Tuesday, 13 September 2011

All Points South

Delighted by the onset of some low clouds I headed down to Clover Point early this morning in the hope that a few passage migrants might be lurking in the area. I was thinking along the lines of horned lark, American pipit, etc.

Sadly, I wasn't in luck and nothing quite so interesting put in an appearance, although several off-passage savannah sparrows were kicking around (pictured).
The presence of these sparrows may well be what attracted a merlin, which made a couple of spirited attempts at catching some breakfast. Equally, the merlin's presence could well have been the reason for no pipits, larks etc...
Shortly after the merlin had moved on to pastures new, I noticed a peregrine approaching from inland. It circled a few times over Ross Bay, before flapping intently to gain height before heading off across the straits. Migration in action!
Offshore, there was a red-necked grebe, plus multiple common murres and pigeon guillemots, plus a few rhinoceros auklets. I couldn't pick out anything among the gulls other than the usual California and  glaucous-winged, along with a few mew and Heermann's gulls.
13 black oystercatcher were feeding on the rocks along with just 6 black turnstone - one of which had unusually bright orange legs, ruddy turnstone seekers beware!
A group of 6 sanderling flew close by, briefly thought about landing, but then carried on.
A few harlequins were seen, as were surf scoters and a drake white-winged scoter, but otherwise it was pretty quiet.
A pair of Steller's sealions passed by, close inshore.

On Sunday I did my first Coastal Waterbird Survey of the season, from Gonzales Point to Harling Point (my new stretch). The day was hot and sunny, and with the tide being late in the afternoon the light was pretty terrible, and coupled with a heat haze, it made counting distant offshore birds pretty much impossible.
Nonetheless, I enjoyed the count even though highlights were few and far between. A couple of greater yellowlegs, a spotted sandpiper, 80 Heermann's gulls and 7 Brandt's cormorants were among the more interesting birds noted.

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