Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Off the Pier

I've seen more seabirds this summer than any previously thanks to my weekly pier vigils. Shearwaters and alcids are cool, but only a certain level of satisfaction can be garnered from the glimpses had from the pier of black specks bouncing around at the horizon. Earlier in the summer, I swore off pelagics to save funds for textbooks and dates to the sewage ponds. However, when a free ticket came my way (thanks, Rhoda and Joey!) I couldn't exactly turn it down.

The trip was Los Angeles Audubon's thirteen hour cruise on the speedy Condor Express out of Santa Barbara, an annual odyssey into the far reaches of the ocean, the domain of the pterodroma and tropicbird. Two great perils challenge any birder daring enough to sign up for one of these trips: seasickness and sleep. The Condor Express is a large, stable boat, yet somehow several among our ranks lost the contents of their stomachs over the rail. I remained untouched, and even managed to stave off the latter evil, not counting a quick five-minute nap during a lull in the afternoon.

What's out there? Instead of writing "Well, we were cruising along, with shearwaters everywhere, and then we saw an albatross, which we stopped and watched for five minutes....", I'll just give you the photos, perhaps with a brief accompanying comment.

I'll start with the alcids. This grayish little chunk of blubber has been likened to a football. It's a Rhinocerous Auklet, which is actually more of a puffin than anything else. We saw perhaps a half-dozen.

Next on the alcid roster: Cassin's Auklet. Another chunk of gray blubber, but smaller than a Rhino Auklet, with a smaller bill. More of a tennis ball (albeit a very dusty one) than a football. If you squint, you can see the small white mark above the eye.

When I see Cassin's Auklets at the pier (which I do, nearly every week), I see them in flight. From that distance, they look like gnats buzzing along the surface in a fast, direct line the way a gnat would never fly. At a closer distance, from a boat, they look more like horse flies. Note on the bottom left photo the impressive amount of white on the underparts, more extensive and well-defined than is shown in some field guides.

Gem of the swells, the desire of every non-Californian birder...Xantus's Murrelet. I'm rather fond of them myself. We saw about ten, all of the expected scrippsi race.

Before delving any farther into the wonders of the pelagic world, let us pause to appreciate the scum circling around the back of the boat: Heermann's Gulls. Sure, they're common on the beach, but it's cool to see them fifty miles offshore, particularly when they're crisply-fringed juveniles fresh out of Mexico. Oh, and the bird in the background is a Pink-footed Shearwater.

The ball analogies are not exclusive to alcids. I have heard birders compare Red-necked Phalaropes to ping-pong balls. I can't remember the last time I saw a fleet of two hundred ping-pong balls spiraling on the water or twisting and fluttering among the swells.

Bigger, and redder, and farther out: Red Phalarope, still partially in alternate plumage, accompanied by a couple Red-necks.

The leaders almost blew out the PA system on this bird, and for a good reason: it's a Manx Shearwater. In North America, they normally range off the East Coast; however, a few turn up in the wrong ocean every year.

A few Northern Fulmars summer off of southern California every year. This bird was so pathetically ragged and bleached that I felt sorry for it and included it here.

This Laysan Albatross has the distinction of being the first, and only, Laysan Albatross I've seen thus far in my life. They are regular off California, but apparently not in the summer. Its dwarfed bodyguard is another fulmar, a much more pristine one at that.

Laysan Albatross (front), Pacific Ocean (back), sky (top).

Arctic Terns, I can't get excited about them. They're terns that spent their entire lives flying around over the ocean, which would be cool if they were shearwaters or petrels or something, but they're not.

Birders have a thing for jaegers. They compare them to pirates, or brutes, or triathletes, or bodybuilders. But, I must admit, Long-tailed Jaegers deserve admiration. They spend their time beating on those loser Arctic Terns and look classy while doing so.

Skuas are jaegers so intense that they aren't even called jaegers. Born in Antarctica and raised on penguin meat, these beasts roam the oceans the rest of the year, wintering (during our summer) off California and making a livlihood by terrorizing hapless Heermann's Gulls, shearwaters, or whatever else gets in their way.

Yes, skuas demand respect. Even the zombie-birders emerged from their hibernation in the cabin to gape at the two skuas that circled and wheeled in our wake.

Once you start seeing Leach's Storm-Petrels on a California pelagic, it's probably safe to go asleep. They inhabit deep, deep water, the kind of water that is devoid of avian life except for Leach's Storm-Petrels. Seriously, once you get out a hundred miles, an hour may pass with twenty Leach's Storm-Petrels and nothing else. However, birders are attracted to these barren seas with hopes of finding some great rarity. Quality, not quantity. We managed to rustle up a couple Red-billed Tropicbirds to compensate for the scarcity of birds.

And now I shall return to my trusty pier, accumulating dollars in my bank account for other wonders. Wonders like The Essentials of Organic Chemistry.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Watch It VII--Who Cares About Pigeons?

I won't attempt to conceal this sorry fact about myself: I discriminate against pigeons. When I'm feeling good towards them, I ignore them; at other times, I'll take a few steps out of my way to try to kick one off the pier. In fact, the only pigeons that I really care about are the ones that are black with white wing patches and red webbed feet. In other words, Pigeon Guillemots.

And these lusted-after Pigeon Guillemots were one primary motivations for rolling out of bed at four forty-five in the morning for these weekly seawatches. Note the past tense. I saw one on Friday. It only took twenty hours and two-thirds of the summer to glimpse its velvety black, obese body being carried southward on whirring wings. As the bird disappeared in the shame of defeat, I pledged that, despite this monumental victory, I will continue to seawatch for the rest of the summer.

Newport Pier, Orange, US-CA
Jul 22, 2011 5:45 AM - 7:55 AM
Protocol: Stationary
Comments: Weather: cloudy, light breeze (~6mph, WSW), cool (~65?F). An excellent morning of seawatching before work, and not just because I finally pegged Pigeon Guillemot. Many birds, few fish, and no especially bizarre people. The old dude with the cane I see every week finally gave me enough details about his mystery bird that I was able to identify it as a Caspian Tern. Today, he was picking up old fishing line left strewn around and throwing it away. Cool guy.
28 species (+1 other taxa)

Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica) 2 I was very surprised to have two--and they were definitely different, because I saw them at the same time. First, I got on a loon coming north. It came by fairly close and I was able to ID it as a PALO. Just as it was crossing the end of the pier, I caught a glimpse of a bird on the water at the bottom of my field of view. Another PALO, quite close to the pier! Both were in basic-type plumage, and I could see that the sitting bird at least quite bleached and ragged.
Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) 2
Clark's Grebe (Aechmophorus clarkii) 1 One (accompanied by one of the WEGR) swimming around the pier. The first I've observed here this summer.
Pink-footed Shearwater (Puffinus creatopus) 2
Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus) 250
Black Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma melania) 35
Brandt's Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) 24 These definitely seem to be on the increase. Post-breeders coming from somewhere, I'd presume...
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) 425 More than I'm used to, and most were fly-bys. There seemed to be at least one line flying low over the water at any given time, and there were a couple BIG flocks (80+) birds. Strangely, I saw very few birds feeding or anything. Correlation to the fishermen's lack of luck? Hmmmm.
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) 1 A tame juvenile perched on the pier railing, looking for handouts. They learn quick.
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) 1
Willet (Tringa semipalmata) 24 Shorebirds are picking up!
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) 2
peep sp. (Calidris sp.) 9 A small flock heading south...probably WESA.
Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) 50 I was initially baffled when I kept seeing tiny birds waay out that looked sorta looked like whitish storm-petrels that kept landing on the water. Finally, it clicked--phalaropes! The first I've seen this summer at the pier.
Heermann's Gull (Larus heermanni) 200
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis) 500
California Gull (Larus californicus) 1 One very raggedy near-adult (3rd cycle?) on the beach south of the pier.
Least Tern (Sternula antillarum) 115 Very strange--all the other terns have been decreasing since I started coming, except LETE, which seems to grow every time I come. Or maybe I just didn't notice them when there were thousands of ELTE milling around drowning everything out...
Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia) 8
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus) 1
Elegant Tern (Thalasseus elegans) 32 Very, very few.
Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) 9
Pigeon Guillemot (Cepphus columba) 1 County bird! By far the most exciting thing I've had of all my summer seawatching, even though I've been expecting it sooner or later. I first got on while it around 0630, while it was well north of the pier, and my impression was of an all-dark, medium-sized alcid. I was getting my hopes up, but with the cloud cover and all anything could appear black. I couldn't see the white wing patches, though it was sorta coming in towards shore, so I couldn't really tell. I wasn't at the end of the pier because of all the fishermen, so I lost it when it went behind. I dashed up to the south side and immediately got on it going past the end of the pier, and all doubt was erased--perfect alternate-plumage PIGU, flying directly by at moderate distance. Gorgeous! It LANDED a short distance south of the pier--way too far for photos, etc., but still nice and close for scope views, and way closer than the usual SOSH/BLSP zone. After sitting for a minute, it dove twice (very abrupt jump with open wings--funky) and then took off again and continued south. Total observation time was maybe six or seven minutes. In flight, looks like a small, black murre--same "flying uphill" aspect, perhaps less pronounced, and the head looks really small and the body very fat. The white wing patches were less obvious than I had been expecting--they were easily missed when the bird wasn't roughly even with the pier. Dark underwings noted when the bird stood up to flap while on the water. Saaawweeeet!
Cassin's Auklet (Ptychoramphus aleuticus) 9
Rhinoceros Auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata) 1 One fly-by going "north," fairly distant. The first I've observed here this summer--finally!
Rock Pigeon (Columba livia) 60
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 1
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 10
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) 6

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Watch It VI

Some describe it as a twitter, others a whinny, and yet others liken it to a chorus of tiny handbells. I just can't hear it. To me, it just sounds like a Bushtit.

Whatever it may or may not sound like, I was surprised to hear it wafting down the pier on my latest seawatching extravaganza. A new pier bird. It seems that not even the most microscopic patch of shrubbery is free of Bushtits.

Newport Pier, Orange, US-CA
Jul 14, 2011 5:42 AM - 7:54 AM
Protocol: Stationary
Comments: Weather: cloudy, light breeze (~10 mph, SSW), very light drizzle, cool (67°F). Low tide. Thick clouds resulted in very dim viewing conditions for the first half-hour or so. Tern numbers are still much reduced from before, but decent numbers of everything else. There was at least one fair-sized (forty-plus strong) pod of dolphins well offshore, being followed by a large flock of gulls, terns, pelicans, and shearwaters. Human-wise, things were pretty normal on the pier today...I surrended the very end of the pier to fishermen and instead watched from about 7/8 of the way to the end.
28 species (+2 other taxa)

Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) 2 A pair sitting on the water well to the south.
Pink-footed Shearwater (Puffinus creatopus) 1
Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus) 350 Lots, but they were all pretty distant.
Black-vented Shearwater (Puffinus opisthomelas) 1 One, my first of the summer.
Black Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma melania) 28
Brandt's Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) 5
cormorant sp. (Phalacrocorax sp.) 2
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) 85
Willet (Tringa semipalmata) 7
Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa) 6 A small fly-by flock just as I was walking down the pier.
Sanderling (Calidris alba) 1 My first of the summer, an alternate-plumage bird on the beach south of the pier.
peep sp. (Calidris sp.) 3 A small group flying north low over the water, not too distant, but blehhh
Heermann's Gull (Larus heermanni) 240 A considerable influx. They were everywhere, too--lots of birds flying offshore, lots on the beach. There were also considerable numbers of juveniles. I guess breeding is pretty much done with down in Mexico...
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis) 675
California Gull (Larus californicus) 4 It has been weird...I've seen very few CAGU this summer on the beach, but today there were four. Oversummering? Or failed breeders coming from somewhere?
Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens) 1 An extremely straggly, bleached bird fighting over stale french bread with other gulls at the base of the pier. It was almost pure white, with just a small amount of creamy brown on the underparts. The bill was almost completely black. Interestingly, a very similar bird--probably the same one--was photographed by Eliot Harold maybe a week ago near the SAR mouth. I saw photos on OrangeCountyBirding and it looks very similar. Sweet, the first summering one I've seen in the county.
Least Tern (Sternula antillarum) 70
Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia) 22
Forster's Tern (Sterna forsteri) 2 Very few!
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus) 1
Elegant Tern (Thalasseus elegans) 210
Common Murre (Uria aalge) 1 One alternate-plumaged bird going "north." Altogether not too surprising given my previous sightings this summer (and there have been regular reports from La Jolla (Lehman et al). Still weird.
Cassin's Auklet (Ptychoramphus aleuticus) 16 Several small parties of 1-5 going "north", all distant. My highest count yet this summer, I believe.
Rock Pigeon (Columba livia) 60
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 4
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 5
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus) 2 New bird for the pier for me! A couple calling from the tiny patch of ornamental shrubbery near the bathrooms at the base of the pier.
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 1
House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) 1
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) 3

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Birding--Bad for the Health

Head entombed in pillows, torso mummified in blankets, I was well along in the process of falling asleep. A dark haze swirled over my mind. The peaceful hum of traffic and the muffled booms of Disneyland fireworks ten miles distant lulled me into unconsciousness, an unorthodox yet soothing lullaby.


A Barn Owl shrieked a challenge to muggy night. Barn Owl vocalizations are diametrically opposed to lullabies—sharp, startling, scary. I jerked awake and glanced at my watch. Ten o’clock. I made a mental note to register this impolite owl into eBird first thing in the morning.

eBird has been the ruin of my life. I can’t even sleep without being dogged with the obsessive urge to enter checklist after checklist.

Fortunately, a simple solution exists, and, rising on an elbow from my pillows, I reached for it on the nightstand: a pair of earplugs. Nothing but the most raucous mockingbird shouting from my windowsill could disturb my slumber now. I sighed and sank back into my nest of pillows and blankets. Sleep followed quickly.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Watch It V

Early mornings at the pier are gorgeous. Mist blurs the horizon, the sky blends from pearly pink to slate blue overhead, and the dark ocean gently laps at the beach, frothing like whipped cream. The air is fresh, salty, and only the very slightest whiff of fish offal spoils it, depending on where you stand. But then, the sun rises, casting away all the illusions. The idyllic palm trees and buildings stand on what was formerly a gigantic coastal estuary teeming with life, long since raped and buried underneath roads, houses, malls, and other marks of humanity. The ocean is polluted, the air smoggy, and even the pier itself is heavily littered with cigarette butts, In-N-Out Burger wrappers, and partially decomposed sunflower seed shells. Ah well. Sometimes, reality hurts.

Enough complaining. This week's installment of seawatching was successful--not that it ever isn't--and I thoroughly enjoyed two hours of shearwaters, alcids, and terns before work. One of the most interesting aspects of my weekly visits is the variation in numbers of the common species. I've had mornings when I see at least a thousand more Elegant Terns. Why were there so few (relatively speaking) this week? I just don't know.

Newport Pier, Orange, US-CA
Jul 7, 2011 5:42 AM - 7:54 AM
Protocol: Stationary
Comments: Weather: mostly clear (rather misty, especially early on), light breeze (SW), warm (~68°F). Seawatching before work. A few decent things. Once again, it was nice to actually have the sun out on the birds, though lighting wasn't great on birds that were south of the pier.
23 species

Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica) 1 This one was unexpected--a bird in basic-type plumage hauling "north" low over the water. Presumably a locally summering bird.
Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus) 330
Brandt's Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) 5
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) 3
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) 55
Willet (Tringa semipalmata) 3
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) 1
Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa) 2
Heermann's Gull (Larus heermanni) 110 Numbers continue to grow--including many birds heading north offshore. Also, had my first juveniles of the year.
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis) 400
Least Tern (Sternula antillarum) 22
Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia) 16
Forster's Tern (Sterna forsteri) 8
Elegant Tern (Thalasseus elegans) 150 Much fewer than recently. Several weeks ago, I had at least a thousand more in a similar span of time at the same time of day. Hmm, why? Weather conditions? Or maybe stage in breeding cycle of the birds at Bolsa Chica? Shift in food distribution?
Xantus's Murrelet (Synthliboramphus hypoleucus) 2 A prize--a pair, not that far out, going "north." Obviously small and cleanly black and white.
Cassin's Auklet (Ptychoramphus aleuticus) 5 A small flock buzzing north well offshore.
Rock Pigeon (Columba livia) 32
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) 4 A little fly-by group at the base of the pier as I was heading out...first time I've had them here. Whoopie!
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 15
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 2
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 1
House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) 1
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) 2

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Two, Four, Six, Eight, Try To Estimate!

“How many [Ruby-crowned] kinglets?” I asked, notebook in hand, pen poised to record the official tally.

“At least a couple dozen…maybe twenty-six?” responded my girlfriend Alison, behind the wheel as we pulled away from Floral Lane, an alleged hotspot that I have thus far found to be positively underwhelming.

“Don’t be ludicrous,” I scolded. “Fourteen.”

Alison sighed.

“Come on. They were ALL over the place. I saw six in one bush.”

Seeing the validity of both statements, I conceded. “All right, fine. Sixteen.”

Both of us are notoriously strong-willed people. The debate nearly dissolved into blows, but eventually we peacefully agreed that we had, indeed, seen sixteen Ruby-crowned Kinglets on our walk. He who wields the pen holds power.

It’s a time-honored tradition of mine. Go birding, have a good time. Then, afterwards, estimate the numbers of birds you saw and punch them into eBird. How representational are these estimates—often little more than wild guesses—of the true number of birds present? Some situations offer challenges, like…

A cloud of swallows swirling back and forth over a field…thousands upon thousands of gulls blanketing the center dike at Muskegon Wastewater…a chorus of unseen Wrentits trilling from hill cloaked in chaparral…ubiquitous Black Phoebes, one standing guard over seemingly every trash can in the neighborhood.

An even greater challenge faces birders entering eBird checklists from memory: whether a species was even present or not. Did I hear any Song Sparrows on my evening walk around the evening? Well, surely I did—must have just forgotten to write it down on my little pad. How many? Well, I don’t know, but usually there seem to be about three singing males in the neighborhood, so I’ll put down three. Yeah, three, I remember them all now…

I’ve become halfway diligent at jotting down all the species I detect in a pocket notebook that I feel naked without. Recording numbers, however, is another story. Leaving the estimations to the end frequently leads to intense personal frustration (when I bird with myself) or verbal, possibly even physical conflict (when I bird with others). In addition to these negative side effects of estimation, is it even accurate? I decided to test the accuracy of my estimation on a recent evening ramble to Irvine Regional Park by carefully tallying numbers of several species.

The first thing I noticed: Black Phoebes are freaking everywhere. I encountered eleven in less than a mile of walking. On my previous four visits of comparable effort, I estimated three, six, one, and seven birds, respectively. Second observation: Cliff Swallows are impossible to count, screw this. Third observation: Mourning Doves, that’s better. Fly in a straight line, one or two at a time. I can handle this. I ended up with seventeen, compared with forty, twenty-six, eighteen, and thirty-eight on previous visits. Fourth observation: Shoot, eight-thirty, almost my bedtime...better head back.

These two case studies might suggest that my estimation powers are reasonably accurate. I do not, however, flatter myself to be convinced so easily. Oftentimes, when confronted with a species scrawled on my notepad, I am completely at loss as to how many I saw. This challenge is two-pronged. It involves memory, sometimes over hours, and it also requires synthesizing a total of birds seen over a period of time—when out birding, you see those Yellow-rumped Warblers a few at a time, not all at once. Out of curiosity, I googled “estimation games” and blew an enjoyable few minutes testing myself ( Embarrassingly, I nearly scored negatively on the “Count 50-99” level, but then I promptly dominated the “Count 20-50” level. It seems that I am forever doomed to be ignorant of my level of estimation skill…

One of my goals for the remainder of the summer is to be more aggressive in keeping track of bird numbers while birding and not saving the estimation for the end. It requires considerable time and diligence, both of which I seem to perpetually lack. But who knows? Perhaps, by the end of the summer, my eBird account will be spewing forth data that are slightly more accurate.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Watch It IV--The Fish Apocalypse

"I know that human beings and fish can coexist peacefully."

This prophecy, uttered by none other than George W. Bush, has not yet come to pass. Our coastlines are still ravaged with war. This morning, a barrage of mackerel staged an assault on Newport Pier, where bold defenders of the human legacy valiantly attempted to quell the surge with their rods, lines, and hooks. I just watched.

A dozen frantic tails vibrated against the ruthless cement, sending delightful showers skyward. The sun sparkled some, but others remained dark, opaque, and red. Gradually, the symphony of tails experienced a diminuendo, and the accompanying showers weakened to a faint mist, then to nothing. Nothing, except eyes--eyes, wide, unblinking, desperate. Some were stained with red; all were hopeless. As the scores of bodies were dumped into five-gallon buckets, some jerked back to brief life, only to be again overtaken by death. One mackerel, lying on its side on a bed of his fallen comrades, gaped his mouth open and shut, surely reciting "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" in his silent fish language.

During lulls in the battle, when the danger of being snagged with a hook or splashed with blood or entrails abated, I turned my eyes to the mist-shrouded horizon, waiting for the emergence of some pelagic oddity. Pigeon Guillemots, apparently reveling in their continued delinquency, escaped my grasp once again. But, time is on my side. I have the remainder of the summer to resolve this feud.

Newport Pier, Orange, US-CA
Jul 1, 2011 5:38 AM - 8:30 AM
Protocol: Stationary
Comments: Weather: clear, very light breeze (SSW), warm (64-73°F) Morning seawatch--kinda weird to be out seawatching on a sunny morning, which made viewing condition a lot different than usual (e.g., SOSH looked brown, not nondescript black, and the silver blazes on their underwings were really obvious.) Way more fishermen than usual, too, which made viewing a bit difficult. They were also catching a lot more fish than they usually do.
19 species (+2 other taxa)

Pink-footed Shearwater (Puffinus creatopus) 1 Only one, a distant bird fairly early on. Despite the distance, the morning sun made the pink bill readily visible, and the pale belly and underwings were surprisingly obvious.
Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus) 215 Fewer than normal, though still numerous. There was one bird sitting on the water fairly close to shore most of the morning, and oddly it had symmetrical white patches on the wings, presumably from bleaching/molt. Got me excited for PIGU for the first couple seconds, but it obviously wasn't...
shearwater sp. (Calonectris/Puffinus sp.) 1 Sooo...I think this was probably the bird of the morning, and I don't know what it was. I got on a pretty distant shearwater hauling south(ish). What was surprising about this bird was that it was very clean dark and light--very pale below, with white underwings. Obviously, it wasn't a Sooty. Most likely, it was just a Pink-foot gleaming in the sunlight--the definite Pink-foot I had earlier surprised me with its contrast, but it seemed more strong on this bird, and I didn't see the pink bill, either. Huuuh.
Black Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma melania) 18
Brandt's Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) 4
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) 88
Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus) 2 Two flying "north," low over the water--they rounded the end of the pier.
Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa) 1 On the beach.
shorebird sp. (Charadriiformes sp.) 8 A distant flock of small shorebirds going south...I think they miiight have been Semi Plovers, but yeah...beyond my ability.
Heermann's Gull (Larus heermanni) 75
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis) 280
Least Tern (Sternula antillarum) 85
Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia) 10
Forster's Tern (Sterna forsteri) 15
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus) 2
Elegant Tern (Thalasseus elegans) 500
Rock Pigeon (Columba livia) 55
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 4
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 5
House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) 5
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) 10