South-end sea watch, 4/24/16

Paul Saraceni
 

Sunday morning (7:45-10 AM) I did a sea watch from the closed parking lot at the south end of the Great Highway, with good species diversity and some interesting observations.  There were brisk NW winds and good visibility, though the wind really picked up and blowing sand caused me to end the watch after a couple of hours.  It was low tide and a wide beach with less foot traffic than usual allowed a nice gathering of shorebirds to feed on the beach below.  

Observations of local interest:

Brant 33 (flocks of 13 & 20 flying N)
Surf Scoter 110+ (most flying N)
Black Scoter 1 m. (on the ocean w/Surf Scoters)
LONG-TAILED DUCK 2 (1 basic m. flying N w/Surf Scoters and landing on the ocean @ 7:45; another flying N w/Surf Scoters @ 8:05)
Com. Loon 4 (3 alt./1 basic; on the ocean)
Pacific Loon 13 (flying N)
Red-thr. Loon 6
Brandt's Cormorant 6
Pelagic Cormorant 3
Double-cr. Cormorant 1
Turkey Vulture 1 (flying NE over the Great Highway)
Black-bellied Plover 1 (basic plumage; on the beach)
Whimbrel 80+
Marbled Godwit 40+
W. Sandpiper 5 (alt. plumage; w/Dunlin on the beach)
Least Sandpiper 11 (flying N over the surf)
RED KNOT 11 (tight flock flying N over the surf; mid-size shorebirds with relatively uniform grayish upperparts -- no white as on dowitchers -- and showing various amounts of rufous on underparts)
Dunlin 2 (alt. plumage; w/W. Sandpipers on the beach)
Sanderling 400+ (large flock flying beyond the surf and a small group on the beach)
Caspian Tern 6
Com. Murre 13
Pigeon Guillemot 1
ANCIENT MURRELET 1 (flying S)
Bank Swallow 24 (flying out from and above the fenced-off colony S of the parking lot)

Also:
Gray Whale 2 (1 swimming N just beyond the surf and a blow observed offshore)

A brief stop at Harding Park produced 12 Eared Grebes scattered on L. Merced off of the boathouse, and a single Bank Swallow.

Paul Saraceni
San Francisco

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