HORNED PUFFIN in Monterey
- 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.
Jacob Saucier, jsauci3@...
Louisiana State University (currently working at Southern Sierra
Research Station; Kern County)