On Friday the 13th I had a scheduled errand to deliver a friend to the airport and launch her on a trip to the UK. After getting her there and helping with all the luggage issues, I decided on a Point Loma breakfast and later to visit the Famosa Slough. The early morning lighting there is not often ideal, but I had the place mostly to myself for the earliest part of my visit. I was hoping to see and photograph shorebirds on their Fall migration, but I was prepared to get images of anything that might present to me. After spotting a juvenile Little Blue Heron foraging at a distance, my patience was rewarded when the big bird wandered in my direction. I had thought that this would be my best bird of the morning, but I was wrong …
I had heard and seen Greater Yellowlegs earlier, but their proximity was less than satisfactory for any photo-opps. That all changed when a group of five birds landed before me. As I was putting the glass to this group, one of the birds clearly looked out of place … not so much as the leg color and bill shape (& color) indicated, but this bird had long conspicuous feathers hanging from the lower neck. The only bird that came to mind with long neck feathers was the Ruff, but that bird is Eurasian and only rarely found in North America. Such an extraordinary claim as this bird would be, required some confirmation, so I called Matt Sadowski, Robert Patton and Phil Unitt. I had to content myself to voice mail with them. I then tried Dave Povey who was kind enough to take my call while contending with airport security and boarding a flight home from Seattle. He suggested contacting Tom Blackman. Robert was able to call me back and Tom was eventually reached and within a few minutes found me and the bird. After verifying the ID, he posted a couple of electronic announcements and word quickly spread. Within a 15-20 minute period about a half-dozen birders arrived and after an hour the group grew to perhaps 15-20 folks.
This day taught me not to underestimate the passion of the San Diego birding community.
Images that I gathered on this day were Ruff, Allen’s Hummingbird, Black Phoebe, Greater Yellowlegs, Little Blue Heron and Snowy Egret.