Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Brown Shrike--no; Rock Sandpiper--yes!

We arrived into San Fran just before 11 PM last nite, and Wes was at the curb to pick us up. We drove a couple of hours up to Ukiah, CA where we checked into a motel to get a bit of sleep--like 4 hours. On the road again at 5:30 AM, we made it to the brown shrike site by 9. It was overcast, a bit windy, but no rain. We walked the 1/2 mile out into the dunes area along with about 10 other birders. We all fanned out, and spent the rest of the morning in vain looking for the brown shrike.

We headed back into town to get a bite to eat, and to get on line to see what travel options we might have. We also checked the bird hotlines only to find that no new or recently missing rarities had been seen. We had met a couple of local birders at the shrike stake-out who told us where to go to see a rock sandpiper. As I have said recently, this is one of the birds that I missed earlier in the year, but still expected to find.

It began to rain as we approached the north jetty in Eureka, but we jumped out to walk it anyway. Out towards the end we found quite a few shorebirds--black turnstones, surfbirds, 1 wandering tattler, and 2 rock sandpipers. In the photo above you can see a rock sandpiper in the front with 2 surfbirds and a black turnstone behind it.

The rain stopped, so we stayed out on the jetty for awhile taking in the diversity of seabirds such as 2 pomarine jaegers harassing a black-legged kittiwake; harlequin ducks; black and surf scoters; red-throated and common loons; western grebes; common murres; pelagic and brandt's cormorants; and 2 brown pelicans. We finished the day with 38 new birds for the week, and the rock sandpiper raises the YTD up to 697.

We were hoping big time for the brown shrike because it is Bob Ake's birthday. It would have brought his big year total up to 724 which would be the 3rd highest total for an ABA area big year. He is tied for 3rd with Lynn Barber from Texas, and will undoubtedly move higher before the year is over. Double congrats to Bob for his big year total and his birthday!

We have now checked into our motel for the nite to get some much needed rest/sleep after the crazy travel of the past 3 days. It is supposed to rain tonite and tomorrow, but we are hoping that the front will stay more to the north allowing us to try again in the morning for the shrike. Stay tuned!


  1. Hi there....I may be wrong but I think it's your birthday.....just wanted you to know we are thinking of you today, and congrats on the new record. If anything brings you up here for any reason, our dance card is wide open right now and we can give you a lift. 6 to go, and perhaps less after this morning, rock on!

    Happy Birthday,
    D, J & M

  2. Hi Chris,
    You guys had a White Pelican off of the jetty? AWPE is REALLY rare up here in Humboldt so if you could provide me some details that would be great. My email is migratoriusfwlr@gmail.com.


    Rob Fowler

  3. Happy Birthday Bro! I hope you got a shrike for your B'Day. And congrats on reaching your first goal, 700 here you come. Glad you and Bob are working in tandem, just curious- how many birds has Bob seen in the lower 48 this year?
    Get some sleep- your sis.