Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Birding There but Mostly Here

Atascadero Lake, Atascadero Ca.  A short jaunt over the hill, about 25 minutes, brings you to Atascadero Lake Park. The photo was taken three years ago when the lake was full.  Last year due to the drought the lake dried out, as a result all the feathered inhabitants moved on.  Fortunately this October rains filled the lake enough to bring back some of the birds.

The air was crisp when my friend Mike and I arrived.  We went for a brief walk to check out the best spot for viewing, as there is quite a bit of vegetation along the edges.  Upon returning to the car we spotted Roger Zachary, one of the top birder/photographer in the county, setting up his scope.  Oh my gosh, what great fortune to come across Roger who had been posting to the slobirding yahoo group the birds he had been observing at the lake.

 Roger took the scope down near the edge of the water to show us 5 Common Snipe that were feeding in a slightly moist area along the weedy fringes of the lake.  Prior to Roger's arrival we had been looking for them but to no avail.  We also had fabulous sightings of Ring-necked Duck, male and female. 
The memorable sighting of the morning was of a Bald Eagle as it flew over the lake.  Photo was taken by Roger Zachary at Atascadero Lake.

 Birding the King Tides in Morro Bay - Very high tides cause the migratory shore birds to seek out higher areas when they can wait till the tide goes out.  Thousands of shore birds are densely packed on thin strips of pickleweed far out in the bay.  Most of the water fowl are in the shallower areas where it is difficult to view them.  As the tide goes out the birds move into their favored feeding areas.  The tide was at its highest when I arrived.  From the Marina boardwalk could be seen about 40 Brant Goose and a few Northern Pintail and Northern Shoveler.  Many Snowy and Great Egret were feeding along the edges of the high tide.  There were 20 Avocet close enough to get a great photo, if only one had remembered to bring her camera.
                                 Morro Bay Marina
On the narrow boardwalk a cluster of birders were taking photos of the seldom seen Nelson's Sparrow whose habitat is somewhere out in the pickleweed.  The Nelson's only comes into view when the tide is extreme.  A photo of a Nelson's Sparrow is a feather in a birder's cap. 
The best time to bird the Morro Bay King Tides is an hour or two after the tide begins to ebb.