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Sandpipers galore during February 2014 in San Diego South Bay birding

Least sandpipers and other sandpipers flooded the South Bay this month.
Least sandpipers and other sandpipers flooded the South Bay this month.
Darlene Luckins

Like other places in San Diego, there is usually a lull in bird migration during the month of February. This is no exception for the South Bay during February, 2014. There are still plenty of birds to view, but nothing new or unusual. Here are a few birding highlights for the area for this month.

There were plenty of sandpipers for all to see in this area, especially during high tide. Most of the sandpipers are western, but there was a small percentage of least sandpipers. Sandpiper counts have been in the thousands throughout the month. Most of these sandpipers are seen in the South Bay National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas.

One surprise this month in the South Bay and the salt works were some common goldeneyes. These ducks have been seen in the area before, but are not common there as their name would suggest. Pintails, shovelers, and a few green-winged teal are still common in this area. The area seems to be lacking in wigeons, though many were seen in the area early in the month. Buffleheads and brant are still plentiful. There are still plenty of eared grebes.

Several sightings of a green-tailed towhee both in the private yard in Imperial Beach and in the Tijuana Slough Natural Estuarine Research Reserve have been reported this month. Hermit thrushes have also been seen there and around the Dairy Mart ponds as well as a northern waterthrush.

Many large sandpipers were also present in all areas near water in the South Bay. These include long-billed curlew, marbled godwit, willets, and whimbrels. Stilts and avocets were also seen as well as several killdeer. Dowitchers also remain in good numbers and some are changing into their breeding plumage. Ring-billed, western and California gulls were seen in usual numbers as well as royal terns. Glaucous-winged and gulls were also in the area.

For March, expect more of the same for February, but expect some of the shorebird numbers to decrease. While many shorebirds are late to leave and some stay during the summer, they will be fewer in number and more difficult to see. Avocets, stilts, and western grebes should continue for the long term.

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