#404 Bullock’s Oriole

I don’t know what it is about me and orioles: I just can’t keep track of which ones I have and haven’t seen. Last May I thought I’d seen Hooded Oriole before, but I hadn’t. What I’d seen at Starr Ranch a couple of years ago was a Scott’s. Then this January I forgot all about that Scott’s , and double counted Scotty in Union Square Park as my life Scott’s.

I eventually cleared that up, but last Sunday I did it again. I was birding with Alberto Marcone, visiting from Italy; and local birder Toni Bryant was showing us around Upper Newport Bay. She found a beautiful Bullock’s Oriole in full breeding plumage which I initially misidentified as a Hooded Oriole. Toni politely corrected me, but I still didn’t realize that this beautiful orange bird with a very distinct face pattern was a new bird for me.

In fact, I didn’t figure that out until I was checking my eBird list a few days later and noticed it showed up there as a life bird. I quickly checked back with my complete list (which includes some species from outside the eBird area, as well as a few I only saw prior to eBird’s launch) and sure enough: Bullock’s Oriole was life bird #404.

A little later in the afternoon Alberto and I found a Golden Plover at Bolsa Chica. This was almost certainly a Pacific Golden Plover from the location and time of year. However in non-breeding plumage it’s virtually indistinguishable from an American Golden Plover. (Both birds are possible but unlikely at this location at this time. However the Pacific Golden Plover is merely unlikely while the American Golden Plover is extremely unlikely.) I don’t think I’ll count this one just yet. More should be coming through in the Fall when the plumage is more distinguishable.

We made one final stop at Huntington State Beach across from Bolsa Chica, and added Surf Scoter to the list. Unfortunately we didn’t succeed in finding any of Alberto’s target birds, though he did find the California Gnatcatcher the next day by himself.

Total species count was 66:

  • American Wigeon
  • Mallard
  • Cinnamon Teal
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Lesser Scaup
  • Surf Scoter
  • Bufflehead
  • Pied-billed Grebe
  • Horned Grebe
  • Brown Pelican
  • Brandt’s Cormorant
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Snowy Egret
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron
  • American Kestrel
  • American Coot
  • Black-bellied Plover
  • Pacific Golden-Plover
  • Semipalmated Plover
  • American Avocet
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Willet
  • Lesser Yellowlegs
  • Long-billed Curlew
  • Marbled Godwit
  • Ruddy Turnstone
  • Sanderling
  • Western Sandpiper
  • Least Sandpiper
  • Dunlin
  • Long-billed Dowitcher
  • Ring-billed Gull
  • California Gull
  • Western Gull
  • Forster’s Tern
  • Royal Tern
  • Rock Pigeon
  • Mourning Dove
  • American Crow
  • European Starling
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • Savannah Sparrow (Belding’s)
  • Song Sparrow
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • House Finch
  • Mallard
  • Blue-winged Teal
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Ruddy Duck
  • Osprey
  • Northern Harrier
  • Caspian Tern
  • Royal Tern
  • Black Skimmer
  • Rufous/Allen’s Hummingbird
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Cassin’s Kingbird
  • Common Raven
  • Bushtit
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s)
  • California Towhee
  • Hooded Oriole
  • Bullock’s Oriole
  • Lesser Goldfinch

Not bad considering that we didn’t get started till about 1:00 in the afternoon. If we could have started at 6:00, visited one of the sites up in the hills like Santiago Oaks, and maybe added the freshwater at San Joaquin, we probably could have cracked 100 for the day.

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