Birder's Guide

OCT 2014

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

Issue link: http://bg.aba.org/i/392347

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33 October 2014 | Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy back at La Jolla Cove. I successfully relo- cated all of these. My biggest miss was also in this month: Yellow-billed Cuckoo never even called despite multiple attempts. I came home from several of these fruitless excursions with hitch-hiking dog ticks in- stead. Not an acceptable trade. I carried out additional searches for shorebirds in August, using a small skiff to motor around Lake Henshaw. Only Pectoral Sandpiper was added to my shore- bird list. But one such trip yielded an un- seasonal and very rare Black Swift, which I had missed during its usual migration period in May. Luckily for me, it was one of the birds "resurrected from the dead" for a spot on my year list. A pelagic trip with friends added Red-billed Tropicbird and Craveri's Murrelet. I continued to strain for shorebirds in early September until a friend helped me add Baird's and Semipalmated sandpip- ers. Blue-footed Boobies invaded San Diego and much of California. Yellow- green Vireo, Red-throated Pipit, Ovenbird, and Magnolia Warbler showed up. And I added my very own Scaly-breasted Munias (Nutmeg Mannikins at the time) once this exotic species was formally accepted to the California and ABA checklists. September ended with my total at 364 birds, only fve behind last year's record-setting 369. October was flled with as many pe- lagic trips as I could take. I saw Flesh- footed Shearwater, South Polar Skua, and southern California's amazing frst-ever Great Shearwater! Crested Caracara, Great Crested Flycatcher, and Golden-crowned Kinglet, all found by Gary Nunn, turned up at various places in the county. The appearance of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker actually preceded my fnally seeing the more-common-for-this-area Red-naped Sapsucker. A Northern Parula fnally turned up. Terry Hunefeld spotted a frst- county-record Le Conte's Sparrow on a Friday, but I was stuck at work, and the bird was gone the next day. Sometimes work just gets in the way of birding. There were many Eastern warblers I still needed, but the fall had not been very good for them. So, on November 3, I was thrilled to fnally see a Blackpoll Warbler. Even more thrilling was when Paul and I found a Mourning Warbler in our front yard upon our return home! This ca- sual stray was a new county bird for me. As November progressed, I added other birds: Gray Catbird, Black Scoter, Orchard Oriole, Black-legged Kittiwake, and Blue- headed Vireo. December brought further additions to a screeching halt. It turned quite cool compared to a typically mild San Diego winter. The darkness and the chill did not inspire me to get going before work. December brought great birds, but I had already seen them in the year. These in- cluded another Masked/Nazca Booby and several additional Blue-footed Boobies. Two Inca Doves were found on the Anza- Borrego Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Another wintering Bay-breasted Warbler, a Black-throated Green Warbler, a Painted Redstart, and multiple Orchard Orioles were discovered. I did miss a couple birds I needed in this month. A dead Laysan Albatross was found far inland in the Anza-Borrego Desert. An elusive Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was seen by others in two different places (and re-found after the frst of the new year in 2014). So, despite much effort, my only new bird during all of December— the fnal bird of the year—was a stakeout Glaucous Gull, seen December 21 during the Oceanside CBC. And, no, I did not go owling on the eve of December 31! I ended 2013 with 388 species. For only three of these species I was the sole observ- er; two species were heard-only. Not only is this a new record for San Diego County, but it is also the highest total ever for a single county anywhere in the ABA Area. It was a result of my own efforts, coupled with the county's high species and rarity-rich list and a core of active birders generously sharing information in a timely manner. During my big year, my dog, Roxie, remained loyal in spite of her master's many absences, and the local oil-change shop was happy to see me (and my car) on a regular basis. I sincerely thank Paul Lehman and many others for their help and support! Yellow-green Vireo is a very rare vagrant to California. Photo © Gary Nunn Great Crested Flycatcher is a casual eastern vagrant. This one was on Point Loma. Photo © Gary Nunn

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