The month of April in the San Diego south bay was good to birders. Even though many birds have left the area on their northward, some traveling from the south decided to stop and feed for a while. Here is the report for the month of April 2013 and looking towards May 2013 in the south bay (including the Imperial Beach and border region).
There were several sightings of a female long-tailed duck near the Tijuana River mouth in Imperial Beach. It appears that she remained in the area for several days. One possible unconfirmed sighting and one confirmed sighting of a long-tailed duck spotted in the southern end of the larger San Diego Bay. At the beginning of April, there were still hundreds of brant in the bay and a large number of long-billed curlews and marbled godwits. Western and least sandpipers are still plentiful. Black-bellied plovers were beginning to molt into their breeding plumage early in April.
Snowy plovers, year-round residents, are ever present in the Imperial Beach area near the Tijuana River mouth and the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve. Areas are being prepared for both their and the least tern’s breeding season. Rope barriers may be moved depending on the breeding activity. Visitors are reminded not to enter the area roped off even if there appears to be no birds breeding nearby. Visitors are also asked to restrict any activities in the area which disturb the birds (such as kite flying and loose dogs) during the breeding season.
Terns and gulls were gathering at the Tijuana River mouth at the beginning of the month. There was a mix of summer terns arriving, and winter terns leaving. Many California and ring-billed gulls could also be seen. Another unusual sight was several American white pelicans along with California brown pelicans in the same area.
In May, there should be more breeding activity in this area by year-round residents. Look for snowy plover, least tern, and clapper rail chicks in the estuary along with some possibly mallard ducklings with a small chance of gadwall ducklings. Look for coot chicks as well. April and May are also the months where yellow-crowned night heron sightings become more common. Many winter birds, such as curlews and sandpipers, will stay in the area longer and there may be a few non-breeding stragglers after that.