Most of my birding efforts lately have been on the coast looking for shorebirds, gulls, and terns. I will start going back over the hill to Ukiah next month searching for inland migrants.
Ten Mile Beach was wall to wall shorebirds this last Thursday. It was quite a change from the week before. Western and Least Sandpipers were all over the beach and larger flocks of Sanderlings are starting to appear. Sandpiper adults migrate earlier then immatures and we saw large flocks of adults earlier. They seem more organized than the young sandpipers that seem to wander all over. There was also what looked to be a juvenile Ruddy Turnstone. Compare this photo with the one here.
While I did not see any new birds on Ten Mile I did find a banded Snowy Plover that was new to me. I keep a collection of Snowy Plover leg pictures and compare them season to season.
Every time I report these banded birds they tell me, “Richard that’s a returning bird that been seen out there for the last three years are you blind?” Well, actually they don’t say that but I think it’s implied. Then there’s the color blindness. When I report red they say it’s orange. Is it light blue or aqua? Green or lime? They have even given me a band color chart but it doesn’t alway help. I believe this color combination is YOY:Y (left leg first). Y for yellow and O for orange. Time will tell.
Friday I did my SOS (Save Our Shorebirds) Survey. After getting off my bike I did a quick scan of Virgin Creek and found no shorebirds. The reason why was a Peregrine Falcon sitting on the beach next to the creek. After it left, a White-tailed Kite flew over the south bluffs. I thought it would be a poor day for a shorebird survey. I was wrong. Virgin Creek Beach, like Ten Mile Beach, was covered with peeps. It was hard to get an accurate count. Most of the shorebirds were again Western and Least Sandpipers. One of my favorite shorebirds are the Phalaropes. They are are so fragile looking but many make their living out on the ocean. After the falcon left 4 Red-necked Phalaropes made their way to the creek.
When we survey we also report dead birds we find on the beach. I found this Pink-footed Shearwater.
Pink-footed Shearwaters are a species in decline. There is a program that is tracking this species using tiny transmitters…”they can only be found on 3 Chilean islands during breeding season (Isla mocha, Robinson Crusoe, and Santa Clara). Their biggest known threats include predation by non-native mammals, entanglement/hooking by fishing gear, habitat destruction, and the illegal harvesting of eggs. Because of this, the Pink-footed Shearwater is a listed as a species of concern in several countries.” Judging from the tracking records it would appear that only 2 of the 6 bird’s transmitters are still working.
Once again no new birds at Virgin Creek.
For my birding at the Little River Airport I actually had a couple of rare birds appear. Unfortunately they are only rare at the airport. They are the Acorn Woodpecker and the Western Scrub-Jay. It’s been a long time since I’ve written about the airport so you can link back to it here.
Totals are still 227 birds seen but over 1851 truck miles saved.