Nelson's Sparrow at Kendall-Frost Marsh Reserve

Larry Edwards

Birding at high tide this morning with Janis Cadwallader and joined by Max Leibowitz, Char Glacy, and a few others. Best birds were Nelson's Sparrow, spotted by Max after about an hour and half, along with a Northern Waterthrush, and Marsh Wren. Another birder (Judy from L.A.) reported seeing (and had photos) of a sage thrush south of the platform, near Crown Point Park.

After seeing at least 20 Savannah Sparrows hopping about in the scrub and along the fence, Max spotted the Nelson's at 10:45 a.m., and we observed the bird until 11:08 a.m., when a Cooper's Hawk flew in and the sparrow dove deep into the scrub. We saw the bird north of the observation platform, near the storm drain outlet. It perched in the tall dry brush east of the fence, gradually moving higher until it came out in full view. That's when the hawk arrived, but not soon enough to grab Mr. Nelson. Photos on eBird:

Larry Edwards
San Diego, CA

Re: Nelson's Sparrow at Kendall-Frost Marsh Reserve

Larry Edwards

Correction (Janis didn't proofread my post) -- Sage Thrasher (not sage thrush -- had waterthrush on the brain).
And also present and taking photos was eBirder Dab Dab.
Larry Edwards
San Diego, CA

low landbird numbers, Rose-breast, Acorns

Having done a lot of coastal and a bit of desert landbirding in the county over the past month, I think I can say that I have never seen such LOW winter numbers of most landbirds in the 10+ years I've lived here. Almost across the board, and no matter the habitat checked. OK... maybe House Finches are doing fine, but not too much else. There seemed to be good numbers of White-crowneds and somewhat Yellow-rumpeds back in October, but a lot of those birds seem to have evaporated in the interim.  Now, of course there are some small pockets scattered here and there that do support reasonable numbers and variety of species, but the the overall picture seems quite poor this year. Many of the CBCs in the state which have reported in so far this year report an average or even slightly above average total number of species (e.g., the San Diego County CBCs), but low, sometimes exceptionally low, overall numbers.

On Monday the 24th, the male Rose-breasted Grosbeak in Tierrasanta continues in its favorite tree at its favorite early time in the morning (today it arrived at 7:20AM). See previous posts.

Over the past week I've had Acorn Woodpeckers in a few spots west of their 'normal' range, including 3 birds at El Camino Cemetery in Sorrento Valley, and at least 1 bird along La Orilla Dr. at the border of RSF/Encinitas/Solana Beach.

--Paul Lehman,  San Diego

Juvenile Yellow-rumped Warbler in late December?

Greg Gillson


I spotted a strange all-brown warbler at Kit Carson Park in Escondido on December 23. It was very hard to view and photograph against the bright sky, but believe I have enough documentation photos (read: “very bad”) to determine this is a juvenile Yellow-rumped Warbler. Has this plumage been held for 4-6 months or did it hatch in November? Anyone heard of such a thing? Any other alternatives?


Photos under: “warbler (sp.)” in the eBird checklist.


These are my general notes. Additional notes with each photo:

“Size and shape of Yellow-rumped Warbler. Thin pointed bill. More "twitchy" than typical Yellow-rumped so fairly easy to pick out and track against bright foggy sky in mid tree level (20-25 up in eucalyptus). Couldn't get decent views but tried to photograph. Generally, dark gray-brownish above, dusky gray below with faint hint of wide darker streaks on sides, flanks. Dark chin, throat (perhaps stained?), gradually paling to dusky gray breast and mottled gray and white belly and undertail coverts. Heavy feather wear in tail. Most of tail tip worn away but one feather with part of a white outer tail spot. Long tail, short under tail coverts, short wings. Two thin white wing bars.”


Greg Gillson



Greg Gillson
Escondido, California

reddish egret at batiquitos

steve brad <stevanbrad@...>

Yesterday 12/23 and a couple weeks ago there was a R Egret in the west basin of Batiquitos ( between RR tracks and Coast Hwy   id photos on my ebird report
pretty good bird for the oside cbc

merry christmas
steve brad

Owl at Borrego Settling Ponds

Paula Theobald

Was there an owl reported at the Settling Ponds on the Borrego CBC? I was there today and flushed an owl, which if I had to guess was a short eared owl. The look was brief, I was as startled as the owl when it flew out of the mesquite right in front of me. Lately, I have had issues with finding posts but I swear that I recall seeing something about an owl in Borrego.

Paula Theobald

Re: reddish egret at batiquitos

Sally M. Gall

Also one yesterday morning between Robb Field and Dog Beach. Very high tide in the San Diego River Channel, and the reddish egret was perched on a skinny branch beside a great egret perched on an equally skinny branch, barely above the water surface. Striking couple!

Sally M. Gall
La Jolla

La Jolla Cove, Dec 25: short-tailed shearwater; black-footed albatross; loons and California gulls galore

Stan Walens

I could hardly sleep last night after reading weather reports that forecast winds of 30-35 mph with gusts to 50 mph.
My tripod was placed by the chimney with care, in hopes a Swarovski soon would be there.
But Santa says I’ve been too naughty this year...

Got to the Cove at 6:20 a.m., and even in the faint light could see thousands of gulls milling about and heading south.
They were almost all gone by a little before 7:00.
The winds were maybe a little over 20mph.
Paul and Barbara were present from around 7:00-8:30; by the end of that time there was a lull in loon numbers.
I’m sure they will make their own report, but the highlight was about 3000 or so Pacific loons and hundreds of California gulls.
Remarkably almost no tubenoses; eventually we saw 3 or maybe 4 black-vented shearwaters.
A few jaegers.
No alcids, but the sea was so turbulent they could have been flying past in the troughs.
[I doubt it. Alcids have gone extinct. {More on this year’s dearth of seabirds anon.}]

I birded by myself from 8:30-9:15 or so.
I was excited to see a short-tailed shearwater moving rapidly to the south.
I see an eBird report from this morning of another birder, whom I did not see, reporting an all-dark shearwater.
I saw the bird well enough to identify it.

Then at 9:10 I was elated to see a black-footed albatross parsing over the kelp line to the northwest.
I had been hoping for a Laysan, or maybe a short-tailed, shy or Salvin's, but Santa says I’ve been too naughty this year…

Then from 9:30-12:30, loon numbers picked up again. I’d say another 3000-3500 Pacific loons, and a smattering of red-throated and common loons.
And California gulls came streaming past in almost uncountable numbers.
On average, maybe 25/minute [okay, I suppose you could say that the numbers weren’t really uncountable].
That pace kept up from 9:00 until almost 12:00, when it slacked off.
So my estimate somewhere around 5000-6000 California gulls for the morning.

Almost no other gulls were mixed in.
A few dozen ring-billeds, plus one Iceland/Thayer’s and one glaucous-winged.
10-11 parasitic jaegers; 7 pomarine jaegers.
3-4 red phalaropes.
1 black oystercatcher huddled on the rock below my bench.
16 gazillion Holiday revelers in red and green sweaters and elf caps.

Stan Walens, San Diego
Dec. 25, 2018; 1:40 pm

Coronado Pine Warbler, Oceanside CBC scouting

The dull, female PINE WARBLER found in Coronado on the SD CBC on the 15th continued on Christmas Day, in the usual spot in the pines along Margarita Ave very close to 6th.

Scouting in the Oceanside CBC count circle on Weds and Thurs AM produced only a number of low-end rarities. On the 26th, there was a HERMIT WARBLER, Yellow Warbler, Mountain Chickadee, 2 Western Tanagers, and a Bullock's Oriole in southern Carlsbad.  And on the 27th, there was a Yellow Warbler and Black-thr Gray Warbler in southern Oceanside and a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW in northern Carlsbad.

--Paul Lehman,  San Diego

Some Escondido & Ramona region highlights

Gjon Hazard

Thursday 12/27

Snow Goose -- 1 continuing on Sand Lake, Kit Carson park; 3 in with the honkers in San Pasqual Valley sod farms. 

Cackling Goose -- at least 2 with honkers on RMWD reservoir on Rangeland Rd. 

Eurasian Wigeon -- 1 male (and possibly a female) in with the wigeon on Rangeland Rd. 

Details in eBird. 


Singing Hills Golf Course 12/27/18

Kenny Kimbrough

On Thursday 12/27/18 I went golfing (birding) with a couple friends at Singing Hills Golf Course in east county. Although my golf game wasn't up to par, I did see a few birdies. 

Highlights included:
  • Adult male Vermilion Flycatcher at hole 10 of the Oak Glen course 
  • Male and female pair of Hooded Mergansers on the lake at hole 1 of the Oak Glen course
If you want to see the terrible pics I got of these birds on my iPhone, here is the link to my ebird checklist:

Kenny Kimbrough
El Cajon

Foothills birding Dec 27, Lewis' Woodpeckers, Golden Eagle

Susan Smith

Yesterday on a Lewis's Woodpecker Hunt with Mona Baumgartel and John DeBeer,  we were able to refind the Lewis's Woodpecker at the same rock outcropping along the road near 25739 Black Canyon Road, Santa Ysabel (first seen Dec 12), and also one of those recently  found my Bob Theriault and Mark Jorgensen along Grapevine Canyon Rd,  3/4 miles south of the intersection with hwy 22.  Nothing like a pink and green bird as beautiful as Lewis's WP around the holidays.  There was also an immature Golden Eagle perched in a tree along Mesa Grande  Road.  

Susan Smith 
Seiurus Biological  Consulting 
Del Mar, CA 

Susan Smith
Seiurus Biological Consulting
Del Mar, CA

San Dieguito Monthly Bird Count - next Sunday, January 6th, 2019!

Jayne Lesley

This is a reminder about the next San Dieguito monthly bird count. The January 2019 bird count is on the first Sunday  - January 6th. This is the beginning of the tenth year of the San Dieguito surveys!

Everyone is welcome - interested, beginners, visitors, experienced birders.

We will meet at the usual time and place: 7:30 AM at the south end of San Andres. (Turn right/south off of Via De La Valle, on the east side of I5. San Andres dead ends at the San Dieguito Lagoon.) We coordinate with park rangers to provide vests and access for the restricted areas. We'll divide into five groups to count the different areas.

We gather to tally our results at noon at the Del Mar Public Works parking lot/picnic tables off Jimmy Durante Rd.

Hope to see you next Sunday for another great day of birding.

Jayne Lesley (cell phone: 858-663-6568)

prairie falcon camp pendleton 29 dec 2018

Robert Patton

Thought posting location for those with military access may be worthwhile:  This afternoon around 1:30, Wendy Prestera and I observed an adult male prairie falcon initially perched on a utility pole on the small hill just NE of the dog park along the NW edge of the Barnett Circle housing area, then soaring/circling over the canyon just NE of there & SE of the stables area.
Earlier in the day, we had at least 5 barn swallows over the NE dry bed of Windmill Lake.
Happy birding,
Robert Patton
San Diego, CA

Oceanside CBC highlights

The Oceanside CBC took place today, 29 Dec, and the preliminary (early afternoon) results had a total in the low 180s, which is close to average. Some of the highlights included (my apologies for forgetting a few?):

Cackling Goose  1  (flying offshore!)

Brown Booby  2  (offshore boat)

Reddish Egret  1  (Santa Margarita River mouth)

Bald Eagle  1  (imm over Mission; blue patagial tags = banded on northern Channel Islands)

Burrowing Owl  1

Costa's Hummingbird  2

Prairie Falcon  1  (Camp Pendleton)

Pacific-slope Flycatcher  (stakeout s. of Cannon Road, Carlsbad)

Vermilion Flycatcher  2  (Whelan Lake)

Barn Swallow  several

Mountain Chickadee  6+

Nashville  Warbler  2  (both Carlsbad)

Yellow Warbler  3  (1 s. Carlsbad, 2 Oceanside)

Chestnut-sided Warbler  1  (stakeout along north shore of Bataquitos Lagoon, Carlsbad)

Black-thr. Gray Warbler  1   (s. Carlsbad)

Hermit Warbler  1  (stakeout in s. Carlsbad)

Palm Warbler  1  (on lawns w/ YRWAs at extreme east end of Arenal Rd. bordering Omni La Costa Resort, Carlsbad)

Black-and-white Warbler  2  (both Carlsbad; 1 stakeout, 1 new in Holiday Park)

Wilson's Warbler  2  (both Bataquitos area, Carlsbad)

Summer Tanager  3  (incl. 2 females together along Sonja Ct. in s. Oceanside, just east of El Camino Real)

Western Tanager  4-5  (2 Carlsbad, 2-3 Buddy Todd Park)

Bullock's Oriole  1  (s. Carlsbad)

Purple Finch  1  (Vista?)

A BIG thanks to all the participants and ESPECIALLY to the three compilers (not me!)--Jane Mygatt, Kirsten Winter, and Tim Burr.

--Paul Lehman,  San Diego

Mexican Duck x Mallard at Lower Otay Lake, 12/29

James Pawlicki

A male hybrid Mexican Duck x Mallard was present with the Mallard flock at Lower Otay Lake this evening (Saturday, 12/29) just north of the boat launch. The bird was mated with/guarding a typical female (Northern) Mallard, and other than some barely discernible green iridescence on the crown and partial tail curls, the bird appeared like a Mexican Duck.

A back-of-camera photo is in the ebird checklist below: 

Jim Pawlicki
La Mesa, CA

Green Heron, Oceanside CBC

Thomas Myers

After today’s Oceanside CBC compilation, I went over to Buccaneer Park, and found another (2nd) ? Green Heron about 100 feet west of South Coast Highway in Loma Alta creek. Then went to the SLR River mouth not finding anything but seeing the lagoon now draining to the ocean for the first time in a while .... 

Thomas Myers
Oceanside, Ca

Re: Green Heron, Oceanside CBC

Gjon Hazard

Alas! Unless you had two Green Herons during your visit to Buccaneer, that one was THE one (and as of this afternoon, only) Green Heron on the Oceanside CBC. [For those not in attendance today, Paul mentioned that for the recent coastal San Diego CBCs there has been only ONE Green Heron sighted on each.]

FYI -- Our list from covering Buccaneer Park area this morning:


On Dec 29, 2018, at 9:19 PM, Thomas Myers via Groups.Io <bajahobo@...> wrote:

After today’s Oceanside CBC compilation, I went over to Buccaneer Park, and found another (2nd) ? Green Heron about 100 feet west of South Coast Highway in Loma Alta creek. Then went to the SLR River mouth not finding anything but seeing the lagoon now draining to the ocean for the first time in a while .... 

Thomas Myers
Oceanside, Ca

Oceanside CBC: Nature red in tooth and claw; and an unusual peregrine

Stan Walens

On the Oceanside CBC yesterday, our team on the Omni La Costa Resort had some interesting sightings I thought I’d share.

First, although I’ve seen photos of this, I've never been sure they weren’t photoshopped. But I watched as a Cassin’s kingbird pursued a gliding red-tailed hawk, landed and perched on the hawk's back and pecked at the hawk's head for a few seconds before flying off.

Second, we were watching some very active hummingbird feeders, hoping they might attract something unusual, when a black phoebe swept past one and caught a flying Allen’s hummingbird by the neck in its beak and flew off with it. They disappeared behind a bush, so we could not tell if it released the hummingbird at some point, or killed it and dropped it, or consumed it.

Finally, on a dead tree on the north side of Poinsettia Lane just east of the corner of Estrella Del Mar Rd.--so outside our territory--we had a heavily streaked and utterly devoid of any warm colors Peregrine falcon that seemed to be of the pealei race. Very few records of this race in San Diego.

Stan Walens, San Diego
Dec. 30, 2018; 6:30 a.m.

Nancy's Big Year

Nancy Christensen

My year has come to an end, as I am headed to the airport and a new adventure (ANTARCTICA!!). As many of you know, I had a Big San Diego County Year in 2018. I really hadn’t planned on this, but the year began with such an exceptional number of rarities, it seemed possible to beat Barbara’s impressive record. Unfortunately, fall migration fizzled, and birds I had expected to get never appeared.


My year ended with 384 species of ABA countable birds seen in San Diego county (I saw an additional 6 “non-countable” species as well). Most of the rarities I was able to document with photographs, with a couple of exceptions. The only “heard-only” birds (two owl species) were documented with recordings. There were 12 verified species seen in the county that I missed, half of which were on the ocean – Manx Shearwater, Guadalupe Murrelet, Ancient Murrelet, Black-legged Kittiwake, etc. Most of the land birds were on private property and could not be chased. I gave it my best, but came up short. All in all, I am happy with what I did accomplish.


Brennan challenged us to keep yard lists this year as well – mine stands at 85 species seen this year. My Ebird checklist streak is 731 days – at least one checklist a day for 731 consecutive days. So those are my numbers – 384, 85 and 731 – all of which are pretty darn good numbers!


I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all of you who reached out, offered encouragement, advised me,  tipped me off about a bird, and/or stood sea watch with me. Many people took on the task of searching for specific birds for me. Dave Povey took me out on his boat several times to search the high seas, and Gary Nunn has been a constant source of encouragement. It touched my heart to recognize all the support offered to me. We have a wonderful birding community here in San Diego, and I feel privileged to be a part of it. My thanks to all of you.


Happy New Year to everyone, and may 2019 be as good as 2018!


P.S. Great birds are sure to show up on the 31st – get ready everyone!


Nancy Christensen