[All photographs copyright, Gary Nunn 2016] – An urgent telephone call from Tom Blackman this morning with news of a Magnificent Frigatebird sailing over his head while photographing birds at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve! He said it moved south down towards Scripps Pier in La Jolla Shores. In a bit of a scramble I quickly took off to La Jolla in the hope of crossing paths with this difficult to see species in San Diego County!
Parking was a disaster at La Jolla Cove and I ended up some ways south. This was not so bad as it turned out the frigatebird had gone about a mile offshore, over a fishing boat, and was in fact now located due west of my position. A text message from Jim Pawlicki alerted me from where he was searching at Scripps Pier that he could see it far offshore. As luck would have it the bird then came on a beeline obliquely towards me and eventually circled low over La Valencia Hotel in downtown La Jolla getting a ripping by the local Western Gulls.
This individual appears to be a juvenile with a white head and chest joined to a small white diamond-shaped belly patch. The paler bars on the upperwings are also noticeable. Other than the unique flock which came through La Jolla in 2012, hustled up here by a hurricane off Baja, seeing a Magnificent Frigatebird in San Diego County is a rather lucky affair. Odd singles seem to turn up a couple of times a year but are remarkably difficult to chase due to the mobility of this species.