Monday, September 16, 2019

The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!

Oh, wait – its not the Russians, just the marines… more on that later.

Temp in the 50s, overcast, light rain or drizzle until late afternoon, wind SSW 10-20 mph

I am allowed one bone-headed misidentification per trip. I hope yesterday’s was this trip’s quota!

When we initially saw what turned out to be the Marsh Sandpiper, we knew it was a Tringa, but were unsure which one. I got a bunch of photos and, upon arriving back at the house, we studied them.

Although the bird looked slim-and-trim like a Marsh, the bill gave us pause. It seemed heavier than it should be and the lower mandible had a distinct upward bend to it. Nowhere could we find a photo (not just an illustration) of a Marsh Sandpiper with a bill like that! So, fixating on the bill without studying the other plumage characteristics (such as a white supercilium behind the eye – which eliminates greenshank!) We settled on a slim Common Greenshank – maybe a young bird with a not quite developed bill.

We were met the following morning with email from several qualified observers pointing out the error of our ways. At least we got the stint right!

We hope the rest of the good birds we get will be like the Spotted Redshank from May 2018 – no confusing that sucker…

The Thrush feeder is attracting Gray-crowned Rosy-finches, but nothing at the other feeders, yet…

I did not walk Clam Lagoon today. I try to do it every other day so as not to harass the migrants that are resting and refueling. However, that cuts down on the daily list.

The near-constant precipitation cut down on the passerines, but the usual waterfowl were out and about. We had nothing different until we got to the east side of Clam Lagoon, where we found a flock of 25 Sanderlings. We didn’t have any this past spring so they were a year bird.

At Candlestick Bridge, coming out of the fog were three Short-tailed Shearwaters. We later saw them again from the Palisades Overlook.

We have been checking the National Forest and Warbler Willows at least twice daily, but so far have found only Song Sparrows and Pacific Wrens.

In late afternoon, we checked the fish factory outflow at the Sweeper Cove breakwall and, although there was no great gathering of gulls, there was a Crested Auklet (not close) present.

This is the only Auklet that we have seen from shore more than once. We have had them in three Septembers so far.

While scanning for other auklets, etc, Barb had a sea mammal surface and disappear (as usual for us!). We have no idea what it was.

As we were returning to our house to settle in for the night, the roar of military helicopters filled the air.

The Marines are coming out here this week to run some exercises – including storming the beaches!

It will be interesting…

Our trip list is 42 and Year List is 79.

The weather patterns continue to roll through at a breakneck pace, so we expect new birds to come along.

Today’s eBird checklist is at

No photos today.