Sunday, October 30, 2011


Morro Strand State Beach - North Point - Sanderlings (Calidris alba ), visitors from the high Arctic tundra, are constantly on the move. Their feeding strategy is to feed in the shallow water left by receding waves; the waves never stop and neither do the Sanderlings; following the movement of the waves, they race back and forth.

Today was warm and magnificent with few people on the beach. From North Point I walked south to the Strand Lagoon, which amazingly, due to high tides and a slight amount of water in the creek, continues to exist. Along the western edge of the lagoon was a flock of 60 Black-bellied Plovers (unusual), a mixed flock of Elegant and Royal Tern, and scads of Long-billed Curlew and Whimbrel.

Next stop, The Cloisters - Maybe one or two birds. Intense growth of reed and willows make it impossible to see into the pond; does bother me a tad, for in mid January I will be leading in the Cloisters an "Easy Birding" walk for the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival. Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival - California Bird Watching at its Best

After a perker upper at Starbuck's I headed out on Turri Road. About 2 miles east is an old windmill. Attracted to the water were American and Lesser Goldfinch (photo - click for larger image), Western Bluebird, Black and Say's Phoebe. Moving around in the dry grass a flock of Meadowlark, and perched upon an old fence post sat a colorful Kestrel.

Final stop - Audubon Overlook. Tide was perfect for viewing a few of our winter guests - No. Shoveler, No. Pintail, Bufflehead, American Wigeon, Ruddy Duck, Green, Blue and Cinnamon Teal - a never ending treat for me to see 3 species of Teal feeding together. Bird count for the day was 58. My next quest - an Eurasian Wigeon.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Another ideal morning at Montana de Oro, perfect for birding the bluff (photo Corallina Cove). On the rocks at Spooner's Cove (lighting was not good for a photo) were hundreds of Brant Cormorant, and scores of Brown Pelican; in the water were Eared Grebe, and a large flock of Western and Clark's Grebe. This gathering of birds meant that a feeding frenzy had recently occurred. There goes another lost opportunity.

Along the dusty trail House and Bewick's Wren were active. Occasionally a White-crowned Sparrow showed its handsome head. On the rocks to the north of Corallina Cove one can always count on seeing Pelagic Cormorant. I found it interesting that there had been no Pelagic at Spooner's Cove; perhaps they do not associate with Brant.

After crossing the rickety bridge I headed up toward the Eucalyptus Grove. Had great fun enticing a Golden-crowned Sparrow (saw few last year) and a couple of Spotted Towhee to come out in the open. Both species were cooperative. Managed to get a photo of the Towhees, an immature and an adult. It is my opinion that many of our local species had late clutches, perhaps due to the prolonged spring rains.
Tomorrow will check the Cloisters for Golden-crowned Sp.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Rounding the gentle curve to Spooner's Cove I was struck by the beauty of the scene (photo-Spooner's Cove-Montana de Oro). The Pacific, a tranquil deep blue, air warm; with barely a breeze. House Wren, Song Sparrow, and busy Black Phoebe were my only sightings at the creek. Continued onward, parking in front of the Ranch House. Checked out the Native Plant Garden, keeping an eye out for Rattlesnakes and Wasps. A Kestrel was perched on a utility pole and a Sharp Shinned Hawk flew by.

In the fall, native brush becomes woody, making it easier to see the usually secretive Wrentit. WRENTIT (Chimaea Fasciata) | Flickr - Photo Sharing! (Photo by Maggie Smith) While in the garden I observed two Wrentit cozy up to each other, wing to wing. They preened their chest feathers a few moments, then preened each other. This behavior continued for a few minutes until a 3rd Wrentit came upon the scene. As per my usual, the camera was in the car.

Chasing after ground insects were Yellow-rumped Warbler and Western Bluebird. House Wren, Townsend's Warbler in the Cypress. The tall pines in the campground were busy with Yellow Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Junco, Chickadee, Flicker, Nuttall's Woodpecker, and more Townsend's. (I'm sure I missed half the Warblers that were darting about)

I did take a photo of Mr. Townsend's Warbler. The out of focus yellow and black smear in the below photo is proof that I actually saw a Warbler. The camera was pointed straight up, hopefully sort of focused on something I thought was a Warbler.

Take a moment - Now stand up; put your head back as far as it will go; hold that position for five minutes; not losing your balance. That little exercise will give you an idea as to how it feels to look for Warblers.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Fall is our summer season; we have less fog, more sun, and not much wind; perfect conditions for my favorite pastime - birding. On the weekend I ventured into Pecho Marsh (aka, Pecho Willows). To be honest I have been avoiding it, as I can spend hours and not find any of the wonderful little migrant Warblers that everyone else is seeing.

An avid birder with a scope took off on the left trail; I took the right. Not wanting to break my leg (again), I proceed carefully over the vines and fallen limbs. I was looking for a Chestnut-sided Warbler. After an hour of intense peering into the tangle of trees, vines, and Poison Oak, I saw numerous Yellow-rumped Warblers (first of season sighting), several Orange-crowned Warblers (have yet to see an orange crown), Chickadee, but not the Chestnut-sided Warbler. Wanting a change of scenery I checked out the Cypress and a willow thicket down by the bay.

On the way back to my car, the birder who had preceded me into the willows, was coming out. He asked me if I had seen anything interesting. "Nothing special," I said. He said he had seen the Chestnut-sided Warbler (3 had been sighted the day before), and told me where to find them. I took the trail to the left, walked in about 50 feet and there were two flitting about. My very first sighting of the Chestnut-sided Warbler - Yeah!

Checked out the Audubon Overlook earlier in the day - Western Sandpiper, Greater Yellow-leg, Black-bellied Plover, Long-billed Curlew, Dowitcher, Marsh Wren and Bewick's Wren. (photo - Black-bellied Plover, center; Greater Yellowleg) A word of caution - In the last two weeks I have experienced two wasp stings, one on the earlobe (not fun), the other on a knuckle. So, watch your step when you are out and about.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Spooner's Cove Lagoon, Montana de Oro State Park (photo) - Beautiful, mild morning. Due to recent high tides, a wide lagoon has formed. I enjoy watching the seasonal changes on the beach. I also enjoy watching birds, but the only bird that was in view was a Black Phoebe.

Behind the Ranch House in the Willows and Cypress along the creek a couple of House Wren were busy scolding. Darting thru the vegetation were two Townsend's Warble, several Orange-crowned Warbler and a Hermit Warbler (first Hermit of the season) and Chickadees.

Yesterday stopped by the Audobon Overlook. All was quiet. Decided to stir things up a bit with a few iPod bird calls. Marsh Wren came out, Song Sparrow and White-crowned sang, Common Yellowthroat showed his pretty face, and the Red-winged Blackbirds were dashing back and forth, (Some of them still had their brilliant red shoulder patches.) and somewhere in the brush a Spotted Towhee called. Now, that is my idea of fun. Just as I was leaving, seven Blue-winged Teal paddled slowly by - my first sighting of these little darlings this season.