Oso Flaco Sunday

Rubba Johanna

Walked Oso Flaco from the entrance to the beach today. There were 9 Scaups on the east lake, but too far away to nail down whether Lesser or Greater. The main lake was teeming with Northern Shovelers, cruising around nibbling the surface of the water. On my return from the beach, they were forming large groups that swam tightly together round and round in a circle, usually clockwise. There were four circles going as I headed for the walk out. On the walk out, lots of Tree Swallows were out hunting; they were gone when I came back.

Ruddy Ducks were also present in numbers, and there was a small number of winter-plumed Eared Grebes. I also saw a small number of female and one male Bufflehead.

On the beach, I walked all the way to the creek mouth, where I saw several small waders. Some were peeps, but a larger one caught my eye. I was not able to identify it definitively, though I got long, good looks at it. It was sized between a peep and a Black-bellied Plover. The bill was much longer than that of the plovers or turnstones--more like the larger sandpipers. The bird was plump, with shortish legs (i.e. it lacked the spindly legs of a Yellowlegs). Its color was light brown. It had a darkish cap, a light white or buffy eyebrow stripe, dark eye, and dark bill that was both long and rather on the thick side. Its back was uniform, plain light brown, without any streaks or mottling. The throat and breast had a bib of very fine, dense streaking of a paler brown than the body. The streaks ended in a perfectly straight line across the chest above the belly. The belly and underparts were white. The wings had some mottling, but not as boldly demarcated as with, say, the Golden Plovers. The shoulder had a patch of very light brown, almost square, with white below it. The tail and/or tertiaries appeared to have some black. I saw it briefly in flight. The wings were brown with a thin, white stripe close to the outer edge of the wing. It didn't vocalize. The time of day was very late afternoon. By the time I left the beach, the sun was down.

Help with ID would be much appreciated. I checked my books, but nothing looked quite right.

Bird on--
Johanna Rubba
Grover Beach


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