Los Farallones

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

The fall crew arrives (and so do the migrants!)

Mid-August is an exciting time of turnover on Southeast Farallon Island, with the summer season drawing to a close, and the fall season just starting to heat up. Grace Kumaishi and Theresa Rizza are the two remaining members of the summer crew and are working to wrap up the late season breeding seabird studies. A handful of followed Western Gull, Brandt’s Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot, Rhinoceros Auklet, and Ashy Storm-Petrel chicks remain in followed sites. A handful of Tufted Puffins also remain, to the delight of the crew. While most of these birds will fledge in the next couple of weeks, a few–such as the Ashy Storm-petrels–will be monitored well into October.

The first members of the fall crew have arrived in the past week including biologist Jim Tietz and fall migration interns Amanda Spears and Joey Negreann. The arrival of Amanda and Joey on Saturday coincided perfectly with a sudden influx of migrant songbirds. Highlight species thus far have included a vagrant Northern Waterthrush and more common western migrants such as Hermit Warblers, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Wilson’s Warbler, Hutton’s Vireo, and Warbling Vireo.


In addition to songbird surveys, the fall crew monitors the presence of migrant seabirds and shorebirds on and around the island. Species such as Sooty Shearwaters, Pink-footed Shearwaters, Red and Red-necked Phalaropes have all been observed in great numbers. Members of the crew were excited to spot a Laysan Albatross flying among thousands of Sooty Shearwaters on Monday morning as well as a Semipalmated Sandpiper flitting around artificial Cassin’s Auklet nest boxes in the evening.

For more extensive information on daily island sightings, those interested can follow the fall crew’s activity on eBird using the link below: