Tuesday, January 29, 2013


This Morning drove over the hill to Atascadero to check out the birds at Atascadero Lake and the Sewer Facility.  Weather was cold, breezy, and as you can see by the photo, the clouds were fabulous.  Walked around the lake. Coots and Mallards were abundant.  Found interesting hybred Mallards.  There were two that had Mallard heads and totally white bodies (rather bizarre); another pair had mallard bodies and white head with a tuft at the top. (must be something in the water)
Around the lake are numerous Valley Oaks that supply the Acorn Woodpecker with acorns that the woodpeckers cram into the nooks and crannies of the tree's thick bark.  I could hear the Woodpeckers, but they were at a distance.  Yellow-rumped Warblers were busy and had a few sightings of the perky little Oak Titmouse.
The Sewer facility is located near the Salinas River bed.  In the past I had seen Wood Ducks in the filtration pond but today only one Mallard was present.  Nearby is the trailhead to a 5 mile segment  of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.  The trail goes from Sonora Mexico to San Francisco.  It is a narrow dirt path, much used by horses which may have had something to do with cutting the walk short plus large rain drops that had begun to fall.  Checking out the oaks as I trudged back to the car, I spotted a Great Horned Owl.  Wow, he/she was a beauty.  I was a happy camper.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


 Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival - Easy Birding Cloisters Park - 9:00 to 11:00.  Weather - clear and breezy.  From near and far came seventeen fearless birders.  Breezy conditions did not deter us from identifying 30 species of our feathered friends.  The precious Sora was unbelievably cooperative and very easy to see and photograph. (Sora photo taken from overlook)  In the fields on the north side of the pond we had the best sightings ever of a flock of American Pipit. Across from the Pipits a flock of eye stunning Meadowlarks were feeding and swooping about.

At the end of the walk, about seven of us hung around the overlook for a few minutes, out popped our little Sora with its bright yellow bill. While focused on the Sora a new arrival was noted, a handsome Northern Pintail - an unusual sighting for the Cloisters Pond.  Pied-billed Grebe appeared at the same time.  The last two sightings were like frosting on the cake.

Birding with a group of new and experienced birders is a privilege and a heart warming experience.  I am looking forward to the next time. (Included is a link to a video on Cloisters Park)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


New Year's Day 2013 - In pursuit of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus) that had been seen in the company of Robins and Cassin's Kingbirds feeding on Ivy Berries that grow along Arroyo Grande Creek in the charming little town of Arroyo Grande.(regretfully Scissor-tailed Flycatcher not in photo)

 A few moments after parking  I spotted the local photographers, their long lenses focused on the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Fortunately I got a good look before it took off.  The Flycatcher was larger than a Kingbird, gray above, whitish and salmon pink below, and of course, a long scissor-like tail - most impressive!  It is not everyday one gets to see the State bird of Oklahoma.
Next stop the San Luis Obispo Creek where it quietly meanders past the Avila Beach Golf Course on its route to the Pacific. The photo was taken from the Bob Jones Trail.  One can cross over the creek on a nearby foot, bicycle, golf cart bridge.  The bridge allows for excellent viewing of the water birds.  Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) and Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) winter in the creek. Both species are agile divers, spending much time feeding underwater.  The Hooded Merganser, the smallest of the three species of Merganser, has a third eyelid that protects the eye when swimming, much like a pair of goggles.  I hope these wonderful species hang around for the Morro Bay Bird Festival that begins on January 18th.

Happy New Year!