Sunday, April 24, 2011


Saturday was overcast, mild with no wind. Checked out the creek at San Simeon State Park. First sighting were two (photo) adorable Northern Rough-winged juveniles. There were also hundreds or thousands of Cave and Cliff Swallows nesting under the Hwy. I bridge that crosses the creek. In the reeds were noisy Great-tailed Grackles, Marsh Wren, and the precious Common Yellowthroat. In the Willows, along the boardwalk, saw a Hutton's Vireo.

Across from San Simeon State Park is a short road that ends at a trail head. There is an opening in the fence and a sign that says, "dogs on lease permitted." The trail goes about a mile to the little community of San Simeon. I had heard from a friend that there were some great wildflowers, and indeed there were. The trail follows the edge of the bluff, quite moist in areas. The only birds I saw were Cormorant, Oystercatcher, Meadowlark and Savannah Sparrow. I was enchanted by the flowers. The Coastal Dandelion, Blue-eyed Grass, Lupin, Sheep Sorell, Filaree, Thrift, and Scarlet Pimpernel were numerous. The majority of the plants I could not identify, but I certainly enjoyed looking at them. (photo - reddish plant, Sheep Sorell; blue plant, Lupin; yellow, Dandelion.)

Coast Sun Cup (Camissonia ovata) was prolific along the edge of the trail.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Cottonwood Creek Road above Whale Rock Reservoir. (photo - one of the many Turkey Vultures that were perched in a Sycamore Tree)

The weather could not have been finer. I was in paradise! The only sounds were the songs and tweets of many species of birds. After I turned on to Cottonwood Creek Road, crossed over the cattle guard (cattle wander freely), I stopped by a grove of huge old Oaks. A couple of House Wrens were in full mating mode, singing their beautiful song. Had no trouble seeing them as they were directly in front of me. Up the road a bit was another pair of House Wrens. I really like their cheeky nature.

Saw 30 species as I meandered about two miles up the road. Two mature Bald Eagles were perched in their usual oak tree by the water (Major Treat!).

The reservoir is about 80% full. On the water, near the reeds, were about 25 Western Grebe. Hopefully they will nest this year. The past few years the water has been too low for the Grebes to nest.

About a mile along the road is an open barn and corrals. A pair of Western Bluebird were once again nesting in an old post. An Ash-throated Flycatcher (a most fabulous bird) Ash-throated Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens) | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
was attempting to hang out in the same area as the Bluebirds. He/she was chased off several times by the Bluebirds. The Flycatcher finally realized, this was Bluebird territory.

List of sightings: Bald Eagle, West. Bluebird, Kingfisher, Red-winged Blackbird, Coot, Double-crested Cormorant, Calif. Quail, Say's Phoebe, Mourning Dove, Killdeer, West. Grebe, Am. Goldfinch, House Finch, Wrentit, Calif. Towhee, Wilson's Warbler, Bewick's and House Wren, White-crowned and Song Sparrow, Great Blue Heron, Northern Harrier, Red-trailed Hawk, Ash-throated and Pacific Slope Flycatcher, Acorn Woodpecker, Scrub and Steller's Jay, Cliff Swallow, many Turkey Vulture. Conspicuous by its absence was Black Phoebe.

On the way home stopped by Morro Rock to get a Peregrine Falcon update. There was a biting cold wind. In the channel were Eared Grebe and Common Loon both in breeding plumage, also a pair of Surf Scoter. Bob, the Peregrine guy, said that at about day 30 the Peregrine pair abandoned their nest, mated again, and are in a new nesting site located below the first nest site. I have included a Flickr link to the location of the new nest. Peregrine Falcon Aerie #2 - | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Wednesday enjoyed a most delightful field trip with Harry and Norma. Weather clear, and mild, no wind. We meandered around looking for birds and wildflowers. Our bird count came to 23 or so. Best birds - Raven, Yellow-billed Magpie. Northern Shrike (3), Western Kingbird. Red-tailed Hawks were numerous. We really enjoyed watching a pair of No. Harrier skimming along the hill tops looking for breakfast.

Lunched in Parkfield at a charming park shaded by cottonwoods. Parkfield is located in the Temblor Range between the San Joaquin Valley and the Central Coast - elevation 1,529ft. This quaint community of 18 also is located along the San Andres Fault, one of the longest and most active faults in the United States; it appears in the town as a dry creek bed (we drove over the fault). The fault marks the division between the North American Plate and the Pacific Plate. We ate lunch in Parkfield at a charming park shaded by cottonwoods. Acorn Woodpeckers were abundant and chatting up a storm.

We did not see any fields of flowers, but in the vast open space along Parkfield Road Norma spotted a herd of Prong Horn - a real pleasure seeing those splendid, animals.

Last sighting of the day was in Harry and Norma's yard, a handsome Phainopepla!!