#450: Thayer’s Gull at Bolsa Chica

Saturday Jon Dunn led about a dozen volunteers from the Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy on a field ID trip to Bolsa Chica. Dunn’s a noted expert on California birds in general and gulls in particular, so we found some birds I never would have picked out without him like this first-year Thayer’s Gull:

Immature 1st year Thayer's Gull

Notice the skinny, all-black bill, pink legs, dark tail, and dark eye on a coffee-colored, scaly gull that’s the same size as the California Gull in the background. Not so obvious in this poor digiscoped photo (I just held up my camera to the scope eyepiece and prayed) is the white striping along the primaries.

Dunn also picked out another county first for me, three Greater Scaup from a flock of Lesser Scaup, which I would not have felt confident doing. I would havve (and did) notice the Snow Geese on my own (even if I did initially miscall them as Pelicans–after all, large white birds with big black patches on their wings are much more likely to be pelicans around here than geese) but I probably wouldn’t have noticed that two of them were in fact Ross’s Geese. However I did find our first Glaucous-winged Gull, and although I didn’t call it, I at least recognized it as something out of the ordinary.

Jon Dunn, Lena Hayashi, and other birders with scopes at Bolsa Chica

In three and half hours barely moving from the spit, we found over 50 species including seven gull species:

  • Heermann’s Gull
  • Ring-billed Gull
  • Western Gull
  • California Gull
  • Herring Gull
  • Thayer’s Gull
  • Glaucous-winged Gull
  • Snow Goose
  • Ross’s Goose
  • Canada Goose
  • Gadwall
  • American Wigeon
  • Mallard
  • Cinnamon Teal
  • Northern Pintail
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Canvasback
  • Greater Scaup
  • Lesser Scaup
  • Bufflehead
  • Red-breasted Merganser
  • Ruddy Duck
  • Pied-billed Grebe
  • Horned Grebe
  • Eared Grebe
  • Western Grebe
  • American White Pelican
  • Brown Pelican
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • American Bittern
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Snowy Egret
  • Reddish Egret
  • Osprey
  • Northern Harrier
  • American Coot
  • Black-bellied Plover
  • American Avocet
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Willet
  • Lesser Yellowlegs
  • Long-billed Curlew
  • Marbled Godwit
  • Ruddy Turnstone
  • Red Knot
  • Western Sandpiper
  • Least Sandpiper
  • Dunlin
  • Short-billed Dowitcher
  • Long-billed Dowitcher
  • Caspian Tern
  • Forster’s Tern
  • Royal Tern
  • Rock Pigeon
  • Mourning Dove
  • Savannah Sparrow (Belding’s)

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