Folks, you should check out this Arctic Tern, Sabine's Gull, and two species of Jaeger show off Pismo Beach. I went up there today and spent an hour with Brad Schram scoping offshore. This morning there were no groups on the shore, all were offshore. But these and ample Sooty Shearwaters were at times quite close and 2 large flocks of Arctic Terns flew right over our heads. I can't provide a better summary than what Brad sent to the San Luis Obispo bird line, so I paste that below. I also attach a map showing where to park.
Navigate to 35.12947 -120.63196, park, and follow the route on the map to where we scoped this morning.
Upon leaving SLO Co. I drove to the Santa Maria River Estuary to see if any aspect of this show was happening in northern SB County. It was not. There were oodles of Sooty Shearwaters offshore, however.
Thanks to Brad for this summary below.
San Marcos Pass
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From Brad Schram:
Subject: Morning At the Beach (Pismo/Oceano)
The spectacle of ARCTIC TERNS, SABINE'S GULLS, & jaegers continued this morning at Pismo. I didn't try to count this morning, just spent the time enjoying the scene and watching/hoping for a rarity. No luck on the rarity but enjoyed three hours observing the rare event. Jaeger (predominantly Parasitic) tail-chases with Arctics was almost a constant, not uncommonly three or four jaegers chasing one Arctic with a fish. Sabine's Gulls were likewise common, a flock of 15 plus was the largest flock, but a string of them trending up-coast could have included 50 or more birds. Quite the scene.
Afternoon viewing from the sand at the end of Grand Avenue is probably the best vantage point. Be prepared for strong wind, possibly blowing sand. A 'scope is necessary for all but any flocks ashore or working the surf.
Working with my hundreds of photos from yesterday afternoon, combined with Curtis Marantz's count of terns on the beach, causes me to reflect on my tern species flock proportion estimates from yesterday morning. I clearly over-estimated the number of Common Terns in proportion to Arctics yesterday. Virtually every tern seen, and all photographed, yesterday afternoon were Arctics. Curtis 'scoped one flock on the beach, 125 birds, and saw five COMMON TERNS among them. I only saw one for sure this morning. Working with my photos, surely the best chance in my lifetime to photograph multiple ages of Arctics at close range, shows an extensiveness of carpal barring on young birds that is bolder than I realized when watching the scene yesterday morning. I'm sure that some of the birds passing through the 'scope view yesterday, juvs with heavy carpal barring and darkish primaries, were in fact juv Arctics not given a critical evaluation. Live and learn.
Photos will appear on my Flickr site sometime this evening. I hope.