Pomarine Jaeger, San Diego


New Year's Pelagic
1 Jan 2006
by Henry Detwiler

Helga & Al, and Suzanne & I spent a weekend at the Salton Sea and in San Diego to finish out 2005 and start off the New Year!  
species -- bird list is at the bottom of the page
Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized photos.   

We started out our New Year's Eve tour of the Imperial Valley at the Nature Trail at Wister Waterfowl Management Area, We missed the Rufous-backed Robin, but had fine looks at Dusky-capped Flycatcher and American Redstart.

Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Wister WMA

"Blue" Goose, Wister WMA


At the mouth of Salt Creek, lots of interesting waterfowl were bobbing about. One female Barrow's among many Common Goldeneyes, a single female Red-breasted & two Common Mergansers, and one Surf with two White-winged Scoters were all present. Al picked out the Tri-Colored Heron feeding on the far shore; it later did a close fly-by along the beach in front of us.  Next was Wister Waterfowl Management Area; thousands of Snow Geese were a beautiful sight.
At Red Hill Marina we ate lunch under the watchful eye of a Peregrine Falcon. Shorebirds in the area included Marbled Godwit, Dunlin, Willet, Avocet, Long-billed Dowitcher, and Black-necked Stilt.

Willet, Red Hill Marina

Marbled Godwit, Red Hill Marina

The trip over to San Diego was a wet windy, and cold one--we worried that Sunday's pelagic boat ride might be cancelled due to high seas. Once there, we had a fine fish dinner at Anthony's in San Diego and brought in the New Year early with some bubbly back in our rooms on the Naval Training base.

Short-tailed Shearwater, San Diego


The following morning was beautiful! It was literally the calm before the coming day's storm. We climbed on board our fishing boat at 8:30, a charter with a capacity for 150 persons. A couple of Common Loons saw us depart the harbor, and it wasn't long after before we saw our most common pelagic bird of the trip--the Black-vented Shearwater.  Later on we added a second shearwater for the trip--a Short-tailed!

Black-vented Shearwater, San Diego

Trailing a stream of popcorn which attracted a small horde of gulls, we soon had a Pomarine Jaeger investigate us, to be followed by many more during the course of the morning. A few of these striking birds came right up to the stern.

Bonaparte's Gull, San Diego


Gulls, San Diego

Most of the gull herd consisted of California, Ring-billed, and Heerman's, so a dainty Bonaparte's Gull was a captivating sight. On the way back to the dock we had a Rhinoceros Auklet slip by, and we found a Red-necked Phalarope even closer to shore.

Heerman's Gull, San Diego

Short-tailed Shearwater, San Diego

Brandt's Cormorants, San Diego

Lunch was a sandwich overlooking the San Diego Flood Control Channel, where we picked up some additional ducks (mostly Buffleheads), and a few shorebirds (including Snowy Plover).

Pomarine Jaeger, San Diego

From San Diego, we traveled over the Laguna Mts. hastily, picking up a few birds along the road: Wild Turkey, Western Scrub jay, and Dark-eyed Junco. The reason we didn't want to spend too much time in the mountains was our desire to reach the Tamarisk Campground in Anza Borrego prior to dusk.

Long-eared Owl, Anza Borrego State Park

Long-eared Owl - Sony DSC

The moment we got out of our vehicles Helga turned around and spied a whole tree full of Long-eared Owls just behind the ranger's office. 15 owls! We walked all around the Athel Tamarisk and got excellent looks at most of them, a few staring us down. We found a few more of these owls along the edge of the campground, as well as a single fluffy Barn Owl.

The last new bird for the day was a California Thrasher fleeing down a wash. It was a fine start for the new year!


San Diego County, 1 Jan 2006
1 Pacific Loon
2 Common Loon
3 Pied-billed Grebe
4 Eared Grebe
5 Black-vented Shearwater
6 Pink-footed Shearwater
7 Short-tailed Shearwater
8 Brown Pelican
9 Brandt's Cormorant
10 Double-crested Cormorant
11 Great Blue Heron
12 Great Egret
13 Snowy Egret
14 Black-crowned Night Heron
15 Lesser Scaup
16 Surf Scoter
17 Bufflehead
18 Red-breasted Merganser
19 Ruddy Duck
20 Osprey
21 Swainson's Hawk
22 Red-tailed Hawk
23 Wild Turkey
24 American Coot
25 Black-bellied Plover
26 Snowy Plover
27 Willet
28 Wandering Tattler
29 Whimbrel
30 Long-billed Curlew
31 Marbled Godwit
32 Ruddy Turnstone
33 Black Turnstone
34 Surfbird
35 Sanderling
36 Red-necked Phalarope
37 Pomarine Jaeger
38 Parasitic Jaeger
39 Turkey Vulture
40 Bonaparte's Gull
41 Heerman's Gull
42 Ring-billed Gull
43 California Gull
44 Western Gull
45 Royal Tern
46 Forster's Tern
47 Rhinoceros Auklet
48 Mourning Dove
49 Barn Owl
50 Long-eared Owl
51 Anna's Hummingbird
52 Belted Kingfisher
53 Acorn Woodpecker
54 Black Phoebe
55 Western Scrub Jay
56 American Crow
57 Common Raven
58 Oak Titmouse
59 Verdin
60 Rock Wren
61 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
62 California Thrasher
63 European Starling
64 Black-throated Gray Warbler
65 Yellow-rumped Warbler
66 Chipping Sparrow
67 Dark-eyed Junco
68 House Finch

Photos Henry Detwiler