Seawatch observations including many Forster's Terns, 2/1-6/16

Paul Saraceni

Yesterday (2/5) and this morning Hugh Cotter and I conducted a couple of seawatches -- from the south end of the Great Highway yesterday and from the Ft. Funston platform this morning.  Very good visibility both mornings, smooth seas with big swells, and light E winds

The offshore Forster's Terns that have been present since late December have really picked up in numbers, something I have not observed before in many years of SF sea watching.  Yesterday (2/5) morning we observed 150-170 Forster's Terns in multiple flocks of ~20-50 feeding offshore and continuing N; we only observed 1 flock circling back so don't think this high number is the result of double-counting. Also noted yesterday were 1 flock of 5 White-winged Scoters flying S and 4 m. Black Scoters on the water.

This morning from the Ft. Funston Platform we observed 1 flock of 26 Forster's Terns flying S and circling about -- undoubtedly the same flock observed further N by Ken Schneider. Later we observed a flock of 63 slowly making its way N, with plenty of plunge-diving -- perhaps it included the original 26.  This morning's terns ranged from the surf line to 2/3 of the way out to the horizon.

Also observed this morning:
White-winged Scoter 5 (4 on the water, 1 flying N)
Heermann's Gull 15 
RHINOCEROS AUKLET 1 (flying N; me, only)
Marbled Murrelet 4 (2 pairs spotted by Hugh flying N and landing on the water).

On Monday, 2/1 during some brief seawatching with Dominik Mosur at the south end in strong NW winds we observed a pair of ANCIENT MURRELETS flying N.

Also of local interest: I observed an AMERICAN KESTREL fly E past the Mile Rock overlook yesterday afternoon and Hugh observed 1 at Ft. Funston this morning.

Paul Saraceni
San Francisco

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