Monday, February 27, 2012


Spent a delightful day in Paso Robles birding with Harry and Norma. Moments after arriving at Harry and Norma's, their resident Phainopela made an appearance. The male is glossy black with red eyes and a perky, up-swept hairdo. Phainopela eat berries, and can consume more than 1,000 Mistletoe berries in a day. (photo - deciduous Cottonwood - green patches are Mistletoe)

We birded in three locations: along the Salinas River Bed, an Sycamore/Oak Woodland, the Paso Robles Cemetery.

Our first sighting at the Salinas River was of Turkey Vultures warming their wings. They flew off before I could get their photo. (the more focused I am on birding, the fewer the photos) White-breasted Nuthatch were active in the trees and in the grassy area were many Western Bluebird and White-crowned Sparrow. We saw 11 species.

Next stop, the Sycamore/Oak Woodland. Acorn Woodpeckers were prolific and very talkative. Our most fun was with the perky, little Oak Titmouse. I recorded its call, then played it back. Several responded.

In the bushes along the creek, that meanders through the woodland, were scads of Lesser Goldfinch and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Overhead soared Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawk.

Our final birding hotspot was the Paso Robles Cemetery. Best sighting was a small flock of Cedar Waxwing - They can become intoxicated from eating fermented berries in the winter.

Highlight of the day was lunch. Harry and Norma introduced me to the La Reyena Market on the corner of Oak and 24th. in Paso Robles. They have the best soft taco I have ever had the pleasure to consume.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


In the last few days have seen three species of Falcon - Peregrine, Merlin, American Kestrel. This morning spoke with Bob (Peregrine Falcon Expert) at Morro Rock. He said the Falcons are mating several times a day. As I stood looking at the rock looking for a Peregrine, the male, at Mock speed, flew over my head. Bob said the male strafes the gulls which makes them dive under water.

The Merlin was on a Eucalyptus Branch in Sweet Springs, perhaps eying the sandpipers that were feeding in wet sand as the tide receded. It had been several years since I had seen one; I was thrilled to see this little beauty.

The American Kestrel, out smallest Falcon, was perched on a fence post in the open space area of Laguna Lake (photo). I often stop by there on the way to Trader Joe's. The morning was glorious. Horses were quietly grazing on the trail (photo). They did not even look up as I passed. In the vast fields were flocks of Meadowlarks; their white outer tail feathers flashed as they fluttered about the tall grass.
On the way to Trader Joe's, directly after the Costco/Home Depot shopping area is a field which usually has horses or cattle grazing. This morning, as I sped by, I saw what I thought were geese. When traffic allowed, I turned around and pulled off by a private road that goes into the property. Definitely, Snow Goose; they were going down a berm and out of sight. Slowly I edged along the private road to get a closer look as to were they were going, and there, in a depression was a pond with Snow Goose, Canada Goose, and many Northern Shoveler. I felt like I had found the goose that laid the golden egg.
(caution to novice birders - birding while driving can be hazardous to your health)