lerpy eucalyptus follow-up

A bit of a follow-up to my earlier post today about trees, particularly lerpy eucalyptus. Tito Gonzalez reports that the line of eucs along the north fence at Buddy Todd Park in Oceanside are lerpy and hosting a reasonable number of western migrants. I have now found two sites with lerpy eucs off Antigua Blvd. here in Tierrasanta and had more migrants there late today, even being a bit inland (ditto Harry Griffen Park!), than I did close to the coast this morning around Point Loma and Mission Valley. The trees here in Tierrasanta had, for example, 1 female-type Summer Tanager, 6 W. Tanagers, Bullock's Oriole, Bl-hd. Grosbeak, 3 Pacific-slope Flys, Warbling Vireo, 12 Yellow Warblers, 1 B-t Gray, 4 Townsend's, 6 Wilson's, and reasonable numbers of Orange-crowneds and Yellow-rumpeds. Numbers of western migrants = good chance for vagrants as well.

There are likely good sites of lerp-heaven waiting to be found that are closer to the coast in places like Coronado (adjoining the Coronado golf course?), Balboa Park, and La Jolla, as well as in National City and Chula Vista. Not to mention who-knows-where-else in North County.

--Paul Lehman, San Diego

good vs. bad migrant/vagrant trees, hybrid Nuttall's X Downy, returning Am. Redstart, Tennessee glut

The month of September in San Diego County and elsewhere in s. CA has shown us what trees are hot, and what's not, in 2020. Best has been lerp-infested eucalyptus, such as at Harry Griffen Park, Lake O'Neil, and elsewhere. It is strongly recommended that folks search out lerpy eucs as soon as possible, while there is still plenty of fall remaining, and if they support western warblers, then they could just as well attract a vagrant of two--so keep checking them, and let us all know where good, publicly-accessible patches are with good numbers of birds. Also good currently are the pepper-like trees commonly planted along street-sides that have zillions of tiny little whitish flowers currently--and which are very attractive to warblers, vireos, and bees. What is NOT hot currently locally are almost all tipu trees, which have not supported much this season at all; although I hear that at least a few patches of tipus up in Santa Barbara County are currently good, so hopefully ours will become so soon...

Today, the 27th, the adult male American Redstart is back for at least its second winter to the La Playa section of Point Loma, along the beginning of the path at the north end of San Antonio Ave. Also a somewhat brief Tennessee Warbler nearby. It has certainly been an excellent month for Tennessees in the county, and throughout coastal California. My first-of-season "Myrtle" Yellow-rumped Warbler. A couple Swainson's Thrushes. The adult Reddish Egret continues at the San Diego River mouth.

Yesterday, the 26th, still one Bank Swallow at the south end of San Diego Bay (along with 2 lingering Rough-wingeds, 100 Trees, and a good count of 200+ Barn Swallows in the general area), where also my first-of-season MIGRANT "Oregon" Dark-eyed Junco. Still 10 Black-chinned Hummers in the TRV. Barbara C. and I had what we believe was a hybrid Nuttall's X Downy Woodpecker at the main and middle Dairy Mart Ponds. Mostly like a Nuttall's but there was a bit more white in the face, there was a small white patch on the upper back (in addition to the cross-barring), the sides seemed to lack the barring or spotting shown by Nuttall's/Ladder-backed, and it gave a descending whinny call very much like a Downy.

Paul Lehman, San Diego

A Clay-colored and a Brewers Sparrow found at Harry Griffen Park, 09/26/2020 late in the morning.

terry hurst

Hello all,

These two were quite the couple. I say that because I found them both hanging out together. Spotted at the Northeast side of the park just across the dog park where there is bushes along the fence line. The birds flushed into a residents property which has a pool. 

Terry Hurst

Yellow-headed Blackbird near Lake Hodges

Tracy Henchbarger

A male Yellow-headed Blackbird landed on my deck rail at 8 a.m. this morning along with a flock of female RWBs. 3370 Vista de la Cresta. A flock of RWBs arrives in the morning to feed on seed and then flies to the lake. It's the first Yellow-headed Blackbird that I've ever seen in the 15 years I've lived next to the lake. 
Tracy Henchbarger
Lake Hodges, Escondido, CA 92029


Nancy Christensen

Present at Harry Griffen Park - Andrew drive off as it showed up! 10:15 Saturday

Nancy Christensen

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.
Chinese Proverb

Odd Tanager in Coronado 9/25

Nathan French

Apologies if you are one of the many I already sent this to:

While trying to locate the Eastern Kingbird reported a few days ago near Coronado bridge, I found a weird tanager that looked like a Western Tanager but had a reddish/orange wash from its head to its belly. Possibly a hybrid of some sort? I added it to the attached checklist as piranga sp. and welcome any feedback.

Nathan French

Stilt sandpiper, Northern parula, 2 bank swallows, clay colored, four vermilions

I am dictating this message from the field so please excuse all the typos which I cannot possibly correct all of them. Friday morning there was a male northern parula at the corner of DuPont and Gage in residential Point Loma, and nearby was a quickly disappearing migrant, adult male vermilion flycatcher. I then headed to the South Bay and had a juvenile stilt Sandpiper at the salt works, which after a few minutes got up all by itself and flew South. However, just east of the end of 13th there was a long staying concentration of swallows containing about a hundred barns and 20 trees, and with them were at least two bank swallows. Also a yellow-headed blackbird there. At the community gardens on Hollister was a continuing clay colored sparrow. as well as a lingering hooded oriole and still several black chinned hummingbirds. Numbers of migrants seem to have improved a bit with multiple Pacific slope flycatchers and a fair number of Townsend's warblers and a hermit warbler and several warbling vireos and numbers of Western tanagers in the valley. The vermilion flycatcher population at the sunset ball fields has risen yet again and now numbers three female or immature type Birds. And last, at 3:30 p.m. the blackburnian warbler still continues with the flock of other warblers between the entrance Road and amphitheater at Harry Griffen Park.

Paul Lehman, San Diego

Black and white Warbler at Cottonwood Creek

Nancy Christensen

I just heard from Becky Turley that she had a Black-and-white Warbler at Cottonwood Creek Park in Encinitas. It was along the creek not far from the playground. Ebird checklist will be submitted.

Barn Owls

Alison Hiers

Our Barn Owls this year came back after successfully having and fledging three babies and had another two, who have now fledged and are flying about at night with the parents.  In the four years previously we had five babies make it.  We've doubled our numbers in one year.

Alison Hiers


Alison Hiers

Had a MacGillivray's in my yard today in the La Costa area - Monarch Hills.  While following it around a nice flock of Pintails flew over.

Alison Hiers

Clay-colored sparrow, Henry Griffen Park

Jim Roberts GMAIL

This morning (9/25/20) after dipping on the Lucy's warbler and before seeing Alison's Blackburnian, I photographed a sparrow in the euc's just south of the Lucy's spot.
My computer's "large" screen showed it to be a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW missing most of its tail. 

                                           Jim Roberts
                                           University City

Plumbeous Vireo at Solano Highlands Park, Del Mar area, 25 Sep

Susan Smith

Nothing big deal, but I think this PLUMBEOUS VIREO was a recently arrived migrant. Found in the row of the Tipu trees adjacent to the school and basketball area at the south edge of the grassy sports field.  It took off soon after I located it about 07:50 am, at which time students and their parents started arriving, so I left.  The rest of the park that I covered was pretty devoid of any migrants except maybe a Western Wood-pewee and a single Yellow-rumped Warbler.   List at

Susan Smith 
Seiurus Biological  Consulting 
Del Mar, CA 

Susan Smith
Seiurus Biological Consulting
Del Mar, CA

Blackburnian Warbler

Barbara Wise

Hello, I just sent Eitan this message and decided to share it with all.

I believe that Blackburnian also works the Lucy's stakeout ditch, because I saw a bird that fits the description there last night.  I only had a brief glimpse but knew it wasn't a Townsend's, and couldn't figure out what else it might be.  Now I know!  So watch for it there, also.


Blackburnian Warbler @ Harry Griffen (Sep 25, 2020)

Eitan Altman

Justyn sent me a photo taken by Alison Davies of the rear end of a warbler that looked like it had potential for a first fall BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER.

I was able to refind the bird around 9:45am at the top of the amphitheater right near the entrance (just W of the playground). (Minor humble brag: I was on a Zoom meeting for work while I found the bird and even unmuted myself to answer a few questions while I was stalking it)

There is a large active mixed flock of warblers working the trees, making it a challenge to pick out among the Townsend’s, and it’s foraging very actively so doesn’t sit still much. What caught my eye was the paler, more lemon yellow tone to the yellow throat and more faded auricular patch, then when I got a good look I could see the bill was longer and slightly pale based (unlike the stubby all-black bill of TOWA) and the back is grayish and streaked vs plain olive (although the back is a challenge to see!).

Chris Adler was able to get photos so we could confirm, then I flagged down the Lucy's stakeout crowd behind the porta potties and several others were able to see and photo. Still showing as of 10:25am.

Eitan Altman
San Carlos

Buena Vista Audubon pelagic trip Sunday Oct. 4th.

David Povey

Hello all,
This notice is for the upcoming Buena Vista Audubon Pelagic Trip, on Oct. 4, 2020. This is the last regular scheduled pelagic out of San Diego for 2020.
The passenger load load on this trip is exceedingly light with only 11 reservations. We plan to go.
We have not had great quantities of birds this fall, but quality has been quite good.  
Such as ;
A Buller's Shearwater off Sunset Cliffs Sept. 19th.
Least Storm-Petrels, 1 on 8-16, and  6 on 9-19. 
Townsend's Storm-Petrel on 8-31.
Nazca Booby  9-7, 
Red-footed Booby  9-19
Long-tailed Jaeger   1 on 8-2, 1 on 8-16, 1 on 9-19.
Craveri's Murrelets    4 on 8-16  with 4 more murrelet sp. that day
Sabine' Gull  8-16, 8-31, 9-7, 9-19
Arctic Tern  2 on 8-16
We have also seen expected Pink-footed, Sooty, and Black-vented Shearwaters, Black, Ashy and Leach's Storm-Petrels, Brown Booby, Pomarine, and Parasitic Jaegers, Red and Red-necked Phalaropes
We also hope for Flesh-footed Shearwater, Red-billed Tropicbird, Guadalupe Murrelet. These are tough to get San Diego rarities but possible this time of year. So what surprise bird will we see? Land migrants can be possible offshore this time of year.
Also large whale species such as Blue, Fin, and Humpback Whales have been noted moving south offshore.
This trip is aboard the 80 ft. Legacy. The legacy has ample seating for social spacing.  We depart at 7 a.m. sharp.  Please be at the landing 45 mins. prior to sailing.  Return will be by or before 5 p.m.
This trip out of Seaforth Sportfishing Landing in Mission Bay.
Make your reservation at  go to the "Book Now" scroll down to the "3/4 day Birding Trip" Oct. 4th.. box, or call Seaforth Landing at 619 224-3383.
Price is $130 until Wednesday Sept. 30th. when the price goes up to $140 for "Late sign up" .
I hope we will see you onboard,
Dave Povey

Zone-tailed Hawk in La Mesa

Philip Unitt

Dear friends,


Earlier today I got a message from Brenda Neill of La Mesa, asking me to confirm the identification of a Zone-tailed Hawk that came to her backyard fountain along Eastridge Drive on 7 September. She sent me two video clips that showed the bird was an immature (and so different from the adult seen around Iron Mountain, Mussey Grade, and San Vicente Reservoir in the past month). She said she had seen the bird on one additional day a few days earlier.


The frequency of this species in San Diego County seems to be creeping up gradually, no?


Good birding,


Philip Unitt

San Diego

Re: Gray Headed Orange-Crowned Warbler at Harry Griffen Park

Philip Unitt

Dear friends,


The issue with the subspecies of the Orange-crowned Warbler is that it’s critical to know the bird’s sex, which can’t be ascertained externally. If the bird has a gray head, an only weakly olive back, and the pale yellow on the underparts reduced to irregular blotches, that’s very likely to be a female of the eastern/boreal forest subspecies, nominate celata. If the bird has a gray head and the underparts a uniformly pale dull yellow (except for the diffuse streaks), that could be a male of nominate celata or a female of orestera. A bird with no gray on the head and moderately bright yellow underparts could be a male of orestera or a female of lutescens. A very bright yellow Orange-crowned Warbler is probably a male of lutescens. And if the bird is all yellow but the yellow has an extra dose of melanin pigment, darkening the upperparts, flanks, and streaks on the breast and undertail coverts to varying degrees it is probably sordida. Though we have prepared nearly 300 specimens of the Orange-crowned Warbler over the past 35+ years, we still do every one we receive at the San Diego Natural History Museum, and are still learning from them. So any dead Orange-crowned Warblers you may find are welcome here.


Among our blessings in San Diego is that we see here the full range of variation in this remarkable bird, with all 4 subspecies. And its numbers are still on a long-term upward trend, especially now that it has become such an urban adapter. The pair that lives around my house in Hillcrest in central San Diego raised three broods this year! In the past 3 or 4 years we have received several specimens of sordida, so that subspecies that originally bred just on the Channel Islands and Point Loma seems to be an important contributor to the urban adaptation. Paralleling another Channel Islands subspecies, the sedentary Allen’s Hummingbird!


Very nice pictures of the Lucy’s Warbler, and interesting to see that it is in the process of molting its wing feathers. So (like the White-eyed Vireo at El Camino Cemetery) it’s likely to stick around until that molt is done.


Good birding,


Philip Unitt

San Diego


From: [] On Behalf Of Tuck Russell
Sent: Thursday, September 24, 2020 4:43 PM
Subject: [SanDiegoRegionBirding] Gray Headed Orange-Crowned Warbler at Harry Griffen Park


My best guess is that it's an orestera.  Reviewers may shoot that down, and that's ok, but it's at least a "Gray-Headed."  Seen at the drainage culvert with the Lucy's Warbler and Willow Flycatcher.  My one photo and rationale for orestera can be found in this checklist, along with photos of the LUWA (slam dunk ID) and WIFL (pretty solid, if not a slam dunk):

Tuck Russell




Gray Headed Orange-Crowned Warbler at Harry Griffen Park

Tuck Russell

My best guess is that it's an orestera.  Reviewers may shoot that down, and that's ok, but it's at least a "Gray-Headed."  Seen at the drainage culvert with the Lucy's Warbler and Willow Flycatcher.  My one photo and rationale for orestera can be found in this checklist, along with photos of the LUWA (slam dunk ID) and WIFL (pretty solid, if not a slam dunk):

Tuck Russell

Jacumba migrants, Pine Valley hummers, corrigendum

First off, a minor corrigendum: the Black Oystercatcher on 19 Sep was at the Mission Bay jetties, not Zuniga Jetty. Also, a Cliff Swallow yesterday, the 23rd, at Dairy Mart was close to the usual typical "last date" for the season.

Today, the 24th, a morning visit to Jacumba and Pine Valley produced still 4 Black-chinned and 1 young male Costa's Hummingbirds at Pine Valley, where departure dates for those species at that elevation are perhaps somewhat unclear (far fewer hummers overall at the feeders there since my previous visit over a week earlier, and there is now somewhat of a "bee problem" as well). Given that Jacumba is now rarely birded, following Eric K.'s departure a while back, here are today's misc. numbers of some potential interest, mostly involving migrants:

White-winged Dove: 3 (now resident)

Black-chinned Hummingbird: 11 (good total for so late in month)

Costa's Hummingbird: 2 (fall status?)

Rufous/Allen's Hummingbird: 3 (getting late for there?)

W. Wood-Pewee: 1

Willow Flycatcher: 2

Cassin's Kingbird: 2 (one or two pairs nest there occasionally, at very east edge of range, but fall departure dates uncertain)

Warbling Vireo: 3

Barn Swallow: 1

Cedar Waxwing: 1

Phainopepla: 1

Lawrence's Goldfinch: 1

Orange-crowned Warbler: 1

Yellow Warbler: 6

Wilson's Warbler: 9

Brewer's Sparrow: 15

White-crowned Sparrow: 6 (all Gambel's)

Savannah Sparrow: 5 (low)

Lincoln's Sparrow: 4

Hooded Oriole: 1 (getting late)

Bullock's Oriole: 2 (perhaps borderline late)

Western Tanager: 9

Black-headed Grosbeak: 1

Lazuli Bunting: 3

--Paul Lehman, San Diego

Eastern Kingbird Coronado


I was forwarded photos of an Eastern Kingbird photographed Tuesday morning from the bike path on Coronado island between the defunct toll booth and golf course here: 

The bird was found by Sandrine Biziaux-Scherson from Irvine, CA.

Tom Ford-Hutchinson 
San Diego, CA

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