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7319HORNED PUFFIN in Monterey

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  • jacobsaucier
    Jun 30, 2008
      Hi Cal-Birders,

      This past Friday June 27, during a brief trip through the Monterey
      area, I observed what was clearly a HORNED PUFFIN in the Monterey
      Harbor near the Fisherman's Wharf. I arrived in the evening
      (~6:00pm) and walked out to the restaurant observation deck at the
      end of the wharf. From here I was doing a brief scan of the harbor
      with bins(10x) when I noticed the bird drifting near a boat towards
      the further west end of the harbor. It was a small dark alcid-type
      bird sitting low in the water with an obvious white face. The bird
      did drift a bit closer (but not much) affording better looks at other
      distinguishing features: a broad, yellow-based bill; an isolated
      white face; and white on the vent and underside of the tail. I was
      considering the more likely possibility of Tufted Puffin, but a look
      at the bird's underside as it reared up and flapped its wings
      revealed an entirely white belly with a restricted black breast band
      (Tufted's are all black underneath).

      As far as I know there is no other bird on the Pacific Coast that
      matches those field marks, but I am open for criticism and alternate
      suggestions. I am not from this area (so correct me if I'm wrong)
      but as far as I know this bird is an unusual but regular vagrant to
      the California coast, especially in winter.

      More specifically, the bird was seen directly west of the
      Fisherman's Wharf about 3/4 of the way towards the rock jetty. He
      was drifting around anchored boats in the general vicinity in front
      of the northern half of the jetty, from the vantage of the
      restaurant's observation deck. A follow-up the next morning did not
      succeed in relocating the bird.

      I'm and Eastern birder, so this is an especially cool bird for
      me, and a lifer. So I feel fortunate to have happened upon it.
      Hopefully others in the area will have a chance to relocate this bird.

      Happy birding,

      Jacob Saucier, jsauci3@...

      Louisiana State University (currently working at Southern Sierra
      Research Station; Kern County)