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#ABArare – White Wagtail – California

There's just something about an Alaskan goodie in the Lower 48 to get a birder's heart pumping. On Saturday Dec 8, birders in California got to enjoy that bird-inspired elevated heart rate with the discovery of a White Wagtail (Code 3) at Cabrillo Beach Park. Bernardo Alps found it on the outer beach (the beach on the ocean side, not the harbor side) at this park in San Pedro, located west of Long Beach and south of Los Angeles, around 9:15 AM. The wagtail was flying back and forth along the entire beach. Later in the day, Dinuk Magammana reported that it appeared to have a preference for patches of dried seaweed on the rocks.

ABArare White Wagtail LA CO

ABArare White Wagtail Dinukphotos by Dinuk Magammana

To get to Cabrillo Beach Park, take either I-110 or I-710 from I-405 (if you want to communicate with southern Californians in their own dialect, refer to them as "the 110", "the 405", etc) and head south. If you're on I-110, turn left onto N Gaffey St and head south. Make a left (east) onto W 19th St, then right (south) on S Pacific Ave. Turn left (east) onto Stephen M White Dr and then a slight left onto Oliver Vickery Circle Way.

If you take I-710, take the exit for Piers S T/Terminal Island and go west on W Ocean Blvd. This road becomes CA 47. Take the Harbor Blvd exit towards San Pedro (south). Turn right (southwest) onto S Crescent Ave, then a slight right (west) onto W 19th St, and next turn left (south) onto S Pacific Ave. The directions then are the same as from I-110: Turn left (east) onto Stephen M White Dr and then a slight left onto Oliver Vickery Circle Way.

Click here for a map of the location. Parking is available at the beach from 5 AM to 10 PM. It's free for the first 20 minutes and then $1/hr up to $9 for the entire day. Payment is in cash.

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John Puschock

John Puschock

John Puschock reports ABA rare bird alerts and manages #ABArare for the American Birding Association. John is a frequent participant in rare bird forums around the web and has knack for gathering details necessary to relocate birds. He has been a birder since 1984 and now leads tours for Bird Treks, as well as for his own company Zugunruhe Birding Tours. He has led tours to locations across North America, from Newfoundland to New Mexico and from Costa Rica to Alaska. He specializes in leading tours to Adak in the Aleutian Islands.
  • Rob

    OK, I saw and enjoyed this bird this weekend. But let me just whisper the unsaid–does it give anyone pause that this bird is immediately adjacent to the Port of Los Angeles–the largest container port in the U.S.? 🙂

  • Ted Floyd


    To me, it’s okay that this bird may have hopped a ride to California. If I could see the bird, I’m sure I would enjoy it, too. Congratulations to finder Bernardo Alps, and felicitations to all of you who have enjoyed this totally amazing, plainly beautiful bird–regardless of how it got to California.

    What? What’s that I hear? Yes. All the way out here in Colorado, we can hear the hissing of the 3 or 4 remaining NIBerssssszzzzz…

  • Up until now, all of the White Wagtail complex birds that I have seen in California have shown up in Los Angeles County in this general area–typically in the LA River, our magnificent concrete flood control ditch that runs from downtown LA to the sea. My first wagtail was in a similar concrete flood control chanel in Orange County that is no-where near any shipping ports. This is the first wagtail in California that I am seeing at a beach (while I have seen them on the beach in China). In my native Hungary they run around on concrete e.g. petrol stations. Two winters ago we had a King Eider in the same exact spot.

  • Steve Hampton

    The vast majority of vessels arriving in Port of LA/LB from Asia are coming across the Pacific thru Hawaii or passing north of Hawaii. The vessels that weave between the Aleutians on the “great circle” route are on the Japan-Vancouver/Puget Sound route. Thus, any wagtail hitching a ride is many times more likely to end up in Vancouver. For vessel traffic maps, see…1c.1.bZtKIWHWeec

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