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South San Diego Bay birding report January 2014

Pintails in the south San Diego Bay near the bike path
Pintails in the south San Diego Bay near the bike path
Darlene Luckins

January in the south San Diego Bay started out and with King Tides. The beginning of the month was great for ducks who took advantage of the extra high tide, but the shorebirds huddled up on berms and other high areas until the waters subsided. The tide was high enough to cover part of the bike path at its peak around New Year’s Day. The wetland restoration of this area has resulted in good duck grazing and shorebird feeding with more plants and insects. Here are some of the birds that have been seen or reported in this area for January, 2014.

In the beginning of the month, there were no special sightings and the area was plentiful with curlews, willets, sandpipers, and marbled godwits. Pintail ducks were very numerous as were eared grebes and a few western grebes. Brant were very numerous and spread out on the bay. Surf scoters were also common near the western side of the bay near Coronado Cays. Most of the terns in the area were royal and Forster’s and most of the gulls were western, ring-billed and California with a few herring gulls mixed in. The usual number of killdeer was seen, mostly hanging around the dry pond, but sometimes seen sleeping on the berms with the willets and marbled godwits.

Later in the month, there were reports of a thick-billed kingbird and Ross’s goose near the J Street Marina on the Chula Vista side of the bay. Black scoters were also spotted several times near the same area where surf scoters usually reside. There were a couple reports of common goldeneyes in the salt works area. Savannah sparrows are also still plentiful as are song sparrows and white-crowned sparrows. At least two Eurasian collard doves were spotted near the bike path and there are, undoubtedly, more than just those two in the area.

Expect the same type of birds to continue through the month of January, with, perhaps the arrival of a few more migrating birds of the same species listed above. Willets and marbled godwits will, no doubt, still be plentiful throughout the month as well as least and western sandpipers. Ducks passing through the area should include pintails, wigeon, shoveler, bufflehead, and others that have good salt toleration.