Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Blue-footed Visitors from the Galapagos

Blue-footed Booby, Cove Beach
Not since 1971 has a Blue-footed Booby been spotted in Northern California. For the last week or so, multiple reports of immature and sub-adult Blue-footed Boobies have been reported ranging up the CA coast. There are about twenty reports from San Diego, LA area, Mono Lake, Salton Sea and Pt Reyes. Today Monterey Bay coastline and San Francisco is hosting a few. Evidently this phenomenon has not been seen since 1971 (B. Sullivan fide), and may correlate with the local abundance of anchovies seen this season off the CA coastline.

After getting a report from Peninsula Birds about the Blue-footed Booby at Cove Beach, I went on down Wednesday 9/18 to Cove Beach about 1 pm. Sure enough on the west end near the surfer area was the juvenile booby sitting on the rocks where the corms and BRPE hang out. I was able to observe the bird for about ½ hour before it flew, see picture. The lighting was horrible but, hey it’s a BFBO, a good day for sure!
Blue-footed Booby Flight

Here is some more information on the California event from the Joe Morlan Blog:

Status in California
Until this year, there were 114 previously accepted records of Blue-footed Booby in California. The species was removed from the CBRC review list in 1974 because it was thought to be of regular occurrence. It was restored in 1986 when it became apparent it was no longer a regular or expected visitor to the state. Major invasions occurred in 1969 (32 birds) and 1972 (at least 45 birds), but over 40 years have passed since then. Now we are experiencing what appears to be the largest invasion ever with more than 18 birds together at Obsidian Butte (Salton Sea), more than 10 on Anacapa Island and up to 7 at Playa Del Rey. Birds have been seen as far north as Bodega Head in Sonoma County, and one was reportedly photographed at Mono Lake. .
There has been considerable speculation about the cause of this invasion. It seems likely to be related to food resources with sardine stocks being over-fished in the Gulf of California by purse seine fishing and reported declines in anchovy off the California Coast.

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