south county birding: Thursday, May 15

Kevin Zimmer

Bill Rucci and I visited Pismo Creek mouth, the state beach both directions from Pier Avenue (Oceano), and Oso Flaco today.  We were looking specifically for the Laughing Gull and Franklin's Gulls that had been reported in recent days, but without success.

Pismo Creek mouth (and the adjacent beach) had a minimum of 180 Bonaparte's Gulls, 100+ Whimbrels, 2 Royal Terns, and, just offshore, 1 basic-plumaged Red-throated Loon and 1 alternate-plumaged Common Loon.  The Long-tailed Duck was still present in the creek itself, as was a single Clark's Grebe.  Two Eared Grebes in the creek looked as if they might have been oiled.

The state beach produced nothing of real interest ( a few more Bonaparte's Gulls and 3 Snowy Plovers -- one of which was unbanded, two of which sported colored plastic bands on both legs:  green/green + pink/white on one, and green/green + blue/red on the other).

At Oso Flaco, we had 6 Least Terns on the railing of the boardwalk; 2 White Pelicans; 8 Red-necked Phalarope & 1 Wilson's Phalarope, 10+ Long-billed Dowitchers, 15 Western Sandpipers, 8 Spotted Sandpipers, 1 Bank Swallow and 2 Western Tanagers.  We also found 2 active nests of C.b. Chickadees (feeding young at both nests), and a Downy Woodpecker nest (also feeding young).  Many birds in the willows between the parking lot and the lake were gorging themselves on shiny blackish berries, including Swainson's Thrushes and A. Robins, as well as a flock of ca. 20 Cedar Waxwings.

We also walked out to the beach at Oso Flaco, and then south to the creek mouth, where there was a large concentration of gulls and shorebirds.  I estimated 400+ Sanderlings.  With them was a single Dunlin, and a single Semipalmated Plover.  Among the gulls were 3 1st-cycle Glaucous-winged Gulls.

At all three stops today, we noted clusters of Heermann's Gulls -- probably 90% 1st-cycle birds, but with a few alternate-plumaged adults.

Kevin Zimmer
Atascadero, CA

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