Highlights from Tuesday (4/17) birding between Atascadero and Carrizo Plains:
Common Merganser - The pair of Common Mergansers that I reported yesterday were once again circling repeatedly over our house at about 0730 this morning.
Lewis's Woodpecker - 1 bird photographed along Hwy. 58 just east of Santa Margarita (more specifically, in the first half mile after the jct. with the road to Santa Margarita Lake). This is the first one I've seen in this area in 2 or 3 years.
Purple Martin - In the same area as the Lewis's Woodpecker, I photographed 5 Purple Martins (4 males and 1 female) investigating holes in the tops of telephone poles along Hwy. 58. The males were very vocal.
A check of the area around Queen Bee Mine revealed surprisingly few migrants, although we did find one singing Nashville Warbler, a male Costa's Hummingbird, and a pair of Hutton's Vireos constructing a nest.
The road from Hwy. 58 to the Queen Bee Mine had lots of Cassin's and Western kingbirds, as did Bitterwater Valley Road. Several bridges along Hwy. 58 had thriving Cliff Swallow colonies. We also noted a number of Bullock's Orioles throughout the day, including obvious migrants flying high over treeless stretches.
The stretch of Hwy. 58 between Bitterwater Road and Soda Lake Road produced a group of at least 6 Tricolored Blackbirds and a single Swainson's Hawk.
Elkhorn Road yielded 5 Le Conte's Thrashers (2 pairs and a lone adult), 2 Sage Thrashers, and large numbers of Sage, Lark and White-crowned sparrows.