Pacific Golden-Plover

Nick Belardes

While searching for a reported Lesser Yellowlegs at Santa Rosa Creek Mouth, I stumbled upon a Pacific Golden-Plover in adult breeding plumage foraging in a lagoon next to Shamel Park (The yellowlegs was in the opposite lagoon). 

I hadn’t seen this species in this type of plumage ( According to Tom Edell, “If you look at the records in eBird you'll see that there are a scattering of July records in California, but none in SLO. I believe this is only the second July record for the county. Probably all birds found in July are adults molting out of breeding plumage. Juveniles are always a bit later than adults (true for all migrating shorebirds).”

Whenever I stumble in my bird IDs, which I had with this bird initially (though in my defense I DID say it was a bit golden-looking haha), I always learn tons from our ebird moderator who provides added details that I can use in future birding journeys. 

I love this detail from the Wikipedia entry on the species: “The genus name is Latin and means relating to rain, from pluvia, ‘rain’. It was believed that golden plovers flocked when rain was imminent. The species name fulva is Latin and refers to a tawny colour.” 

While it wasn’t rainy, it had been a misty drive heading through Morro Bay from SLO. Maybe added some good luck, since this traveler, possibly from Eurosiberia Arctic tundra or western Alaska, isn’t seen too often around SLO County. 

One additional detail I found interesting noted these plovers fly a 4800 km journey between Alaska and Hawaii in three or four days.

Nicholas Belardes, San Luis Obispo