The long awaited CAYBC Club trip to Monterey is here! On Sunday we birded good spots in Monterey County and picked up some legendary birds!Starting off the club trip was my lifer Blackpoll Warbler at Pt. Pinos. After walking through a golf course looking for potential Palm Warblers, a potential lifer but one we didn’t see, some other club members pointed us to a close Blackpoll. This is probably one of the 4 seen last week and it provided us with excellent views. We also conducted a seawatch from Pt. Pinos and picked up flyby Black-Vented Shearwaters, another lifer, and some Parasitic Jaegers, a cool bird I had only seen on Pelagics. Unfortunately I had missed a Black Scoter, which would’ve been a lifer, but alas, this is how birding goes, you sacrifice one species to get another.
After going to a few other spots that were much less successful, we went to Carmel River State Beach to find one of 3 or 4 continuing Harlequin Ducks! They were quite far away but were a pleasure to see with their navy and rusty red coloring and intricate white pattering. This was an overdue lifer but still a very good one to see.
And from the same spot we saw the Harlequin Duck, Brian, a club member spotted a LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL!!!!!!! A super good rarity for Monterey and a lot of people’s lifer or state bird, this guy was an extremely good find! He was mixed in with a large gull flock that was bathing in the lagoon, his very dark mantle (wing/back color) really set him apart. Upon closer inspection, the pale iris that is lemon yellow, and the fine streaking on the back of the head confirmed the sighting. Our group went crazy and watched it for a good 2 hours. It occasionally took off but would land right back at the same spot. The way we found it was funny. Brian said he had a LBBG and his reasoning was “it had a black back and it looked weird.” Jonah came over and confirmed it. We all praised our lord and savior Brian.
The last picture is of a very strange Red Tailed Hawk. A possible Harlan’s Red Tail, a distinct subspecies, might be even a subspecies hybrid, even rarer, so this birds identity is still up for debate. Whatever it’d identity, this is a very cool bird.