Sunday, March 1, 2020

Birding on Leap Day

I decided to make a day of it - a whirlwind tour of (some) of the more interesting local birds, to give a boost to my year list.

At the end of the day my year total stood at 157. Over half way to the goal of 300.

I visited the Poggi Creek greenbelt in Chula Vista (for the first time ever) in the morning to try for decent lighting on what I hoped would be cooperative rarities (the Thick-billed Kingbird and the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher). The morning was sunny, mild and essentially perfect. On initially searching the wide grassy area between housing developments, I found Cedar Waxwings in the tall sycamores. The Cassin's Kingbirds were noisy and active. After wandering a bit further south, I heard an odd, kingbird-like call and quickly spotted the hefty Thick-billed Kingbird in a smaller tree. It proceeded to move about in a small area, seeming to favor the tall sycamores for hunting from. A few moderately decent images were captured. A nice lifer!

Finally lower down in the sycamore.

That is one thick bill!

The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was more elusive and I would not have seen it at all if not for a fellow birder who spotted it after I had wandered quite a bit further south, then turned back north (thank you Roger U.). It was perched far up in a tall tree, easy to recognize, but then flew off before I could get an image of it.

Then I headed to the baseball fields just S. of Nestor to see Vermilion Flycatchers if possible. I only found a female, but she was very calm and allowed easy photos as she hunted.

Her orange hues are visible here.

Next came Imperial Beach and in the end I only visited the pier to see possible loons that had been described as being there by a fellow birder. I did find two Red-throated Loons and a Common Loon that appeared to be molting into breeding plumage. Pelagic Cormorants were loafing on the S. side of the pier, near the restaurant at the end.

The speckly back and dark bill suggest Common Loon.

Pelagic Cormorant. The bill is very thin indeed.

Then I visited the San Diego River mouth at Robb Field and saw a Little Blue Heron, a Reddish Egret and Blue-winged Teals, all year birds.

I check a couple other locations, but found not other birds for the 2020 list (including NO Black Skimmers on the NE corner of Vacation Isle).

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