Sutro Rhino & Odd Duck

Brian Fitch

I spent several early hours at the Baths this morning, mostly watching an amazing feeding group of over a thousand Brandt's Cormorants mixed with lesser numbers of murres, gulls, and pelicans, all expected species.  There were also a lot of Surf Scoters flying in various directions, and I kept checking for the less expected species. 

Sometime after 7AM, an unusual looking duck flew from the Gate southbound, paralleling a Pigeon Guillemot.  The duck was only a little bigger than the PIGU, and had a small bill compared to the many scoters I'd been seeing.  I thought Harlequin, but the bird had no white on the belly or anywhere else except several spots on the face, and the body plumage was uneven, showing some rich brownish tones near the rear flanks.  Most interesting was a pale brown panel in the scapular/tertial area of each wing, something I've never seen on any scoter, but also not on any wintering female Harley.  I don't know molt sequence in Harlequins, but wonder if it could have been a first year male, yet I could find nothing on-line which in any way matched my sighting.  So another un-ID'd bird to go along with the bizarre gull from last month.

Later on, an alternate plumaged Rhinoceros Auklet flew in, loosely associating with the PIGU's, and eventually settled on the water.  A Wandering Tattler was on the rocks by the Cliff House, and two Western Kingbirds flew over the 48th Ave parking area at Land's End.  A Humpback Whale was feeding to the NW, and what was likely a distant Gray spouted multiple times to the SW.

Yesterday, I had brief looks at the Ash-throated Flycatcher that Dom found at Corona Heights, just before I was bitten by an off-leash dog.  Luckily, it only bit into the fabric of my pant leg.

Brian Fitch

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