Ocean Beach -- 7/20-21/19: Sooty Shearwaters, Parasitic Jaegers, Common Tern

Paul Saraceni

This morning (7/21), Hugh Cotter and I did some sea-watching from the south end of the Great Highway. Winds were brisk from the SW, skies were overcast, and visibility was excellent out to the horizon.

There was a several-minute pulse of 200+ SOOTY SHEARWATERS moving N, quite far out, the first of this species that either of us has observed from the SF shore in 2019 (other than a deceased one found on the beach).

2 PARASITIC JAEGERS flew N together.

Some other typical summer observations from the sea-watch:

Surf Scoter 20+

Common Loon 8 (basic plumage)

Pacific Loon 3 (2 basic, 1 alt.)

Black Oystercatcher 1(fly-by S)

Long-billed Curlew 1 (fly-by S)

Whimbrel 30+

Least Sandpiper 1 (fly-by S)

Common Murre 12

Pigeon Guillemot 18

(and a Bewick's Wren singing from across the Great Highway)

We then headed to the seawall @ Pacheco.  There was an excellent, noisy gathering of 6-700 ELEGANT TERNS on the wet sand at the surf line.  The flock was very flighty and repeatedly flushed (due to gull intrusions and, of course, off-leash dogs, and beachwalkers who needed phone close-ups of the terns), but came back and re-shuffled multiple times, until the repeat charges of an off-leash dog sent them flying further S.  We repeatedly scoped the flock from the seawall for the better part of 45 minutes, and located a 1st-summer COMMON TERN that was roosting with the flock before it disappeared.

Shorebirds in the vicinity included 10+ Whimbrel, 20+ Marbled Godwits, 40+ Sanderlings (in colorful summer plumage), and 5 Western Sandpipers.

Yesterday (7/20) evening I walked the beach between Judah-Noriega and observed 40+ Whimbrel, 90+ Sanderlings (including 1 in pale basic plumage), 3 Western Sandpipers, and 10 Snowy Plovers (several of which were banded).

Paul Saraceni

San Francisco

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