north coast

Kevin Zimmer

Back from an absolutely gorgeous morning on the north coast (mostly spent photographing shorebirds). No sign of the Harlequin Duck around the Cayucos pier or on the rocks to the northwest of the creek mouth. Also, no sign of the Caracara at his usual haunts, although I confess to not having spent a lot of time looking.

The beach at the mouth of Old Creek (Cayucos) had an impressive concentration of 68 Semipalmated Plovers, along with the usual Whimbrels, Marbled Godwits, Long-billed Curlews and Sanderlings.

The rocks northwest of the Cayucos Creek mouth had ca. 30 Black Turnstones, 10+ Surfbirds and a Wandering Tattler. There were another 20+ Black Turnstones, 8 Surfbirds and 1 Ruddy Turnstone in the rocky cove below the north end of Ocean Drive (Cayucos).

20+ Violet-green Swallows circling high above the elephant seal viewing area (parking lot) were the first ones I've seen this spring, and at least half that many White-throated Swifts were in with them. Also interesting to watch a Glaucous-winged Gull and 4 Turkey Vultures fighting over an elephant seal carcass.

Kevin Zimmer

Possible Adult Glaucous Gull at Morro Creek Mouth

Dennis & Becca Serdehely <birders@...>

Today my wife Becca and I saw what appeared to be either an adult Glaucous
Gull or a Glaucous x Glaucous-winged hybrid. The reason I am thinking it is
a hybrid is that the mantle liked a little too dark for a pure Glaucous and
at certain angles it looked as though the primaries had a slight gray cast
to them. Otherwise the bird was good for an adult Glaucous Gull. It was
slightly larger than the Western Gulls present and had what appeared at
first to be all white primaries. It had a yellow eye, a yellow bill and pink
legs and a light gray mantle. While observing this bird we met Kaaren Perry
who was able to photograph it. I believe she will post it to the list serve.
I would be interested in what others think of this bird.

Dennis Serdehely

Fernley, NV

Paso Robles Phainopeplas

David Lawrence


I was able to visit Larry Moore Park after a Paso Robles errand to try to photograph Phainopeplas seen and posted on 3/4, thank you Ms. Ambrose. They are drawn, as was posted, by an ancient and doddering cottonwood tree, whose major biomass currently seems to be confluent thickets of mistletoe. The tree seems more defunct than it really is, as most of it not overwhelmed with mistletoe is in bud, and about to renew considerably.

But, Phainopeplas.... The pair is feeding on the mistletoe berries and remains in constant communication with frequent "wulps." Indeed, I heard before I saw them, their sound awakening deep auditory memory from growing up in the Arizona desert many years ago. Harassing them are 1, sometimes 2 Northern Mockingbirds who find the tree too good to share and too big to defend. Between tussles, somebody calls "king's X" and they all gulp down berries. Then, a flurry of black, gray, and white and a reshuffling to other branches. There was plenty to watch.

This species has been a nemesis bird for me to photograph in SLO, especially frustrating given its AZ ubiquity.

A few photos are posted on Flickr:

Dave Lawrence
Arroyo Grande

south county birds

Kevin Zimmer

I spent the morning in south county, and was nearly blown away by the winds (especially at Oso Flaco).

The "Tres Amigos" (Cackling Goose, Snow Goose & Greater White-fronted Goose) continue at Oceano Campground, but no sign of the Ross's Goose at the lagoon across the street.

Tons of Yellow-rumped Warblers in the willows, most with messy faces from feeding in willow catkins. There was a singing male Wilson's Warbler there, and 2 Northern Rough-winged Swallows.

Oso Flaco was pretty unproductive (it was hard to even stand up on the boardwalk given the winds), but there was a single Northern Rough-winged Swallow in with 15+ Tree Swallows.

Kevin Zimmer

Adult Glaucous Gull - Morro Creek 3/6

Kaaren Perry

An adult Glaucous Gull was present at Morro Creek mouth today at 10:30. When I arrived 2 birders from Nevada had been watching the bird, calling my attention to the all white wingtips. We were able to put it in a scope and get a few photos before it flew off.

Today my yard has been visited by at least 40 Cedar Waxwings and 50+ American Robins . Good numbers for my yard. They are feeding heavily on ivy berries.

Link for Glaucous Gull:

Kaaren Perry
Morro Bay

Great-tailed Grackle

lisawaniuk <lisawaniuk@...>

I spotted a Great-tailed Grackle in the Costco parking lot yesterday, 3/5/12. Today I have 4 Band-tailed Pigeons in my "backyard" braving the wind; more competition over seed for the many finches, goldfinches, Mannikins, sparrows, etc. that feed here daily.

Lisa Waniuk
San Luis Obispo

Re: Cedar Waxwings?

Teddy Llovet <bluheron@...>

Me too, Jim
They're nomadic so they might be gone soon

On Mar 6, 2012, at 9:46 AM, sharonsheri wrote:

Where is the neighborhood where you saw 72 of them? I'd love to see them.


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

Cedar Waxwings?


Where is the neighborhood where you saw 72 of them? I'd love to see them.


Los Osos Migrants

Jim Royer

Yesterday, I had my first Wilson's Warbler (singing) of the year - near
Cuesta Inlet and the first Tree Swallow. Today, I had a singing Purple
Finch in Pecho Willows, a first for the year in the neighborhood. I also
had a flock of 72 Cedar Waxwings today - a large flock for this

Jim Royer
Los Osos

Re: What is this woodpecker? A video

Michelle LaMoustique

I believe it's a female Nuttall's Woodpecker.

--- In, "GardenGuru" <thegardenguru@...> wrote:

Taped in Nipomo.

Forgive me if this YouTube video actually directly plays and takes up your bandwidth. It should simply be a hypertext link. Technology!


What is this woodpecker? A video

GardenGuru <thegardenguru@...>

Taped in Nipomo.

Forgive me if this YouTube video actually directly plays and takes up your bandwidth. It should simply be a hypertext link. Technology!


Harlequin duck update; Anatomy of a bird photo

David L. Keeling

Hi all,

I confirm Tom Edell's post that the Cayucos HARLEQUIN DUCK was present on Friday. I'll add that I did not see it from the pier, but saw it on the rocks to the northwest of Cayucos Creek mouth. See below.

I have posted some new photos on my Flickr site, such that I am now caught up. They include a set from the Morro Bay State Park Marina, where I enjoyed some colorful reflections of bufflehead, common and red-throated loons. And at Cloisters Pond, the sora. And some mountain bluebirds, horned larks, and burrowing owl from the Carrizo Plains. And lastly, the harlequin duck. Enjoy them with a cup of coffee!!

Recent electronic conversations with David Wolfson, and Stephanie Little have had me thinking about "How did you get those photos?" So, excuse the long-windedness, but here is the anatomy of a harlequin duck photo:

8:30 AM Decide to go birding in Cayucos, despite other work to do.
8:45-9:50 Slow going. Black turnstones and surfbirds help pass the time.
9:50-10:02 See harlequin duck, a gray bird sitting on gray rock. Harlequin duck sees me at the same time and leaves perch. Relocate duck (photos = 0).
10:02-10:37 Watch duck from a rock. Distance is too great, light is horrible, nearly directly into the sun. Photos are documentation only, with black oystercatcher, black turnstone, and western gull wandering by to say hello. Adjust camera to underexpose so whites are not blown out. Hoping for duck to decide to swim to a better location. Duck preens and naps. My butt is getting numb and I’m getting really cold from the wind despite a pretty heavy jacket. (photos 0-60).
10:37-11:20 Decide on trying to walk a really big C to get on the good-light side of the bird. This involves cold shallow seawater and wet slippery rocks. There is no “5 second rule” for cameras and salt water. A completely foolhardy attempt, in that the bird has already moved once because of me, and the entire trip will be in the open. No way will this be tolerated. Stop regularly to take new last pictures. Did I say cold wet feet? Waves and froth change the light impossibly. Switch to fully manual mode. (photos 61-165)
11:20-11:30 Good light. Bird is remarkably still there. Unfortunately, it sits just below the crown of its rock, fine for the bad light side, but now I can see only its head and part of its back. Must approach directly, slowly. If good fortune holds, will need centerpost of tripod fully extended. Inch forward. (photos 166-350)
11:30-11:38 Amazing. I’m close enough to lower the centerpost almost all the way. Between me and my duck is one western gull, RIGHT in the way. I wait. It waddles stage right. I shoot. At this distance, approx 20-25 feet, ANY decent camera would do. (photos 351-376, 376 on Flickr)
11:38 As I’m pondering backing away, the western gull turns and walks right up to the duck. Both the harlequin duck and I are impressed with its size, and the duck decides it’s time to arise, waddle forward, hop in the water and swim off. (photos 376-390, 378 and 384 on Flickr).

Summary of important contributing factors:
1. Decision to go birding; 2. Some luck in finding bird; 3. Patience and working hard to make my good luck better; 4. Knowledge of and utilization of good equipment.

Happy birding,

Dave Keeling
Morro Bay

Warbling video and glaucous gull

Maggie Smith

At cerro alto, Doug stinson and I saw warbling vireo. At the mouth of morrow creek, we had a first year glaucos gull. Maggie smlth
Sent from my verizon Wireless Phone

American Robins

Calvin French <cal.french@...>

Twenty of them here this morning in western Adelaida, North County. Most
unusual for this location.

Carrizo Eastern Poebe, etc

Matt Brady

Hello all. I just returned from several days of LeConte's Thrasher surveys on the Carrizo Plain for PRBO. I'm happy to report that the EASTERN PHOEBE first found last March has returned to the Plain, and apparently again successfully over-wintered. It was the first Plain record last year. Also of note were decent numbers of LECONTE'S THRASHERS many dozens of SAGE THRASHERS (75+ or so seen by me alone), both mostly off Elkhorn Road; two LeConte's nests were found. Several LONG-EARED OWLS were seen and heard displaying at dusk on private property in California Valley. 125 MOUNTAIN PLOVERS were seen along Soda Lake Road, a couple of miles south of the junction with Panorama. Other than these highlights, all of the usual Carrizo goodies were seen, despite the very, very dry conditions.

Other observers included Jim Tietz, Ryan DiGaudio, Mark Dettling, Megan Elrod and Meagan Oldfather.

Thanks and good birding,

Matt Brady
Potter Valley CA


Mary Ann Ambrose <ambrose.m@...>

Larry Moore Park in Paso Robles: in the ancient and falling apart cottonwood
that is full of mistletoe just to the north of the playground area and off the
river trail there was a pair of phainopeplas this morning. Western bluebirds,
titmice and very active California thrashers were also seen. Killdeer flying
over. White-throated swifts appear to be "back" at Niblick Bridge. even flushed
a few California quail near the bridge in teh denser brush near the bridge.

Had one golden crowned sparrow in our yard. Had 12 anna's hummingbirds at dusk
last evening all feeding peacefully:)

Mary Ann Ambrose
Paso Robles

Lark Bunting -Bitterwater Rd., and a few other birds of interest.

Kaaren Perry

Maggie Smith and I headed out to Bitterwater Rd. this morning with the hope of my finding the previously reported Lark Bunting. As this was my 5th attempt, it was a thrill and relief to finally see this early spring male bird in SLO county. It was with a small flock of Lark Sparrows and a few Horned Larks mostly feeding near the south fence line. It was in the same location as previously reported, 11 miles north of HWY 58 on Bitterwater Rd.

Other birds of some interest along Bitterwater Rd. were 2 Cassin's Kingbirds and 1 Ferruginous Hawk.

On Soda Lake Road we had one immature Bald Eagle flush up from the side of the road, carrying away what looked like a live squirrel. A little farther on we had what appeared to be an intermediate (rufous) morph Ferruginous Hawk. We were lucky to see the hawk sitting in the field not far off the road and to get good looks at this interesting plumage.

2 more Ferruginous Hawks were seen off 7 Mile Rd. and 3-4 Sage Thrashers were see on Elkhorn and Panorama.

Photo link for the intermediate morph Ferruginous Hawk:

Kaaren Perry
Morro Bay

Great Horned Owls

Michelle LaMoustique

A pair of great horned owls seem to have taken up residence in the eucalyptus trees behind my home in Nipomo. I haven't seen them, but they have been calling back and forth for the last several nights, and are right now being quite noisy. I checked their call against the one recorded by the Cornell Lab to verify my ID.

Michelle Maani
Nipomo, California

Harlequin Duck At Cayucos

Tom Edell

The immature male HARLEQUIN DUCK continued at the Cayucos Pier where is was
feeding in the surf off the mouth of Cayucos Creek this afternoon just
before sunset.

A first-cycle THAYER'S GULL was at Laguna Lake around 11 AM this morning.

Tom Edell

Cayucos, CA

Halter Ranch

Roger Zachary

Hello All,

The Morro Coast Audubon birding trip out to Halter Ranch was lots of fun with 45 species observed. Some notable birds to mention included Ring-necked Ducks, Cinnamon Teals, a Red-breasted Sapsucker, Purple Finches, Yellow-billed Magpies, Violet-green Swallows, and Golden Eagle. Thanks to the folks at Halter Ranch (especially Mitch) for hosting the birding trip.....fine wine and good birding.

Roger Zachary

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