Cliff House Sea-watching, 5/25 & 26: Elegant Terns et al.

Paul Saraceni

Yesterday (5/25, 7:30-9:00 AM) and today (5/26, 7:15-9:45 AM) I did some sea-watching from the Cliff House terrace, with Hugh Cotter yesterday, and joined for part of the time today by birders Max and Joachim.

There were brisk NW winds yesterday followed by very strong NW winds today, with good visibility both days, until rain squalls came in and ended my watch this morning.  Most of the activity was focused on moving "feeding frenzies" off of Ocean Beach S of the rocks, and comprised primarily of hundreds of Brandt's Cormorants, Brown Pelicans, California and Western Gulls, and Common Murres.

Most interesting for this time of year were the high numbers of ELEGANT TERNS -- 70+ yesterday (most scoped in a single offshore flock) and 180+ this morning, with 150+ counted at one time in the offshore flock, and others coming in closer to shore in the feeding frenzy.  A single FORSTER'S TERN briefly visited the feeding frenzy this morning and there were 10+ Caspian Terns each morning.

Early HEERMANN'S GULLS are present with 8-10 yesterday and 3 this morning, all second-summer birds.  Lingering gulls included an imm. HERRING GULL on the beach this morning and 2-3 imm. Glaucous-winged Gulls each morning.

Alcids were represented both mornings by 1000+ Common Murres in many flocks on the water and in-flight and 2-3 Pigeon Guillemots.

Getting late was a fly-by basic-plumaged Red-throated Loon this morning (spotted by Joachim).

A small California Sea Lion was on the rocks each morning amidst the cormorants and pelicans.

Paul Saraceni

San Francisco

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