Date   

American-type Oystercatcher, Red-nk Phalarope glut, more on Cook's Petrels

lehman.paul@verizon.net
 

On Sunday, 25 July, the continuing American-type, borderline-hybrid Oystercatcher continued at La Jolla Cove, where present on the rocks at the seawatch site for a full hour starting at dawn, with 2 Blacks, until it finally flew south. Large numbers of Black-vented Shearwaters offshore. Not much else. At the San Diego River channel/mouth there were 4 adult Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, a Reddish Egret, and a slightly early Blue-winged Teal arrival.

For the past number of days, Red-necked Phalaropes seem to be especially numerous and widespread, with small numbers on many inland bodies of water, and even one seen yesterday flying through a residential part of Encinitas. Good numbers are in nearshore waters and at coastal estuaries.

Yesterday's two-boat total of Cook's Petrels in San Diego County waters ended up at approximately 28 birds, a new one-day record for the county (previous record was 24+). The one bird very close in to shore was 13.8 miles west of the tip of Point Loma, besting the only previous close-to-shore individual seen only 16 miles off La Jolla on 13 June 1997. Other total's from our boat offshore yesterday included: 10 Craveri's Murrelets, 5 Sabine's Gulls, 5 Least Terns, 1 Common Tern, 1 Black-footed Albatross, 52 Pink-footed Shearwaters, 45 Sooty Shearwaters, 3 Black-vented Shearwaters, 20 Leach's Storm-Petrels (good count), 8 Ashy Storm-Petrels, 2 Least Storm-Petrels, 200 Black Storm-Petrels.

--Paul Lehman, San Diego


Red-necked Phalaropes yesterday, J Street Marina, Chula Vista

 

Yesterday around 9 a.m. we saw approx 20 Red-necked Phalaropes near J Street Marina in Chula Vista. We got off at Marina Parkway and headed west towards the marina - made u-turn and parked with the reeds and wetlands to our right - saw a Reddish Egret for a while, lots of gulls, terns, swallows, other shorebirds, then all of a sudden a flock of Red-necked Phalaropes emerged from the reeds and sat in the water for maybe a minute before flying off to the south.

I have marginally OK photos if anyone wants to see.

I had to go home to look at photos. I asked Paul Lehman, who helped me verify them as Red-necked Phalaropes.

Kris

On Jul 25, 2021, at 7:46 AM, terry hurst via groups.io <thurstycat61=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:

Hi all,
In case anyone is interested and is in the area there are currently 4 phalaropes at Lake Kumeyaay. Most likely the same birds reported as Red-necked reported by Joe Alsadi yesterday. Was able to get some terrible shots because a distance so a scope is recommended . Can be viewed at both the east and west end of the lake.

Terry Hurst
Santee





phalaropes Lake Kumeyaay 7/25 7:31 am

terry hurst
 

Hi all,
In case anyone is interested and is in the area there are currently 4 phalaropes at Lake Kumeyaay. Most likely the same birds reported as Red-necked reported by Joe Alsadi yesterday. Was able to get some terrible shots because a distance so a scope is recommended . Can be viewed at both the east and west end of the lake.

Terry Hurst
Santee


Solitary Sand and other North County misc.

Gjon Hazard
 

This morning (7/24), I had a Solitary Sandpiper at San Elijo Lagoon. I saw it as it buzzed by; it continued south. Details: 


Additionally, on Monday, I had an early-for-the-coastal-lowlands Mtn Chickadee in my east Encinitas neighborhood (on eBird but not linked below), and later that morning I had a CANYON WREN (!) hang out on my deck for a few hours (It sang too! well, at least half-heartedly). 

https://ebird.org/checklist/S91996271

And here I had been oh, so proud to have found one for my 5-mile radius list earlier this spring (never imagining that I’d get one — ever — on my 0-mile radius list). 


Happy trails. 

-Gjon

--
- - -
Gjon Hazard 
Encinitas 


23+ Cook's Petrels including at NINE-MILE BANK, B-f Albatross; seeing a Poorwill

lehman.paul@verizon.net
 

Today, 24 July, two small boats ventured offshore in San Diego County waters out to the 30-Mile Bank and "The Corner." Highlights included at least 23 Cook's Petrels (most at 30-Mile Bank, and a couple at the Corner), a Black-footed Albatross (30-Mile Bank), a good total of 20+ Leach's Storm-Petrels, 2 Least Storm-Petrels, 8+ Ashies, 10 Craveri's Murrelets, 5 Sabine's Gulls, and 1 Common Tern. On the way back in, our boat had a Cook's Petrel cross the bow (photo'd) at the nw. corner of the NINE-MILE BANK, only 12 nm W of tip of Point Loma! I mention this in case anyone has access to boatage that could get them out to at least that outer edge of the Nine-Mile or the San Diego Trough, and then pray!! There clearly was a northbound movement of Cook's today, including that bird and many of the birds out at the 30-Mile.

In case anyone is interested in possibly SEEING a Common Poorwill, I've had one calling at my apartment complex in Tierrasanta sporadically since April--literally right outside my window--and the current full moon cycle means it is calling a bunch again these last several nights. I can see it (silhouette) flying around just above my roof, calling, but I haven't recently tried to see it on the ground. Anyway, if anyone would like to try to see it, then 8:45-10PM or later has been the best time the past few nights, and the moon will continue to rise later each night. But for now it is close to full, which is what many nightjars like. If interested in more details, contact me privately.

--Paul Lehman, San Diego


corrigenda and miscellanea

lehman.paul@verizon.net
 

First a couple bits of corrigenda: Yesterday's report of "two" American/hybrid Oystercatchers at La Jolla was incorrect, and there was really just the ONE continuing bird that was also seen there two weeks ago, and perhaps much earlier. Plus 1+ continuing Black Oystercatcher. And last weekend I posted about the all-time record California count of 68 Craveri's Murrelets seen offshore on the 17th; but I subsequently heard from Tom Benson that a 17 Aug 2019 pelagic trip (presumably to out beyond San Clemente Island and the Tanner/Cortez Banks area) totaled approx. 90 birds; so our 68 is the second highest, and still a record for San Diego County waters.

Today, 23 July, the salt works had 8 one-year-old Common Terns, 6000+ Western Sandpipers (all adults), 350 Red-necked and 40 Wilson's Phalaropes, finally my first LONG-billed Dowitchers of the season, and the continuing, inside-the-Bay, dredge-loving Brown Booby. Yesterday, there were arrival JUVENILE Long-billed Curlew, Willet (late for first date of juveniles), and multiple juv. Red-necked Phalaropes.

--Paul Lehman, San Diego


S. McCoy parking

George Miller
 

Thank you so much for all of your kind responses gentlemen! 

Warmest regards,
George Miller
Banker’s Hill 


Re: south mccoy trail parking

dan jehl
 

And plenty of on-street parking within a block!


On Jul 22, 2021, at 7:21 PM, Nathan McCall <n8mccall@...> wrote:


Hi George, there is a small lot with 2 parking spaces and 1 handicap space. 

On Thu, Jul 22, 2021 at 6:42 PM George Miller <Gmiller1751@...> wrote:
Hi everyone,
Is there parking for S. McCoy Trail at the corner of 5th St. and Iris Ave.? I’m looking to try for the Cactus Wren sometime in the next few days. Thanks for your help. 
Regards,
George Miller


Re: south mccoy trail parking

Nathan McCall
 

Hi George, there is a small lot with 2 parking spaces and 1 handicap space. 

On Thu, Jul 22, 2021 at 6:42 PM George Miller <Gmiller1751@...> wrote:
Hi everyone,
Is there parking for S. McCoy Trail at the corner of 5th St. and Iris Ave.? I’m looking to try for the Cactus Wren sometime in the next few days. Thanks for your help. 
Regards,
George Miller


south mccoy trail parking

George Miller
 

Hi everyone,
Is there parking for S. McCoy Trail at the corner of 5th St. and Iris Ave.? I’m looking to try for the Cactus Wren sometime in the next few days. Thanks for your help. 
Regards,
George Miller


American type oystercatchers and miscellaneous

lehman.paul@verizon.net
 

Thursday morning at 7:00 a.m. John dumlao is reporting TWO American-type Oystercatchers at the La Jolla seawatch site. Don't know if these are the continuing borderline hybrid-type bird or birds that have been around a while or either of them is new or not and cleaner or not.

I am staring at over 4000 Western sandpipers on a drawn-down pond bordering the salt works but have yet to find anything rare, and best is two continuing Common terns. I had my first of season juvenile Wilson's phalaropes here yesterday, and Sean Buchanan had a record early arriving juvenile Red-necked phalarope a couple days ago at San Elijo. Otherwise it seems that juveniles are running perhaps a wee bit late so far.


Tern photo

Edward Henry
 



At Morrison Pond yesterday about 9:00 a.m. 


tern photo #2

Edward Henry
 

At Morrison Pond yesterday about 9:00a.m.






Common Tern

Edward Henry
 



San Diego pelagic--Cook's P, Laysan A, Nazca B, Buller's S, July 18 2021

Gary Nunn
 

Five of us headed offshore Sunday July 18 2021 venturing almost due west over the San Diego Trough to The Corner, then cutting up the 30 Mile Bank to The 182, and from there obliquely back across the trough and back to SD Bay.  Conditions were okay, but after 10:30 am wind picked up a bit and wind waves, small but mixed swell was a bit lumpy and blown out everywhere.

On the west side of the trough we encountered a BULLER'S SHEARWATER on a beeline north.  Then 30 miles about west of the tip of Point Loma we pulled up on the 30 Mile Bank with good numbers of Pink-footed and Sooty Shearwaters moving.  Here we had a LAYSAN ALBATROSS pass headed north.  We continued west a bit further, finally stopping and putting out a cod liver oil slick 32 miles west of Point Loma pretty close to The Corner.  On the slick we had Black, Ashy and Chapman's form of Leach's Storm-Petrel. Then two COOK'S PETREL passed by close but kept going north. Continued waiting at the slick paid off when a third and much more cooperative Cook's Petrel appeared cutting back and forth close around the boat and eventually settling on the slick for close photos.  We waited about two hours in total and just before leaving Jim Pawlicki called out an adult NAZCA BOOBY going south!  We also had two Brown Booby here including a nice adult male "brewsteri" with a white head.

Only a handful of murrelets were seen flying in the distance during the day and ocean surface messy windblown so it was hard to spot much sitting around out there.  Did not see any jaegers or migratory tern species. We saw few birds on the return leg but about 5 miles west of Point Loma came up on fish "foaming" at the surface, feeding frenzies, and big concentrations of birds overhead including several more Brown Booby.

-- Gary Nunn, Peter Ginsberg, Dan King, Jim Pawlicki, Matt Sadowski
--
Gary Nunn
Pacific Beach


offshore San Diego, Sat, 17 July: 5+ Cook's Petrels, 68 Craveri's Murrelets (all-time record), Long-tailed Jaeger

lehman.paul@verizon.net
 

A small group of birders went offshore on Saturday, 17 July, out to the San Diego Trough, 30-Mile Bank, and "The Corner." Conditions were reasonably nice, with light winds. The highlights of the day were yet 5+ more COOK'S PETRELS in San Diego waters and a record one-day count for the state of 68 CRAVERI'S MURRELETS. The Cook's were in the San Diego Trough (2)--as close as 20.5 mi W of Point Loma--on the 30-Mile Bank (2), and at "The Corner" (1+, repeated sightings). Photos by John Dumlao will be posted in eBird reports to follow. Almost all the Craveri's were in the western quarter of the Trough and on the 30-Mile Bank and were regularly in flocks of four to six birds. Other species of note included two one-year-old jaegers, of which one appears to be a young LONG-TAILED and the other currently uncertain (rare in July; both in Trough), 2 Leach's Storm-Petrels (Trough), 8 Ashy Storm-Petrels, a getting-late Scripps's Murrelet (Trough), a Brown Booby, and a Common Tern. Also well-offshore flocks of Black-bellied Plovers and Short-billed Dowitchers. Another clear highlight of the trip was the spread-out group of FALSE KILLER WHALES in the Trough which were clearly shredding fish, as large numbers of Black Storm-Petrels and Pink-footed Shearwaters were actively feeding over and around them. Some misc. totals for the trip included 32 Red-necked Phalaropes, 5 Cassin's Auklets, 400 Black Storm-Petrels, and 80 Pink-footed & 55 Sooty Shearwaters.

--Paul Lehman, Dave Povey, David Trissel, John Dumlao


San Diego Avian Database UPDATE (through early July 2021) posted

lehman.paul@verizon.net
 

Updated version current to mid-July 2021 posted:

For over the past year I have been working on a "San Diego County Avian Database 2002-2021." With extensive assistance provided by Guy McCaskie and Phil Unitt, and also with much input from many additional San Diego County birders, past and present, a second, updated version of this missive has now been posted on-line. This database includes avian records from late 2002 to mid-July 2021—essentially since the pre-publication cut-off date of records for the San Diego Bird Atlas by Philip Unitt (2004). Also included are many pre-2002 records of interest not found in, or data-corrected from, Unitt (2004) and Unitt (1984; The Birds of San Diego County). The data include those involving rarities, unseasonal records, high counts, early and late dates, specimens of interest, range expansions and contractions, and some other significant population trends. Each species entry is divided into four "sub-regions" of the county--coast, inland, mountains, and desert--and these sub-regions are further subdivided into three seasons--migration, winter, and summer/breeding.

With much-appreciated assistance provided by Jane Mygatt and Natalie Shapiro, the updated database has now been posted in a WORD version on the "Birding Resources" page of the Buena Vista Audubon Society website:

https://bvaudubon.org/birding-resources/

Once on the site's Birding Resources page, scroll down to "Bird Lists, Checklists, and BVAS Monthly Bird Count Lists." You should be able to view and download this WORD version, which should be SEARCHABLE, for ease of finding particular species, observer names, locations, or whatever. Incidentally, the publication found on the Birding Resources page next to the database is Unitt's San Diego Bird Atlas.

I plan to continuously update this database, and to post updated versions approximately every five or six months. If anyone is interested in the most current version at any time between those intervals, feel free to contact me privately.

And please do let me know about any errors or omissions you might find. No correction is too minor!

--Paul Lehman, San Diego



Bank Swallow

lehman.paul@verizon.net
 

Friday morning at 7:00 a.m. there's a Bank Swallow roosting with Rough-wingeds and Cliffs in the dead twigs on the middle pond at Dairy Mart, viewable from the only cut in the vegetation halfway down the east side of that pond. Be careful at this time of year with juvenile Tree Swallows, which often show weaker breast-bands.

Yesterday at La Jolla it was just the standard ca. 800 Black-vented Shearwaters offshore, and presumably the Black Turnstone there on the rocks was the first of the fall arrivals, as I do not believe one was there since the beginning of June.


Oystercatcher Anarchy

thomasf_h
 

Don Robertson has an interesting write up here of the failings of using the jehl scale for an unintended purpose of determining hybrids vs “pure” frazeri ssp:


Another thing to note is that the July bird and the April bird look to be the same individual. Oystercatchers undergo a definitive prebasic molt from April-December. This results in the birds appearing to score higher on the scale over time as the fresh feathers feature more white, whereas black pigment is more resistant to wear and thus appears more extensive in worn feathers.

So what does this all mean? The entire palliatus/frazeri/bachmani complex really deserves a scientific study of their underlying genetics to better understand the separation between the three forms. We really have no idea what is going on with the underlying genetics of the western form of American Oystercatcher, H. p. frazeri, as compared to Black Oystercatcher, bachmani, and the ABA's eastern/southern form; H. p. palliatus. The Jehl paper was published before the invention of genetic sequencing and the work is unfortunately a poor substitute for what is possible today. Using the arbitrary round cutoff of 30 is really just a stop gap that infers that only the whitest individuals can safely be placed in the American Oystercatcher category. As Jehl himself states, he calculated a mean of 38.6 where there was overlap between frazeri and palliatus, and a mean of 28.3 in Baja, where there was an overlap of frazeri and bachmani. We are inferring that this lower mean in Baja is a result of the introduction of ancestral genes into the frazeri population remaining from hybridization in the 1920-1930s with bachmani. We could just as easily place the cutoff on the more scientifically based mean of the bimodal distribution of both parent species from assortative mating, which would result in a cutoff value of 28. In reality, to make a strong argument for identification it would be far easier to just collect and sequence the DNA of subject birds. On the other hand, if we find out from genetic studies that frazeri just represents a hybrid swarm (perhaps unlikely given Jehl's findings of assortative mating?), then identification criteria may not really matter...

Tom Ford-Hutchinson
San Diego, CA


Re: American Oystercatcher(?)

David Trissel
 

OK, I’ve had time to compile the many submissions (actually only one) of Jehl Scale ratings on the bird. Due to confidentiality, I am not going to disclose the author without his permission, but I wanted to close the loop and let everyone know what the experts are saying.

First, the Jehl scale:

---------------
Jehl considered birds with character scores from 0-9 Black, 10-29 hybrids, and 30-38 American.
Upper tail coverts		0	black, as in bachmani
				1	black, a few white mottlings
				2	nearly equally black and white
				3	white, a few black mottlings
				4	white, as in palliatus

Tail				0	black, as in bachmani
				1	mainly black, trace of white at base of vanes
				2	basal quarter of rectrices white
				3	basal third of rectrices white
				4	basal half of rectrices white, as in palliatus

Chest				0	black, with black chest band extending smoothly onto mid-belly, as in bachmani
				1	black chest band extending onto upper third of belly
				2	black chest band extending onto upper quarter of belly
				3	black chest band bordered by ragged edge on upper breast
				4	black chest band sharply delimited from white of upper chest, as in palliatus

Belly				0	blackish, as in bachmani
				1	blackish, with traces of white on a few feathers
				2	blackish, white area around crissum
				3	three quarters black, one quarter white
				4	nearly equally black and white
				5	three quarters white, one quarter black
				6	entirely white, as in palliatus

Under tail coverts		0	entirely black, as in bachmani
				1	mainly black with slight white mottling
				2	nearly equally black and white
				3	mainly white
				4	entirely white, as in palliatus

Thighs				0	entirely black, as in bachmani
				1	black with grayish underdown, not noticable externally
				2	puffs of grayish down noticeable
				3	mainly white
				4	entirely white, as in palliatus
	
Greater secondary coverts 	0	lacking, as in bachmani
   (width of white edging	1	less than 2 mm
   in folded wing)		2	2-5 mm
				3	6-15 mm
				4	more than 15 mm

Extent of white wing stripe	0	lacking, as in bachmani
				1	white markings confined to inner half of secondaries
				2	white markings extend to outer secondaries, but not onto primaries
				3	white present on some or all of inner five primaries
				4	white present on at least one of primaries 6-10

Underwing coverts		0	entirely black, as in bachmani
				1	mainly black, some white mottling
				2	nearly equally black and white
				3	mainly white
				4	white, as in palliatus
	
Axillars			0	black, as in bachmani
				1	mainly black, some white mottling
				2	nearly equally black and white
				3	mainly white
				4	white, as in palliatus	
———————

Now, the ratings received on the July 9 bird:

Upper tail coverts	(1-2)	
				1	black, a few white mottlings
				2	nearly equally black and white

Tail			(1)	
				1	mainly black, trace of white at base of vanes
Chest			(3)	
				3	black chest band bordered by ragged edge on upper breast

Belly			(6)	
				6	entirely white, as in palliatus
Under tail coverts	(3)	
				3	mainly white

Thighs			(4)	
				4	entirely white, as in palliatus
Greater secondary coverts (3)	
   (width of white edging	
   in folded wing)		
				3	6-15 mm
				
Extent of white wing stripe (1)	
				1	white markings confined to inner half of secondaries
				
Underwing coverts	(3)	
				3	mainly white
				
Axillars		(4)	
				4	white, as in palliatus	

	Total = 29 or 30
That puts the bird squarely in … well, I don’t know. 29 is considered a hybrid and 30 is considered an American.

In discussion with others, all admittedly NOT experts, there is possibly some white specks on the outer secondaries and/or primaries. If that is true, then the rating jumps up well into the American range.

At this point, you could stop and draw your own conclusion and not read any further. The pictures are very good and the Jehl Scale can be used to rate this bird along the lines of the above.

— Everything below here are just my notes on what I have learned in doing this exercise —

I’m embarrassed to say that I have looked at far too many American Oystercatcher photos on eBird over the last few days. Of the 29,763 photos in eBird (just American Oystercatcher), the vast majority are of the “normal” Haematopus palliatus. I was most interested in the “fazari” subspecies which is most likely to show up in California. So, narrowing down to just Mexico, there are 544 photos. Narrowing it further to the west Mexico (Nayarit, Sinaloa, Sonora, Baja and Baja Sur), you get down to 84, 69, 127, 73, and 52 photos respectively. So, about 400 photos.

Some observations:

1. H. palliatus fazari definitely have “hybrid” characteristics that look like Black Oystercatcher genes are mixed in there. Now, whether those are “ancient” hybrid genes from back when Black and American were closer or if they are “new” hybrid genes is debatable. For this discussion, we will accept that Haematopus palliatus fazari is American Oystercatcher. Regardless, on H. p. fazari, you’ll see a ragged line between black and white on the chest and the black extends lower towards the belly than in H. palliatus. You’ll also see less white on the upper wings and some slight mottling on the front edge of the underwing coverts. The upper tail coverts are a mix of black and white.

2. Nearly all of the photos of west Mexico appear to be H. p. fazari. The extent of white wing stripe almost never appears on the primaries (so far I found one in Baja and one in Nayarit that had a small white mark on a primary). The white appears to be restricted to the upper wing coverts and, as a rule, is not on the secondaries or primaries. So, if that is true, nearly all fazari would get a Jehl score of 1  for that characteristic. NOTE: I found a Sonora photo of 11 in flight together and not one of those birds shows any white in the primaries.

3. Underwing coverts - H. p. fazari, almost as a rule, appear to have some brown mottling on the leading edge of the underwing coverts. But, even some otherwise “pure” H. palliatus (NY, CT, MA) show a little brown on that leading edge. NOTE: I found a New York photo of 5 in flight together and at least 3 of them have that same characteristic. 

4. I think the biggest marks against the July 9 bird being an American are the upper tail coverts and the tail. If those two characteristics alone were the determining characteristics, I think you’d have to conclude this is a hybrid. Otherwise, I think one would be hard-pressed to say the other characteristics do not fall well into the fazari range.

5. In looking at the photos of the July 9 bird, the May 13 bird, and the April 8 bird, the July 9 bird is the “cleanest” of the three and has the best photos of the main Jehl scale characteristics. The April 8 bird is VERY similar and has just a little more black extending in a V shape further down the chest, but otherwise looks nearly identical to the July 9 bird.

I would love to hear what others think. I welcome a lively and constructive discussion. 

Sincerely,

David Trissel
San Diego, CA


On Jul 9, 2021, at 5:13 PM, David Trissel <dtrisse1@...> wrote:

Here’s a link to a Flickr album with Mandy Etpison’s photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/62366066@N02/shares/37cUc2

David Trissel
San Diego, CA

On Jul 9, 2021, at 4:13 PM, David Trissel <dtrisse1@...> wrote:

OK, since it’s the summer doldrums and we have nothing better to do anyway, let’s have some fun with the Oystercatcher found this morning by John Dumlao and then subsequently photographed by a few folks. The bird was originally found at 6:23-ish at the Point La Jolla Seawatch spot, standing on the rocks below. It flew south past Children’s pool and landed about a 1/3 mile south of there out on a point where it stuck around for 30 minutes until a guy and his dogs went out on the rocky point and chased it off. It flew south but then returned to the flat rocks below the cliffs, again about 1/3 mile south of Children’s.

 I don’t know if Mandy Etpison’s photos attached below will come through (this group email system tends to strip them) but they are spectacular. If they get stripped I’ll see if I can get and post a link to them.

DAB DAB checklist with good flight shots: https://ebird.org/checklist/S91488528

John Dumlao checklist with one flight shot: https://ebird.org/checklist/S91496254 

My checklist with description and distant and far less professional pics here: https://ebird.org/checklist/S91494335

For those of you (like me) that are interested in the Jehl Scale and how American Oystercatchers are rated by the experts, here it is: https://fog.ccsf.edu/~jmorlan/jehl.txt

I’m not an experienced at rating American Oystercatchers, so I’ll only weigh in with my two cents in a follow-up email.

Enjoy!

David Trissel
San Diego, CA


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