Common Terns still among the hoards at Robb Field, San Diego River mudflats, Sunday August 14

Susan Smith

Today (8/14) at mid-day lowish tide,   I returned to Robb Field to scope the sand and mud flats again for small terns from the edge of the bike path.  I had done the same yesterday, but was frustrated by the distance of the small terns, my rustiness with their id separation  in breeding and transitional plumages,  and by the gusty winds buffeting my scope.  Today was calmer, the small terns closer, and my brain more confident on what to look for.  I counted at least 9 Commons, 19 Forsters, 5 Caspians, 15 Royals, and a hoard of  550 or more Elegant Terns.  List from today is as follows:   

Sue Smith, Del Mar

San Diego River--tidal mudflats, San Diego, California, US
Aug 14, 2016 11:50 AM - 12:55 PM
Protocol: Stationary
Comments: Warm, sunny, wind 4-5 mph from west, picking up as I left.
28 species (+3 other taxa)

Double-crested Cormorant 75
Brown Pelican 4
Great Blue Heron 2
Great Egret 5
Snowy Egret 7
Little Blue Heron 3
Black-bellied Plover 25
Semipalmated Plover 60
Whimbrel (Hudsonian) 2
Long-billed Curlew 4
Marbled Godwit 35
Ruddy Turnstone 1
Least Sandpiper 21
Western Sandpiper 50
peep sp. 10
Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher 15 at least 5 were juvenile Short-billed Dowitcher, water level higher than yesterday.
Willet (Western) 30
Heermann's Gull 4
Western Gull 190
California Gull 13
Caspian Tern 5
Common Tern 9 Studied the Fosters/Common Tern-like birds carefully, and they were closer today. About 3-4 of them were straightforward birds in non-breeding plumage with 
prominent carpal bars, with the black cap meeting across the nape and dark wing tips. Adults in breeding and transitioning plumage had thinner, more deep-red bills and feet 
than the neighboring Forsters (more orangy-red bills and stouter), were slightly smaller and less stocky with shorter legs, had the dark wedge on primaries in flight. And on a few of the
Commons you could even see the dark outer retrices when they lifted the tail feathers to preen.
Forster's Tern 19
Royal Tern 15
Elegant Tern 550
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 10
Amazona sp. 2
American Crow 2
Barn Swallow 1
Cliff Swallow 1
House Sparrow 2

View this checklist online at

Susan Smith
Seiurus Biological  Consulting
Del Mar, CA 

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