Saturday, January 29, 2011


Elfin Forest, this morning. Weather cool and overcast. I have many favorite birds. The California Thrasher (Toxostoma redivivum) is one of my favorite, favorites. Its usually perch is atop a shrub, making it easy to see.

This time of year the male is hoping to attract his love by impressing her with his enthusiastic songs. Click on the photo link(below) to hear a California Thrasher mimicking the call of a Northern Flicker.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


The entrance to Harmony Highlands State Park is on Hwy I, 5 miles north of Cayucos. The pond is located about 3/4 of a mile into the park.(photos -Monterey Cypress, Red-tailed Hawks) The weather was warm with no wind.

On the pond were Canvasback (the thrill of the morning), Ruddy Duck, Bufflehead, Cinnamon Teal, No. Shoveler, Coots, Mallards. Black and Say's Phoebe were abundant. Had wonderful sightings of a male Northern Harrier skimming over the grasslands. Harriers use their sense of hearing to help locate prey. Four Red-tailed Hawks were soaring. For the past couple of years they have nested in a non-native Eucalyptus that is near the pond. Many bird species have become habituated to Eucalyptus, especially the raptors.

A few years ago the state poisoned the Eucalyptus. Eventually, the tree will fall, and the Red-tailed Hawks will have to go elsewhere to nest. Seems rather unfair and illogical to me.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Saturday, revisited the Bob Jones Trail. The weather was perfect, warmish, clear, no wind. Many walkers and bikers using the trail. I was the only birder that I could see. Saw the usual shrub and ground birds. The Acorn Woodpeckers were busy hiding acorns. They store nuts in individually drilled holes in trees, fence posts, and sign posts. The acorns are jammed in so tight that squirrels cannot pry them out. Some granary trees can have thousands of holes.

Had an excellent view of two handsome male, Hooded Merganser, chased them along the creek, catching glimpses of them between dives. Fortune shined again with a great sighting of a Hermit Thrush (photo). In an apple orchid, that obviously had not been picked, spoiling apples were an attraction to Yellow-rumped Warblers. They were everywhere - too many to count.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


This mornings walk was delightful. The weather was warm with very little wind. The birds were cooperative, and there were fourteen enthusiastic and cheerful birders (photo-birder, Barbara Akle) . What more could one possibly want?

Good sighting of the Meadowlark (one was attempting to sing). Great sighting of two Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Many Black-crowned Night-Heron around the pond and a couple of Great-blue Heron. As the walk was winding down, we watched two Red-shouldered Hawk diving on a Red-tailed Hawk that was perched at the top of a Eucalyptus. The Red-tailed did not seem fazed by the testy Red-shouldered Hawks. Our bird count for the morning was 27. Not bad for a 2 hour walk in the Cloister's Park.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Yesterday, gave the first of two "Easy Birding" walks in the Cloister's Park. Weather was coolish with a slight breeze, and puffy clouds. Our total bird count was 21. Most exciting was the brilliant yellow breast of a Meadowlark. A flock of these fine looking birds can be found in the grass east of the playground. Many of them were posturing, with head and neck pointing up, much like a Bittern. Co-leader Sylvia (photo) and I thought the posturing was part of their mating ritual. A lovely morning, but there was a bit of a snag. No one showed up. I do hope attendance is better for tomorrow's walk.

Well, that was yesterday. On to this morning. For some unknown reason, after a cup of delicious coffee and dressed in several layers of warm clothing, and with flashlight in hand, I headed toward Sweet Springs, to listen for the gentle hoot of a Great Horned Owl. The time was 6:00a.m. In route I had a phenomenal sighting - a meteor flashed by. It was in our atmosphere. It was not a tiny dot, but a bright object moving very fast from south to north east.

The Owl was gently hooting from somewhere in Sweet Springs. No one was about. A breeze came up. Not wanting to come across a skunk or raccoons I opted not to enter the dark and spooky looking forest. I did go a few yards in but turned around when it got winder. A wise move on my part. Suddenly there was a large crash, more than likely one of the Eucalyptus falling. Fortunately it was not the tree the Owl was perched in, as he continued to hoot.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


The Morro Bay Bird Festival begins tomorrow. At 8:00 Linda will be taking a group of 15 to several photographic hot spots that feature great scenery and great birding. This morning Linda and I took a trial run. We began at the Morro Bay Marina sand spit. In the marina were 2 Western Grebe and 3 Pied-billed Grebe that were being a bit feisty (the breeding season has begun). In the shrubbery we saw the usual, plus Song Sparrow, Meadowlark, Gray-blue Gnatcatcher, Yellow-rumped Warbler. Out in the mud flats were thousands of diving and dabbling ducks, cormorants, Brant, Sanderlings, Sandpipers, White Pelican.

Next stop, The Elfin Forest - The Fuchsia-flowering Gooseberry is beginning to bloom. We saw Calif. Thrasher (photo), Bewick's Wren, Gnatcatcher, Anna's Hummingbird. At the overlook (the tide was lowish), American Wigeon, Cinnamon and Green-winged Teal, Avocet, Dowitcher, Pintail, and scads of shorebirds. In the shrubbery and pine trees by the parking area were 2 Hermit Thrush and Junco.

Last stop Sweet Springs. A gentleman pointed out a Great Horned Owl. Well, that made the morning. A Kingfisher was in the area of the pond. From the overlook we could see thousands and thousands shorebirds, ducks, Terns, and a huge flock of Brant. The birding was beyond amazing. Without a doubt, Linda's photographic/birding event will be a tremendous success.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


The Point Buchon Trail is located on PGE property on the south side of Coon Creek. I took the mile loop. It was windy and cold, but I persevered. There were the usual birds in the brush, Spotted Towhee, Calif. Quail, a singing Calif. Thrasher,and a busy Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

On the bluff where the cattle were grazing were numerous Meadowlark. The short grass makes it easy to see their brilliant yellow breast. As I was gazing at these gorgeous birds a Peregrine Falcon flew in and scooped one up in her talons. The Meadowlark was loudly protesting as the Falcon flew off.

Birdwatching was not my only goal. I was hoping to see spouts from migrating Gray Whales. Barely on the trail five minutes when I saw several spouts and the back of a whale. Great birding and whale watching - the Central Coast provides!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


The morning was sunny, slightly cool and gorgeous. We entered the Bob Jones Bike/Walking Trail at San Luis Bay Drive. We walked to the bridge that crosses over the San Luis Creek, about a 2 mile round trip. At the beginning of our walk there was much bird activity. Juncos, Chickadees, and very talkative Oak Titmouse were abundant. Acorn Woodpeckers were squawking and hiding acorns (photo - 2 Acorn Woodpeckers in gnarled Sycamore tree). It was birding heaven.

The section of the trail we were on follows the San Luis Creek as it meanders to the sea. At this time of year the Willows and Sycamores have lost most of their leaves which makes viewing the birds a pleasure. The most fun we had was trying to figure out the species of a large plump bird, scrunched down, sleeping with its back to us, and its head tucked in. At first I was mostly convinced it was an owl. Then we saw two more of them. We were still unsure. Several people stopped by to help us ponder the situation. We had moved on a few yards but decided to have one last look. My friend Sylvia said, "It's head is up." It took only a few moments for us to realize that our owl was an immature Black-crowned Night Heron. I really wanted it to be an owl.

At the bridge we saw one of our winter migrants,a female Common Goldeneye, and I believe I had a glimpse of the male further up the creek. Our total count for the morning was 25 species. I highly recommend the Bob Jones Trail.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


The amount of rain we have received is rather amazing. Since Dec. 5th, nearly 14 inches, which includes last night's 2.10 in. Never let it be said that I am a fair weather birder. In between the showers I have managed to get out and about.

Friday - Whale Rock Reservoir and Cottonwood Creek Road - Rain pending - (the road belonged to the cows) - No eagles were present. About 10 White Pelicans in a tight group at the mouth of the north creek. Although we have received much rain, the reservoir was very low. There were numerous raptors soaring, and 3 colorful Kestrels. Several miles up the road were Yellow-billed Magpie - a rare sight, as they are seldom seen on the coast side of the hills.

Thursday - Elfin Forest - Calif Thrasher (photo) and Bewick's Wren were singing. Blue-gray Gratcatcher was playing hide and seek. The tide was just right to see all the ducks and shore birds. Most unusual were 2 Canvasback and a Eurasian Wigeon (red head), and hundreds of Dowitcher.

Today - Baywood - Thunder rumbling - In the vicinity of the pier - about 30 dabbling Blue-winged Teal. No shore birds. At the Baywood Point a small cluster of White Pelicans. In trees and shrubbery along Pasadena Ave., Red-breasted Nuthatch, Chickadee, Red-winged Blackbirds, Orange-crowned Warbler, American Goldfinch. I am looking forward to dry, warmer weather.