Common Murre and shorebirds

Kevin Zimmer

I visited a number of shorebird spots this morning (Tuesday, 9/4), beginning with Pismo Creek mouth (Nothing of note, but the tern flock was much reduced in size, with a total of only about 60 birds [13 Royals, 1 Caspian and the rest Elegants], down markedly from the 230+ on my last visit.) and Arroyo Grande Creek mouth. I did not relocate the Ruff that has been hanging out there, but I would offer the caveat that the only real cluster of shorebirds was hanging out along the western edge of the lagoon, in a spot that was mostly obscured by the sand bank. Given the fence barrier, which is posted against all entry, it was impossible to check that group of birds. I did find 2 Wilson's Phalaropes, 1 Lesser Yellowlegs, 1 Baird's Sandpiper, several Westerns, and 5+ Red-necked Phalaropes. There was also an Osprey flying around vocalizing.

The Turri Road ponds had several Red-necked Phalaropes and 1 Greater Yellowlegs. Whale Rock Reservoir had a single Pectoral Sandpiper feeding on the flats at the north end (viewed from the Cottontail Creek Road), along with a Virginia Rail that was feeding in the open.

I also checked San Simeon Creek Mouth, and found 2 juvenile Pectoral Sandpipers, which were hanging with a couple of Killdeer. This foursome was very skittish, possibly due to the presence of an Accipiter that shot past just as I was pulling off the road into the turnout. There were also 30+ Red-necked Phalaropes in the creek east of Hwy. 1.

The most unusual thing that I saw for the morning was a basic-plumaged Common Murre that I photographed inside the south bay. I first saw the bird from the observation deck at Sweet Springs. It was swimming west from there, hugging the shoreline pretty tightly. I caught up with it several blocks to the west, at the coastal access point on Doris (Dora?) Street in Baywood, near a couple of private piers. This was about 1100h, and the bird was still swimming west along the shoreline when I left it.

Kevin Zimmer

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