Los Farallones

Dispatches from Point Blue’s field station on the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge


Today’s weather was cloudy, with low visibility and light northwest winds. Despite the weather conditions, we had the arrival of a couple exciting birds. During the morning area search a group of five American Pipits were seen foraging on the marine terrace. Upon closer inspection, one of the pipits turned out to be of the japonicus subspecies, which breeds in Siberia. Maybe someday this subspecies will be promoted to full species status (one proposed name is Siberian Pipit). Note the bird’s pale, almost white, belly, bold white wing bars, dark, bold malar stripe and pale legs.

“Siberian” Pipit (c) Dettling

Less than an hour later, we had a Snow Goose fly over. It was flying near a couple Brown Pelicans, so we were able to judge its size, and rule out Ross’s Goose. Plus, we heard it honk and were able to get good looks at its large bill. The bird never landed, and wasn’t seen again. We believe this is the first Snow Goose seen on the island in a decade. It’s very interesting that a bird which is highly migratory and very abundant on the mainland, would be so rare out here.

Other new arrivals were: Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Mew Gull, Short-eared Owl, Cliff Swallow, “Western” Palm Warbler, and Purple Finch.

The complete bird list is below.

Location: Southeast Farallon Island
Observation date: 10/29/08
Number of species: 50
Greater White-fronted Goose 1
Snow Goose 1 White bird with black primaries. Long neck like a goose. Single honk. Too large in comparison to pelicans to be a Ross’s Goose and bill too large.
Northern Pintail 3
Green-winged Teal 1
Pacific Loon 1
Common Loon 2
Eared Grebe 50
Pink-footed Shearwater 5
Buller’s Shearwater 126
Brown Pelican 230
Brandt’s Cormorant X
Double-crested Cormorant 2
Pelagic Cormorant X
Peregrine Falcon (Continental) 2
Black Oystercatcher 37
Wandering Tattler 2
Willet 1
Whimbrel 5
Black Turnstone 55
Black-legged Kittiwake 1
Heermann’s Gull 1
Mew Gull 1
Western Gull X
California Gull 155
Herring Gull 2
Herring x Glaucous-winged Gull (hybrid) 1 Large 1st year gull with black bill as large as Western Gull. Checkered back pattern slightly more muddy than a pure Herring. Wing tips darker than mantle, but not black. Inner primaries contrastingly paler than secondaries and outer primaries.
Glaucous-winged Gull 1
Pomarine Jaeger 2
Common Murre 65
Cassin’s Auklet X
Rhinoceros Auklet X
Barn Owl 1
Burrowing Owl 2
Short-eared Owl 1
Black Phoebe 8
Say’s Phoebe 2
Cliff Swallow 5
Rock Wren 2
House Wren 1
European Starling 1
American Pipit 4

“Siberian” Pipit 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s) 1
Palm Warbler (Western) 1
Chipping Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 1
White-throated Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) 2
Western Meadowlark 5
Purple Finch 1