Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow's primary winter habitat is the pickle weed of the Morro Bay Estuary.  The only time one can see this little, three to five inch beauty, is when a very high tide covers the pickle weed and forces the Sparrow to fly inland.  Sunday morning at 11:00 the 5.8 high tide was perfect for a possible viewing of the Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow.

Fortunately for birders, this little darling seems to prefer the brush located at the eastern end of the Marina Boardwalk (just around the first bend).  After a bit of looking at White-crowned and Savannah Sparrow, the little darling popped out of the dry brush and posed for a couple of minutes - the view was perfect.  I have to admit that this sighting was a "birding moment."

Friday, October 11, 2013

OCEANO LAGOON: A Warbling We Will Go!

The Oceano Lagoon Trail - Try to imagine you are looking in this tangle of willows (above photo) for a song bird that ranges in size from 4 1/2 inches to 5 1/2 inches.  These swiftly moving little Warbler could be clad in greenish/yellow, white/yellow/black, yellow and black, brightish yellow, black and white, yellow/greyish, etc; they blend in with the vegetation.  Willow leaves can turn a bright yellow in the fall which makes it easy to mistake a falling leaf for a Yellow Warbler. (help!)

I do prefer Warblers that have unique identifying marks, such as the Black-throated Gray that has a tiny yellow spot in front of its eye (see photo).  One does not always see the yellow spot, so at a distance and with poor warbling skills, such as I have, one could be looking at a Black and White Warbler instead of a Black-throated Gray Warbler.  (I know that from experience.)

Keep in mind Warblers are seldom at one spot more than a second or two.  Once you see movement, which often is directly overhead in the top branches of a huge willow, you must bring your binoculars up, adjust focus then attempt to locate the bird that a moment ago was flitting through the trees but now is nowhere to be seen and has probably flown to the other side of the lagoon. Warbling takes great patience and a versatile neck.

We (Harry, Norma, and I) arrived at the Lagoon about 9:00.  Conditions were perfect, clear blue sky, mild temp., and no wind.  After three hours of Warbling we had identified 26 species (not all Warblers).  The most notable were four species of Warbler, Black-throated Gray, Black and White, Blackpoll and Yellow.  There were also large flocks of Yellow-rumped Warbler and Townsend's Warbler.

Nearing the point of Warbler overload, we returned to the car, refreshed ourselves with coffee and homemade brownie tidbits.  Not yet finished with our birding extravaganza, we checked out the pond across the road from the lagoon.  Grackles were in the reeds and hanging out with the domestic geese was a snowy white Snow Goose.

To celebrate our success at finding a variety of Warblers, we drove into San Luis Obispo where we enjoyed a scrumptious lunch at the Natural Cafe . . . . .  (Note: proper nutrition is necessary after a morning of intense birding)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


This afternoon around 2:30 visited Cloister's Pond.  I had heard from a friend that the reeds blocking the view of the pond had been trimmed.  The above photo was taken from the main overlook.  The reeds had been trimmed, a more complete job than last year, and the refuse removed (yeah!).  The trimmed area, the brown in the above photo, appeared to offer much to eat.  Two Sora, a mature and a juvenile were foraging and swimming back and forth - great sighting of both birds.  Busy seeking out tasty items were Song Sparrow, White and Golden-crowned Sparrow, and 2 Orange-crowned Warblers. On the sand peninsula a beautiful Killdeer was busy feeding.  In the reeds were numerous Red-winged Blackbirds; on the water one Pied-billed Grebe and numerous Mallards.
The viewing area to the north had also been trimmed - a real treat, as the reeds totally blocked off the view of the water (above photo).  At the present time only Mallards were to be seen, although in the far section of reeds several Black-crowned Night Herons roosted.  I am greatly appreciative for the reed trimming, as I will be leading a bird walk at the Cloisters for the Morro Bay 2014 Winter Bird Festival.

Might you be interested in  Attending the festival is a great way to spend a winter day or weekend.

This is the time of year for Warblers to be passing by.  Get out your binocs. and check out your back/front yard and any nearby park or moist area with trees and shrubs.   Enjoy!!