Saturday, December 25, 2010

CHRISTMAS DAY

The morning was cold, cloudy, dark, and windy. Sea Pines Golf Course pond - Four Ruddy Duck, three eared Grebe, two Canada Goose, and a Partridge in a pear tree.

Sweet Springs Preserve - Out from the overlook: A forlorn looking Snowy Egret (photo), Four Greater Yellowleg, Northern Pintail, hundreds of Ruddy Duck and Greater Scaup, and a sprinkling of Brant Goose. Four Red-shouldered Hawks were soaring, and in the distance could hear a Flicker and a Kingfisher. Brrrrr, I was chilled to the bone. Time for a hot cup of Starbucks Coffee.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT

The Christmas Bird Count, every year since 1900, is a census of birds, performed annually by volunteer birders. The purpose is to provide population data for use in science, especially conservation biology.

The count took place yesterday, Dec. 18th. Rain all day, heavy at times. The preliminary count total of 174 species was far below the 20 year average of 199 species. One new species was noted, the Black-throated Sparrow, which is visiting a feeder on the 300 block of Piney in Morro Bay. I happen to drive by this front yard feeder several times a week because it is on the way to my volunteer job. So thoughtful of the little darling to hang around for the Christmas Bird Count.

I got rather wet, actually drenched, this morning on my walk to Sweet Springs. It was raining so hard I could barely hear the birds; seeing them was even more difficult. Most of the Mallards were snoozing (photo). Notable was the Black Phoebe perched on her usual twig, a vocal Kingfisher, and numerous Egrets.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

LAGUNA LAKE PARK

Laguna Lake, its park lands and open space could not have been more beautiful, deep blue sky, warm air, and a gentle breeze. On the lake: 27 Canada Goose, Pied-billed and Western Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant. In the tress: A mixed flock of Bushtits, Yellow-rumped and Townsend's Warbler, Downy Woodpecker, Ruby-crowned Kinglet (flashing its Ruby Crown). Busy on the ground were White and Golden-crowned Sparrow. In the open space area: Say's Phoebe, Black Phoebe, Meadowlark. A woman jogging with her dog said the open space reminded her of the Serengeti.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

SWEET SPRINGS

Beautiful in Sweet Springs this morning. Mallards were abundant in the large pond. A Great Egret (photo) was looking for breakfast by the second bridge. In the distant channel were Blue-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail (the male is always dressed in his formal attire).

Out from the overlook were scads of Brant Goose, Ruddy Duck, Am. Wigeon, Cinnamon Teal, Bufflehead, Scaup, No. Shoveler, West. Grebe, Caspian Tern. In the brush along the boardwalk got a good view of a Hermit Thrush. Hermit Thrush may come to your birdfeeder if you put out raisins, currants or nut meal.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

BIRDING HERE AND THERE


This lone female wild turkey at MdO (photo) is more like a pet than a wild turkey. It is not shy of people. The campers are certainly enjoying it. The other day it was on the beach to the amazement of the beach goers. (click on photo for larger image)

Yesterday went north to look at Elephant Seals. The males are coming in to establish their territory. We found three huge males on Wind Surfer Beach about a mile south of Piedras Blancas, their usual area. They were spaced about 200 feet from each other.(photo - rear view) Along the shoreline was a mixed flock of Ringed-billed gulls and Royal Terns. In the grassy area above the sand was a lone Ross's Goose feeding on grass.
Today, checked out Sweet Spring. Tide high. Feeding in the flooded pickleweed were the usual Blue-winged Teal and Mallards. There were 11 Snowy Egrets, one G.B.Heron, one Great Egret. A Kingfisher was calling, heard Yellow-rumped Warbler, No. Flicker, Junco and White-crowns. Out from the Overlook was a flotilla of Ruddy Duck with a sprinkling of Bufflehead, Scaup and three Brant Goose. The majority of the ducks are in the Eastern area of the estuary and seem to be staying away from the southern area of the bay.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

ESTERO BLUFFS STATE PARK

The Estero Bluffs State Park (photo) is along Hwy One north of Cayucos. (Weather: Coolish, cloudy, no wind) The shoreline is dotted with rugged rock formations and quite coves. Today we were the only people walking the trail (this park has yet to be discovered). Almost every rock had a harbor seal resting upon it. The sea was so quiet that the seals could rest on partly submerged rocks without floating off. They were all on their backs with their flippers pointing up, which was quite a humorous position. In the water around the rocks were, at least, 14 Red-breasted Merganser and several male Surf Scoter in their black and white finery. We saw one Spotted Sandpiper and a Black Oystercatcher.

Checked out Cloisters Park on the way home. At first it seemed very quiet, and as I hung around for awhile, the birds began to appear. Great view of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Spotted Towhee, Golden-crowned Sp. Around the inside of the pond were numerous Black-crowned Night Herons. Conspicuous by their absence were Red-winged Black Bird, Grackle, Sora, Virginia Rail and Meadowlark. I am hoping that the missing birds will show up for the "Easy Birding Walks" on Jan. 15 and 16. (birding hint - bird calls found on iBird Explorer can be very useful)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

SWEET SPRINGS

On my way to run a few errands this morning I stopped at Sweet Springs. The day was magnificent with baby blue sky and puffy cumulus clouds. Sleeping in the pickleweed that line the channels, were several groups of Blue-winged Teal (photo, male Blue-winged Teal). Had to really look to see them, as they blended in perfectly with the vegetation.

Close to the overlook were about 28 Ruddy Duck (first sighting of the season). Love their perky tail feathers. Two Brant were nearby.

Not in a big hurry, I checked the ponds at Sea Pines Golf Course. Between the two ponds were 48 Coots; in the center of the flock were two Canada Goose. The flock was so intent upon feeding that they did not so much as raise an eyebrow when a golf ball landed in their midst.

Monday, November 15, 2010

MONDAY MORNING BIRDING

Birded with Linda this morning. Between the 3rd St. Coastal Access and the 4th St. Audubon Overlook we saw, all the usual shorebirds and ducks. A flock of Brant Goose were close to the shore. Best birds were Pectoral Sandpiper (feeding by itself, directly in front of us - see photo), Avocets, and a Kingfisher.

Next stop, Turri Road Ponds. At the first pond was a Bonaparte's Gull. The small, most adorable gull, was feeding in the style of a Phalarope. Bonaparte's Gull was named after a nephew of Napoleon who was a leading ornithologist in the 1800's. It is the only gull that regularly nests in trees. At one point the Bonaparte's and a Greater Yellowleg were resting on a small patch of Pickleweed in the middle of the pond.

Morro Bay Marina - We were delighted to get a close look at a Red-throated Loon. At the mouth of the marina was a Common Loon and a Spotted Sandpiper. Great Morning!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Drove north on Hwy 1 to Pacific Grove. Feeding along the creek at San Simeon State Park, were 8 Dowitchers. Were they Long-billed or Short-billed Dowitchers? The long-billed variety is more likely to be seen near fresh water than the short-billed, so perhaps they were Long-billed Dowitcher and then again, perhaps not. I do enjoy the conundrums of birding. A male Kingfisher was diving for his breakfast (at least I had no trouble identifying him).

Point Lobos State Park - Windy, clear, and beautiful. Many Cormorants, Pelicans, Sea Lions, numerous Yellow-rumped Warbler and a few White-crowned Sp. Did not see any shore birds. The swells were large and crashing against the rocks.

Pacific Grove - (photo) There is an excellent path that winds along the entire coast of Pacific Beach. (every other person in Pacific Grove, regardless of age, jogs) The waves had deposited large piles of kelp on the rocks. Feasting on kelp flies were flocks of Black Turnstone. There are nearly the same color as the wet kelp and when not moving can be difficult to see. Joining in on the yummy feast were numerous Yellow-rumped Warbler (my those little guys get around) and Black Phoebe.

Came across a birder with a scope. He showed me my very first view of a Northern Fulmer (exciting). They were flying by and bobbing in the swells.

Asilomar State Beach - On the rocks were Black Turnstone, Surfbird, Willet, Sanderling, and Whimbrel. Two of the Whimbrel had sky blue legs which I found rather unusual. On the way back home I thought I saw a Reddish Egret in a small pond near Abandoned Motel State Park. By the time I was able to turn around and take another look, it was gone. I have to work on my, birding while driving, skills.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

MONTANA DE ORO CAMPGROUND

The MdO Campground had few campers and was delightful to walk through. Most of the action, if one could call it action, was in the back section which was closed to campers. In the cypress, pines, and willows, were numerous Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Black Phoebe (photo), Several Red-shafted Flicker, two female Nuttall's Woodpecker, several Townsend's Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and a first sighting of a Bay-breasted Warbler. Bewick's Wren and House Wren, Hermit Thrush, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. The Gnatcatcher was being chased by a female Anna's Hummingbird. On the way into the park I had an unusual sighting, my first ever in the park, of a wild turkey (female). It was just off Pecho Road about 500 feet before the road into Camp Keep.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

WEDNESDAY BIRDING

High tides cause shore birds to move east toward South Bay Blvd. In order to view these birds one has to park on the east side of S. Bay Blvd., and when the coast is clear, dash across to the bay side. There was a variety of shorebirds and ducks in the lunar landscape of the pickleweed. My favorite sighting was of the recently arrived American Avocet. Watching them feed is a delight. They thrust their bills underwater, swinging them from side to side along the bottom to stir up aquatic insects. Other birds of note, Short-billed Dowitcher and a plethora of Black-bellied Plover. Only a few ducks - Pintail, the three Teals (Blue, Green, Cinnamon), Shoveler, Am. Wigeon, and Bufflehead.

In the thick brush between S.B. Blvd. and the bay were, Quail, Say's and Black Phoebe, Bewick's Wren (see above photo), Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.Next stop M.B. Marina, Caspian and Elegant Tern were diving for fish. Sitting on masts, Osprey and Red-shouldered Hawk. In the pines, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Chickadee. Along edge of the marina was a bobbing Spotted Sandpiper (photo). (I wonder if this is the same one I saw in Yosemite Valley in a marshy wetland this summer.)

Across the road in the Morro Bay Campground I could hear a Steller's Jay and numerous Nuthatches. This is definitely the year of the Red-breasted Nuthatch, as they are prolific.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

SATURDAY BIRDING

Beautiful morning after a delightful rain last night. Between 3rd. St. Coastal Access and the Audubon Overlook - Western and Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated and Black-bellied Plover, Sora, 3 Short-billed Dowitcher, Godwit, Willet, Greater Yellowleg, Long-billed Curlew, Forster's Tern, Northern Pintail. In the brush and reeds Red-winged Blackbird, White and Golden-crowned Sparrow, Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

EASY BIRDING

Drizzle and more drizzle, damp and dark. Walked around the neighborhood. Near the corner of Pasadena and 3rd in a cluster of Monterey Cypress I could here the gentle chatter of Bushtits - hopefully it was a mixed flock. Sure enough, in the trees were Townsend's Warbler, Chickadee, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Bewick's Wren, and Red-breasted Nuthatch. On the bay side of the road I heard a big squawk - a Great Blue Heron had just landed on a branch. Could see nothing on the bay or around the Baywood Pier. Very quiet and peaceful morning.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

SATURDAY BIRDING

9:00 a.m., Morro Strand State Beach (photo). Weather overcast, mild, no wind. Tide on the way out. Heermann's Gull in large flocks. Feeding along the surf line were Long-billed Curlew, Whimbrel, Godwit, Willet, and 4 Black-bellied Plover. A few Surf Scoter could be seen in the ocean.

Cloisters Park - In January, for the Morro Bay Bird Festival, I will be leading 2 "Easy Birding" walks. I was delighted to see that fall birds had arrived in the park. In the large field south east of the lawn were Bluebird, Red-winged Blackbird, Meadowlark, White-crowned and Golden-crowned Sparrow. Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron were numerous around the pond. In the shrubbery were Wrentit, Spotted Towhee, Bewick's Wren, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and one Orange-crowned Warbler.

My last stop was Pecho Willows. Without too much effort saw the Black and White Warbler, a most magnificent bird. (Before I got into birding, I thought all Warblers were yellow.) Nearby were two vocal Hermit Thrush. What I really wanted to see was the Canada Warbler, as I had never seen one before. After about an hour of wending my way through the tangles, doing my best to avoid poison oak, and eventually, with help from a fellow birder, got a great look at this beautiful fast moving darling. At times it was directly in front of my face. Needless to say, that made my day.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

MONTANA DE ORO

The time was nearly 5:30. Sun well hidden by dense fog. Dashing about in the Cypress trees, in front of the Visitor Center, were 3 pair of Western Blue Bird, numerous Yellow-rumped Warbler and a pair of Townsend Warbler. They were finding insects (invisible to my eyes) on the tree trunks, on the ground, and in the air. I think these little insect eaters were gobbling down as much as they possibly could before night set in.

Earlier I had driven into the Campground. Two crows were chasing a tiny field mouse around the wide base of a Cypress. Eventually the mouse was caught by one of the crows, who then flew to the top of the Cypress and ate the little darling. First time I had observed this behavior. I knew Crows were scavengers but did not know they were hunters.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

HIGH TIDE BIRDING

This mornings 6.4 high tide caused the shore birds in the estuary to head for dryer ground. There were many hundreds of Least Sandpiper in the furthest pond on Turri Road (see photo). There was only a sheen of water on the pond. Many of the little peeps were settled into the clumps of pickleweed. None were feeding. When the tide goes out they will return to their feeding along the bay.

The weather was clear, windless and hot. We occasionally get 2 or 3 days of summer in October. At the Morro Bay Marina I walked east along the edge of the brush. The tidal water, moving swiftly into the estuary, cause the larger shore birds to move closer and closer to the edge of the estuary which makes them easy to observe. The Savannah Sparrow, who spends most of it time out in the Estuary Pickleweed, comes into the brush; they were numerous. Shorebirds were in the thousands: Willet, Long-billed Curlew, Wimbrel, Godwit, and Elegant and Forster's Tern. Ah, birding paradise!

On my return trip I stopped at a pullout on South Bay Blvd. to see what ducks had arrived. I was delighted at seeing, for the first time this season, Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, and Northern Shoveler. May have seen Green-winged Teal, but uncertain due to the distance. It makes my heart glad to know that, once again, these marvelous travelers have graced us with their presence.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

WEEKEND BIRDING

Saturday birded with a couple of friends. Best birds at Islay Creek in Spooner's Cove (photo): Brewer's Sparrow and Willow Flycatcher. Up by the Visitor Center there were 6 plus Western Bluebirds dashing back and forth across the road. We really enjoyed their antics. We also observed 3 Wrentits chasing each other.

Only one Greater Yellowleg at the Turri Road Ponds. Most of the ponds have dried out. It takes a very high tide to fill them up. About a mile down the road we watched 4 or more Kingfishers chasing each other. A behavior none of us had seen before.

From the Marina Sandspit we observed a wild feeding frenzy out in the bay, saw and heard a flock of 20 White-fronted Geese fly in from the north and land out in the estuary; also sighted, flying over the west side of the bay, a med. size flock of Brant Geese. Bob, the sea otter, that comes into the marina on the incoming tide, was snoozing peacefully in his bed of kelp.

This afternoon, near the largest pond at Sea Pines Golf Course were 6 White-fronted Geese and at the smaller back pond, 20 Canada Geese. I was hoping to see a warbler or two in the willows by the putting green but no such luck.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

CUESTA INLET CLEANUP

Cuesta Inlet is an excellent area to find migratory water fowl and shorebirds. Over the years the inlet had become an eyesore with numerous derelict water craft and trailers. Notice went out that on Sept. 25, the inlet would be cleaned up. Many Los Osos residents, and young men from the Grizzly Academy in S.L.O. participated in the event. Below is a video on the cleanup - please pardon the bloopers.

video

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

TURRI ROAD PONDS

Turri Road Ponds - Yesterday morning went to the ponds to see the Black-necked Stilt and Wilson's Phalarope. Saw both of them plus about 100 resting Semipalmated Plover. They rest in and on the edges of clumps of pickleweed and are very had to see.

Stilts are a real treat to observe as they seldom visit our area. They have very long red legs. In fact they have the second-longest legs in proportion to their bodies of any bird, exceeded only by the flamingo. Wilson's Phalarope is the largest of the Phalaropes. It does not have fully lobed toes and rarely swims. Its habitat is shallow, muddy or grassy pools and mudflats.

I had not taken any photos yesterday, so this morning was out at 7:00 (before the sun was fully up) to get a couple of pond photos . Could not find the Stilt but the Phalarope was in the same pond and it was feeding in close proximity to three Mallards, our largest dabbling duck (top photo - Phalarope in center). This was the first time I had observed this feeding strategy. My theory was, the dabbling behavior of the Mallards and the constant movement of their feet churned up the water thereby bringing to the surface the minute food items the Phalarope fed upon, which made easy pickings for the Phalarope.

Before going home for breakfast stopped at the Baywood Pier. My first sighting, this season, of Blue-winged Teal (lower photo), about 30, feeding non-stop in the shallow water by the pier. This seems to be a favorite feeding area for the Blue-winged Teal. Again saw the light-colored Godwit. I have never observed this bird with other of his species.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

BAYWOOD BIRDING and BEYOND

Audubon Overlook at 4th St. Long-billed Curlew (photo), 2 Spotted Sandpiper. Always a treat to watch their bobbing. Godwit, large flocks of Western Sandpiper, 6 Greater Yellowleg, one Kingfisher. Forster's Tern and Elegant Tern diving for fish. Close to the Overlook are flowering Mallow bushes. Had a great look at a Rufus Hummingbird.

Around 4:00 walked out the Morro Bay Marina Sandspit with Linda. Fog was coming in. Saw a Spotted Sandpiper, 3 Pied-billed Grebe, and a seldom seen Common Murre preening itself in the marina. I have never had such a great view of a Common Murre. Even though it was foggy, fortune shined.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

OCEANO LAGOON

Oceano Lagoon is located a tad west of Hwy 1 and Pier Ave. in Oceano. A beautiful trail meanders around the lagoon. After about an hour of searching I came upon the mixed flock. In the flock were female Western Tanager, Wilson's Warbler, Yellow and Townsend Warbler, a Wrentit and a female Common Yellowthroat. Earlier I had seen the Warbling Vireo and a Downy Woodpecker. Thanks to the constant chatter of the accompanying Bushtits and Chickadees one's eye gets a hint as to the whereabouts of the little flock. (photos - lagoon trail warbler habitat - Oceano lagoon with mist rising)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

WHALE ROCK RESERVOIR

Whale Rock Reservoir is located a few miles up Old Creek Road in Cayucos. My wish was to see a Bald Eagle. Luck was with me; I saw two adults. (Today's photo did not turn out. This one was taken 2 years ago and is the same tree the Eagle was sitting in this morning.) The second Eagle was on the north side of the lake near the shore. Other sightings, an American Kestrel, 2 deer and 4 plump wild pigs (see photo). On the way home stopped at Pecho Marsh hoping to see the Blackpoll Warbler. No luck. Will try again tomorrow.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

PECHO MARSH

The Pecho Marsh area is located across the road from the corner of Pecho Road and Henrietta in Los Osos. It is a tangle of willow, poison oak, various grasses, vines and reeds, and a few Monterey Cypress. The area is a habitat for migrating fall warblers. Was hoping to see the Chestnut-sided Warbler. Spent about 2 hours. No Chestnut-sided Warbler appeared, but I did see Yellow Warbler, Warbling Vireo, Hutton's Vireo and numerous Chickadees. (photo is of a Spotted Towhee in Coyote Brush) Will try again to find the little warbler.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

BAYWOOD

Baywood Pier 6:30am to 7:00am - Variety is the spice of life, especially when it comes to birding. For a change I was out bright and early. Adding to the Baywood mix of birds were 3 mature and one adolescent Black-crowned Night-Heron (photo by Mike Baird). As often is their demeanor, they looked rather grumpy.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

BIRDING BAYWOOD

Beautiful, sunny morning in Baywood. First stop Sweet Springs - 17 species. Most memorable, a female Kingfisher. Local Kingfishers breed outside of the area and return in late summer/fall. Other birds of note Oak Titmouse, many Chickadees, Nuttall's and Downey Woodpecker.

Like us, birds are creatures of habit. I believe it was part of the same small mixed flock I had seen a few days ago. 6 Greater Yellowleg, 4 Killdeer, one Willet, and one light colored Godwit. At the Audubon Overlook, 8 Greater Yellowleg, two of the three Brant Goose I had seen On August 26th., and a large flock of Western Sandpiper.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

BAYWOOD BIRDING

This morning's weather was cool and foggy. Most memorable birds around the Baywood Pier were: 2 Killdeer, one Ruddy Turnstone, one Short-billed Dowitcher, and one very light colored Godwit see photo). At the Pasadena Overlook were about 50-60 Western Sandpiper and a Caspian and Elegant Tern. At the Audubon Overlook: 3 Brant Goose preening, huge flock of American Goldfinch and a Selasphorus Hummer. Last stop was the Morro Bay Marina: Bob, the sea otter that comes in on the tide, was sleeping in his bed of kelp. Thousands of Willets, Long-billed Curlew, Godwit, and sandpiper in the pickleweed. Best sighting was of 6 Black Skimmer flying across the bay. Second best sighting was a Black Phoebe chasing a Western Sandpiper.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

BIRDING GUEMES ISLAND, WA.


Birding Guemes Island, Wa. (5 min. ferry ride from Anacortes). My great hope was to see a Pileated Woodpecker. Second day on Guemes saw 5 adults and one juvenile (most thrilling). In nearly every tree, of the densely wooded island, were Red-breasted Nuthatch. Brown Creeper was abundant. Many vocal wrens, Bewick's and House. Chestnut-backed and Black-capped Chickadee abundant. Nearly every day saw a Bald Eagle, adults and juveniles. Other birds of interest Wild Turkey, Willow Flycatcher, Belted Kingfisher, and Western Screech Owl, numerous Steller's Jay and Dark-eyed Junco. The morning of the day I was leaving saw a phenomenal sight. Soaring above a marshy wetland at the western end of the island was a Swallow-tailed Kite. I could not believe my eyes. Rarely has this bird been seen in the San Juan Islands - a delightful going away gift.


On the return trip to the Central Coast, drove up the Umpgua River (Oregon) to Crater Lake. This unbelievably beautiful lake is 5 miles wide, ringed by cliffs 2,000ft high. Altitude of lake surface 6,173ft. Maximum Lake Depth 1,943ft. Crater Lake is famous for its clarity and deep blue color. Red-breasted Nuthatch were numerous. Saw several Clark's Nutcracker, Hairy Woodpecker, Steller's Jay, and Northern Flicker. Now that I am home have to get back in gear and check out the winter migrants that are arriving daily.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

BAYWOOD BIRDING

Three species of shore birds by the Baywood Pier - one Godwit, one Greater Yellowleg, five Killdeer. To the south/east of the pier about 50 gulls, composed of Western and Ring-billed. One lonely Snowy Egret. In the distance heard several Caspian Tern. Weather breezy and cold, sun thinking about coming out - all in all, another perfect Baywood afternoon. (photo - view of Sweet Springs from near 3rd St.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

TURRI ROAD DRY POND

The Turri Road Mostly Dry Ponds (photo) - A flock of about 50 Semipalmated Plover were resting in clumps of pickle weed. Every few minutes a small flock of Plovers would fly in and settle into the weed. When I first arrived I did not see them, as none were moving. It was after a flock came in that I began to see them in the vegetation (I wondered what else was out there that I was not seeing). One Western Sandpiper was feeding, and in the small pond to the East were a Lesser and Greater Yellowleg (really enjoy seeing them together). The Lesser was feeding in the water in a manner similiar to a Phalarope, pursuing the insects by spinning around. That was a fun sighting!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

SUNDAY BIRDING


We drove up Turri Road. In the ponds were 10 Greater Yellowleg and 2 Killdeer. About a mile further, on the creek side, was a flock of American Goldfinch, and in a field of peas a pair of Western Bluebirds.

Our next stop was the Morro Bay Marina. We meandered through the brush, enjoying the antics of a large flock of Bushtits (see photo). Reaching the bay we sat on a rock and feasted our eyes upon Godwit, Willet, Long-billed Curlew and a huge flock of Sandpipers flying over the bay. White Pelican and Great Egret were on a sandbar. It is wonderful to see migratory birds returning to the Central Coast.


Our final destination was the Audubon Overlook at the North end of 4th in Los Osos. Our first sighting was of a small, mixed flock of Dowitcher and Willet. Before we could figure out whether the Dowitchers were Long-billed or Short-billed, they disappeared from view. To be honest, they disappeared from view because we had become distracted by a Virginia Rail who was feeding in the mud. Virginia Rails are few and far between around Morro Bay, so this sighting was an enormous treat.


video

Friday, July 16, 2010

CAYUCOS BEACH - ESTERO BLUFFS


Cayucos Beach State Park - Flock of about 30 Heermann's Gull (see photo) resting near the mouth of Old Creek, an excellent area for finding returning migratory shore birds and Terns. Probing in the wet sand were 3 Long-billed Curlew, 4 Whimbrel, and two Killdeer were calling (I do enjoy birds that announce themselves.)

Estero Bluffs State Park - Hoping to see, or at least hear, a Grasshopper Sparrow, but all was quiet. Two Savannah Sparrow showed themselves, 4 Black Oystercatcher on the rocks. Long lines of Brant Cormorant heading north.
(Caution - there are ticks.)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

MORNING BIRDING

(photo taken from Audubon Overlook)
Shore birds are returning to the Central Coast. From the Audubon Overlook at the North end of 4th in Los Osos, saw one Long-billed Curlew, 2 Willet, and 2 Short-billed Dowitcher. In the reeds were many male Red-winged Blackbirds and a Marsh Wren. Heard a Virginia Rail. Would like to have seen the little darling.

Next location, Turri Road, off South Bay Blvd. The ponds are filled by the tides. Saw one Killdeer, 4 Wilson's Phalarope, 2 Greater Yellowleg. Their yellow legs really show when they fly. I stopped a few times along Turri Road. Heard a Kingfisher, and Savannah Sparrow, and a Pacific-slope Flycatcher. About a mile along the road saw a pair of Black-headed Grosbeak. My favorite sighting was a family of 5 Cassin's Kingbirds. The parents were very busy feeding their youngins.
(photo of Turri Road Ponds by South Bay Blvd.)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

SOUNDS OF ISLAY CREEK



Islay Creek, Montana de Oro State Park - Yesterday morning, around 10:00 am, the creek was alive with sound. The little Nano did not capture the sound of the Flicker, but it did capture the intense singing of a Swainson's Thrush that was perched in a willow across the creek. One can also hear the single note of a male Calif. Quail. Not so distinct is the song of a Wilson's Warbler. (Calif. Quail photo by Mike Baird)

video

Thursday, July 1, 2010

BIRDING THE NORTH CENTRAL COAST



Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park was nearly deserted. Perhaps it had to do with the $10. parking fee. The only trail that was open was the one to the falls overlook. Photo shows 80 ft. McWay Falls flowing down granite cliffs at Partington Cove (see video at end of post). Pigeon Guillemots were nesting behind the falls. Two Condors soared overhead. Wilson's Warbler, Wrentit, and Olive-sided Flycatcher were singing in the dense brush along the path to the falls. A few miles north, and about 500 yds. past the Coast Art Gallery is a popular area for viewing Condors. Unfortunately, the dense fog made Condor observation impossible.

Point Lobos State Park. Fortunately the fog had lifted. Pelagic Cormorants were nesting on rocky promontories. It is amazing the eggs do not fall into the sea. Pigeon Guillemots were nesting in the cliffs. About a mile or so out were numerous feeding Humpback Whales. I have never seen such a display of breaching, spouts, tails and backs. One of the perks of bird watching along California's Central Coast is the unexpected nature sightings.
video

Thursday, June 24, 2010

LAGUNA LAKE BIRDING


Photo of Cackling Goose (center) and Canada Goose feeding in the grass at Laguna Lake. In the open space area spotted a couple of Turkey Vultures, A Red-tailed and a Red-shouldered Hawk. Heard a Meadowlark and a Grasshopper Sparrow. Around the edge of the lake a couple of Song Sparrows, Common Yellowthroat, Black Phoebe, Great Blue Heron and an assortment of domestic ducks and geese. Laguna Lake Park is located in San Luis Obispo, West of Madonna Road.

video

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

PEREGRINE UPDATE


Morro Bay - The Morro Rock Peregrine Falcons have had a successful breeding season. The pair on the south fledged two and the pair on the north fledged four. The parents really had to hustle to feed four hungry mouths. At the present time the parents are teaching their progeny to hunt. They may be seen high above Morro Rock soaring and diving.

Friday, June 11, 2010

SWEET SPRINGS - FRIDAY


Sweet Springs was peaceful this morning. Only one of the three juvenile Great Horned Owls was to be seen. Sightings: Junco, Spotted Towhee, Tree Swallow, Nuttall's Woodpecker, Song Sparrow, Common Yellow-throat, Snowy Egret. Out in the bay there was a small feeding frenzy - Great Egret, White Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Caspian Tern (2 )were feasting on the small fish that come in to the bay on the incoming tide. Below is a another funky video taken with an iPod Nano.

video

Saturday, June 5, 2010

BIRDING YOSEMITE VALLEY

One of the many fringe benefits of living on the Central Coast is its proximity (about 240 miles) to Yosemite National Park. The falls are fabulous due to the huge snow pack this last winter. Yosemite, Vernal, Nevada, and Bridalveil Falls feed into the Merced River; as a consequence the Merced is spreading out into the meadows creating wonderful habitat for birds such as the Spotted Sandpiper (my first sighting) and Mergansers.

American Robin and Black-headed Grosbeak were numerous, both singing at the same time which was music to my ears.

Saw a White-headed Woodpecker and a Red-breasted Sapsucker, but only heard the Pileated Woodpecker (more than one) calling across the Fen (marshy bog) near the Happy Isles Visitor Center. Just hearing its call was a thrill. I learned from a fellow birder that Pileated Woodpeckers make a rectangular hole. Also at the Fen saw: Yellow Warbler, several MacGillavray's Warbler, Western Tanager, Brown Creeper and to my delight, there was nonstop singing. Perky Steller's Jay were everywhere.

Had a wonderful view of a mother Common Merganser with six red-headed little ones. Acorn Woodpeckers were delightfully busy looking for insects in gnarled snags. What a treat to bird in the Yosemite Valley. Am looking forward to a return trip. Below is another TFK (terribly funky video).
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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

BRANT AND CANADIAN GEESE


Photo-Brant Goose on Morro Bay-

Today, observed from the Audubon Overlook, located at the end of 4th St. in Baywood, 7 Brant Goose, and 8 Canadian Goose with goslings. The distance was quite far, so did not get a good look. Last year was the first time I noticed a family of Canadian Goose on the bay. At that time I wondered if they had nested in the rather hidden cove to the east of the Audubon Overlook. The Sweet Springs Owls continue to be popular with local birdwatchers and photographers.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

PEREGRINES AND GREAT HORNED OWLS

North side of Morro Rock, Morro Bay, Calif. One nestling observed taking short flights, another nestling a bit hesitant at flying. The north side of the rock is more expansive than the south, and one has to be farther from this massive rock to gain perspective - hence the Peregrines can be a bit difficult to locate. For the next two weeks or so, as the fledglings learn to fly, there will be much Peregrine activity to observe on the North side of Morro Rock.

Sweet Springs, Los Osos, Calif. Fortune shined! Experienced a leisurely sighting of 4 Great Horned Owls which consisted of 2 owlets (3rd owlet not visible) and both parents.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

PEREGRINE FALCON'S of MORRO ROCK PERCHING AREAS




I thought it might be helpful to birders to post photos that have the most common Peregrine perching areas identified. Thanks to the wonders of flickr.com, one is able to make notes on a photo. http://www.flickr.com/photos/docentjoyce/sets/72157624012777973/

Sunday, May 23, 2010

PEREGRINE FALCON PARADISE


Morro Rock, Morro Bay, Calif. 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (The large hole on the left with the flat rock in the center is the nesting hole. It is refereed to as the "Diving Board.") Mom and Dad Peregrine Falcon and the two youngsters very active. The parents soaring and flying from perch to perch. The youngsters taking turns chasing one another, with much vocalization. (the young Peregrines have a yellow band at he end of their tails.) The youngsters land on perches that are open. They are not yet bold or sure enough to speed into a landing on a small rock, an indentation on the cliff face, or into a small hole like their agile parents are able to do. The young Peregrines continue to be fed by their parents.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

PEREGRINE UPDATE

Morro Rock - 10:00 a.m. Much Peregrine Falcon activity at the rock. It has been about two weeks since the nestlings fledged. They are becoming adept at flying and diving. When I arrived dad was sitting, rather serenely, in a small hole. In another area of the rock a youngsters was tearing apart a bird - feathers were flying. Earlier, anxious for his meal, the young Peregrine sped out and snatched the bird from his dad's talons - a most amazing sight.
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Saturday, May 15, 2010

PEREGRINE FALCON UPDATE

10:00 a.m., South side of Morro Rock - Quite thrilling to see the Peregrine Falcon adult male grab a very small bird out of the sky and take it to one of the hatchling, who proceeded to tear it apart (photo by Mike Baird). With a scope one can see, the entire process. Over the course of about an hour the male brought 4 small birds to the nestling.

The female adult which is larger and darker than her mate was not visible. She is the stronger of the two. When there is a confrontation between the Peregrines from the other side of the rock, the female handles it while the male hides out in a hole and screeches.

At the western end of the parking area Bob has two scopes that are always focused on the Peregrines. All are welcome to look through the scopes.

Friday, May 14, 2010

PEREGRINE FALCON NESTLING

South Side of Morro Rock, Morro Bay, Calif. left, Peregrine Falcon Nestling; right, Peregrine Falcon Male. (photo by Mike Baird)

The two nestlings (only one visible in photo) are learning to use their wings by taking short flights. Their parents will continue to bring them food for about another 30 days. Fledglings screech loudly when they spot a parent carrying food.