East Beach and Bird Refuge

Florence Sanchez

I checked the Elegant Tern gathering at the Mission Creek outfall this morning and it continues to be impressive.  I'd say there were at least 400 Terns there this morning.  The flocks were very nervous for no obvious reason and kept taking to the air, circling and calling, before settling back down for a few minutes.  With the Terns were 19 Black Skimmers and a few shorebirds:  16 Willets and 1 Whimbrel.

At the Bird Refuge, I walked out to the third platform.  There is a mud patch out there that had a few shorebirds on it along with the resting Mallards.  They included 2 Black-necked Stilts, 2 Spotted Sandpipers (still spotty), 1 Least Sandpiper, and 1 Dowitcher that I believe was likely a Long-billed.  (I  didn't take my scope out there or I would be more sure; however, the red on the underparts appeared to include the under-tail area and there was faint vertical barring on the sides and flanks.  When it flew, it gave out a single "Keet" call.

The surprise bird I found there was a female Cinnamon Teal.  I first saw it in flight showing its powder-blue epaulets.
When it landed in fairly close, I could quickly rule out Shoveler because of size--much smaller than the nearby Mallards.  The water was very shallow and it was mostly wading instead of swimming, so I could see the orange-y legs, which ruled out Blue-winged Teal.  When the light caught the face just right, I could get a flash of yellowish eyes.  It seems a bit early for this species, so it was nice to see.

Florence Sanchez

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