Unusual birds at Owens Lake

Observers: Chris McCreedy, Dave Shuford, and Sherry Hudson
Email: cmccreedyatprbodotorg
Date: 05/22/2007
Time: 05:10 PM -0400

Last evening I found several unusual birds in a small shallow flood on Owens Lake surveys. I have surveyed the lake for Snowy Plovers for several years, and so it was exciting to see so many odd species, in this small pond called T-35-1 (northwest of the Owens delta). There was a black Brant, my best look at one ever, with a dozen Gadwall and a Northern Shoveler. There were a pair of Dunlin in breeding plumage, something I've never seen. There were three breeding-plumage Franklin's Gulls, a non-breeding plumage FRGU, and a non-breeding plumage Bonaparte's Gull. The Bonaparte's was distinguished from the Franklin's by a smaller body and bill, lighter, less-uniform-colored mantle, and two more-defined areas of black behind the eye, where as the FRGU in non-breeding feathers had a mottled black head, but the mottling was darker and more uniform. Also a Marbled Godwit, three Spotted Sandpipers, and both Ring-billed and California Gulls. All of these birds were within 75 m of each other - truly a strange sight in a place generally characterized by ravens, larks, California Gulls, and a handful of Snowy Plovers.