Date   

Re: Thrush song

Kaaren Perry
 

Hi Mike and group,

FYI: I heard a singing Hermit Thrush at Cerro Alto on March 14, 2012.

Kaaren Perry
Morro Bay


Thrush song

Mike Stiles
 

Late yesterday afternoon, the 22nd, I heard a singing thrush in Coon Creek at Montana de Oro. It was interesting because it's too early for Swainson's Thrush, so I assume it was a Hermit Thrush singing before he leaves for the breeding grounds. I can't recall ever hearing that in this county.

Mike Stiles
Los Osos


Hermit Warbler

Maggie Smith
 

This morning I birded Biddle Park and was surprised to see a very dull  HERMIT WARBLER at the very back edge of the park in the Bobcat site.  It had extensive olive on the auricular patches and no streaking on the breast.  I know it's too early for a Spring migrant by a few weeks so assume it's an overwintering bird.  

Last week 3 /13 I had a  singing male BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK  off Lopez Drive.  This according to Tom Edell was 8 days earlier then the early record.  Since I don't bird  this  area except just before/during Spring migration, I think this bird too may have overwintered there or somewhere nearby.  Staying closer to home has its advantages.

At Mabel French Boy Scout Camp, there was a male and female WOOD DUCK in the flooded back portion of the Wittenberg Arm.
 
Maggie Smith
Arroyo Grande
http://www.flickr.com/photos/slomaggie


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


Yellow-breasted Chat at Pecho Road

Kevin Zimmer
 

After more than 45 minutes of searching, I found the Yellow-breasted Chat today at the same spot where it was previously reported by Jim Royer. It did not appear to be associated with any cohesive mixed-species (chickadees, kinglets, warblers etc) flock. In fact, I did not encounter any such flocks in the hour or so that I was there, although the flowering eucalyptus trees were pretty active with Yellow-rumped Warblers the entire time. The chat just materialized in a flowering eucalyptus directly west of the intersection of Pecho and Grove at 0926 h, and sat, semi-concealed and almost in a trance-like stupor for maybe 3 minutes before it disappeared as suddenly as it showed up. I did not hear it vocalize. I got a few photos, all of which document the bird, but none of which will find their way to the cover of any birding magazine!

Kevin Zimmer


Dancing Grebes

Steve Zamek
 

The Western and Clark's Grebea were putting on quite a show this morning at Lopez Lake. Lots of courtship behavior, including the running-on-water display and fish exchange.

A few photos from this morning's outing can be found here:
http://www.featherlightphoto.com/birds/e2e3df00

Steve Zamek
Palo Alto
www.featherlightphoto.com


Re: Chat

AlineandCurtis@...
 

Jim,

Just so you have the info, I have pasted below text about the wintering
chat, and another that you saw there about this time of the year in 2001. It
seems that this one site has a track record getting chats (It is also one
of few places that I have seen a coastal spring migrant in the county)...

Curtis


The only record of over-wintering involved a bird at Pecho Willows, 26
Jan-15 Feb 1984 (CAM); however, a bird found at this same location on 18 Mar
2001 (JSR) likely spent the winter in the area given that this would have
been an exceptionally early date for a spring arrival.

In a message dated 3/20/2012 12:13:13 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time,
jrmotmot@gmail.com writes:

The chat was still present today in a flowering eucalyptus along Pecho,
near the intersection with Grove. As can be seen below, the prevailing view is
that this is a wintering bird. I did not realize one had wintered here
before. Perhaps Curtis is right that it wintered somewhere nearby or that it
was overlooked at Pecho, and now that the eucs. are blooming it is more
conspicuous. Either way, if anyone wants to see it, I would recommend looking
between 7:30 and 8:30 AM in the early morning sun, in the flowering euc. or
nearby with the loose flock.


Jim Royer
Los Osos
On Mar 19, 2012, at 6:56 PM, _AlineandCurtis@aol.com_
(mailto:AlineandCurtis@aol.com) wrote:





Hi All,

Well, given that a chat did winter there many years ago and, if I am not
mistaken, it was seen only twice all winter, I could see how one could be
missed over an extended period of time (though back then, this area was not
checked nearly as frequently as it is now). That said, another possibility
is that this bird has been present all winter, but it has either been
moving more widely around the area, or it spent its time somewhere that has not
been checked, and it only now appeared in the area that has more regular
coverage. This seems unlikely given that this habitat is probably the best
in that area. Then again, are the willows just beginning to leaf out now
(that area looks pretty sparse and winter-like in mid-winter, so it tends not
to hold many birds)? Also, quiet, wintering chats can be very difficult
to find. I personally, would avoid considering this one an early migrant,
but I suppose one never knows...

Regarding the "same bird" hypothesis, I would add that 14 October is not
all that late for a fall migrant (it ties the previous "normal," late
record, but it is overshadowed by one at the Audubon Overlook at 14 Nov 1992...

Curtis



In a message dated 3/19/2012 6:41:54 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time,
_lehman.paul1@verizon.net_ (mailto:lehman.paul1@verizon.net) writes:

Jim:

I see that you expect me to have great pearls of wisdom on your Y-b Chat
in mid- March. I don't! Don't really know what to think. If the site
could hide a chat all winter then I'd vote for it being a wintering bird
that wasn't discovered until now. But if you are convinced that you (and
others) checked it so often the past few months that it could not have
escaped detection so long, then...... The earliest arrival date for
Santa Barbara Co. is still 14 April--almost 4 weeks from now! Having an
early migrant turn up a few days earlier than that--or even a week--OK!
But 4 weeks?? The absolute earliest arrival for San Diego County--which
should be fairly well ahead of SLO Co. for such arrivals--is 26 March,
though typical arrival dates even down here are during the second week
of April.

A tough one.

Paul


Harlequin Duck, Avila Beach

macro2953 <jcarroll@...>
 

An adult male HARLEQUIN DUCK was seen in Avila Beach mid-morning near the base of the Cal Poly Pier. It was alternately standing on top of, or swimming around, a small kelp bed about 100 meters offshore in the company of a few surf scoters.

Jay Carroll
Los Osos


Chat

Jim Royer
 

The chat was still present today in a flowering eucalyptus along Pecho, near the intersection with Grove. As can be seen below, the prevailing view is that this is a wintering bird. I did not realize one had wintered here before. Perhaps Curtis is right that it wintered somewhere nearby or that it was overlooked at Pecho, and now that the eucs. are blooming it is more conspicuous. Either way, if anyone wants to see it, I would recommend looking between 7:30 and 8:30 AM in the early morning sun, in the flowering euc. or nearby with the loose flock.

Jim Royer
Los Osos

On Mar 19, 2012, at 6:56 PM, AlineandCurtis@aol.com wrote:

Hi All,

Well, given that a chat did winter there many years ago and, if I am not mistaken, it was seen only twice all winter, I could see how one could be missed over an extended period of time (though back then, this area was not checked nearly as frequently as it is now). That said, another possibility is that this bird has been present all winter, but it has either been moving more widely around the area, or it spent its time somewhere that has not been checked, and it only now appeared in the area that has more regular coverage. This seems unlikely given that this habitat is probably the best in that area. Then again, are the willows just beginning to leaf out now (that area looks pretty sparse and winter-like in mid-winter, so it tends not to hold many birds)? Also, quiet, wintering chats can be very difficult to find. I personally, would avoid considering this one an early migrant, but I suppose one never knows...

Regarding the "same bird" hypothesis, I would add that 14 October is not all that late for a fall migrant (it ties the previous "normal," late record, but it is overshadowed by one at the Audubon Overlook at 14 Nov 1992...

Curtis


In a message dated 3/19/2012 6:41:54 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, lehman.paul1@verizon.net writes:
Jim:

I see that you expect me to have great pearls of wisdom on your Y-b Chat
in mid- March. I don't! Don't really know what to think. If the site
could hide a chat all winter then I'd vote for it being a wintering bird
that wasn't discovered until now. But if you are convinced that you (and
others) checked it so often the past few months that it could not have
escaped detection so long, then...... The earliest arrival date for
Santa Barbara Co. is still 14 April--almost 4 weeks from now! Having an
early migrant turn up a few days earlier than that--or even a week--OK!
But 4 weeks?? The absolute earliest arrival for San Diego County--which
should be fairly well ahead of SLO Co. for such arrivals--is 26 March,
though typical arrival dates even down here are during the second week
of April.

A tough one.

Paul


Continuing Swamp Sparrow, Pecho Willows

macro2953 <jcarroll@...>
 

The wintering SWAMP SPRROW last reported by Jim Royer on 3/13 was seen again this evening 3/19 at the seed feeder in my yard at the corner of Pecho and Henrietta. I finally managed to snap a couple of documenting photos before it scooted back into the bushes. Despite the somewhat drab color in the photos, in good light the bird shows striking rufous wings, buffy flanks, and a reddish crown with a prominent median stripe.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jay_carroll/

Jay Carroll
Los Osos


Re: Los Osos Chat

Jim Royer
 

People have asked if the chat this morning might be the same one that was
at Pecho Willows area in the fall.

I doubt it, since I bird this location almost every morning, hit it hard
before the Christmas Count and on Count day, and numerous other people have
birded there to look for the wintering Swamp Sparrow and Pacific Wren (both
of which are secretive, but which I (and other birders) have seen multiple
times over the winter). The chat today was fairly conspicuous and easy to
refind as it was with a flock just above eye level in a eucalyptus.

I looked at Bill Bouton's great photos of the fall bird, but see
nothing distinctive about that photographed bird that I could look for if I
saw today's bird again. I saw the bird in the fall a couple of times also,
and photographed it (as did others), but have not seen a chat at the
location since the fall.

But, all that having been said, I cannot say for sure that the bird didn't
winter and just wasn't seen in the interim. It could even be the bird that
was there in the spring. Or the year before. Perhaps it has been a resident
there for years, but no one has seen this bird over the winter or during
breeding season at this regularly birded location.

I think it is highly unlikely that today's bird was anything other than a
migrant. If someone else has seen a chat at Pecho over the winter, please
let me know. Or, if you know anything distinctive about the fall '11 bird.
(This species seems to occur annually at Pecho Willows in the spring and/or
fall.)

Likely, there will be those who say that this is too early for a migrant
chat. Of course as long as people assume that chats seen on such an early
date are wintering birds, actual early migrants will never be recognized as
such. How many records of definite wintering Yellow-breasted Chats (seen
multiple times over the winter at a location) are there in California? How
many records are there of birds seen in March for a just a few days,
consistent with migration? (Maybe Curtis, or Paul Lehman, or some other
expert would know.)

Jim Royer
Los Osos

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Re: nature raw in tooth and claw at oceano yesterday

Bonnie Thompson
 

Coincidentally, as if to redress the raptor's wrong choice below, today at
12:30, at 4th Street and Paso Robles Avenue in Los Osos, I saw what
appeared to be a Cooper's Hawk take down a Eurasian Collared Dove. (I was
running, and the light wasn't good, but the hawk had the Cooper's dark
head, striped tail, and yellow feet.)

--Bonnie Thompson
Los Osos

On Sun, Mar 18, 2012 at 7:58 PM, njmann90 <njmann90@yahoo.com> wrote:

Yesterday, Friend Joe Chinander and I went looking for the Lesser
Black-backed Gull at Oceano. No luck BUT there was an immature
Red-shoulder feasting on a captured coot alongside the pond. Actually, it
had a good 30 minutes of uncompromised feeding until, yes, a guy with a dog
came by. The grackles were oppressive altho we shamelessly and joyfull fed
the one with only one foot.

This am awoke to cries of "Oh My God" (see Swamp people for orientation)
anyway an immature Cooper's with really worn rectrices was feasting on a
band tailed pigeon in my backyard near Cal Poly--10's of Eurasian Collared
doves and one of my beautiful bandtails goes down. Life is not fair.
NJM




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AG Swainson's Hawk Migrant

Brad Schram
 

While following a COOPER'S HAWK in its exaggerated moth-like display above Deer Canyon, Arroyo Grande, this morning I saw a distant shape far in the background that drew my attention. I quickly focused the 'scope on the distant bird and saw that it was a SWAINSON'S HAWK silhouette.

The hawk came in from the usual SSE direction spring migrants travel through this area, dropping altitude in a fixed-wing glide. On reaching the level of the south ridge of Deer Canyon opposite me--about 700 feet in altitude--it circled upward quickly on an updraft, probably rising 500 feet or more before altering course on fixed wings to the WNW as if on a line for the Cuesta Grade.

It stayed out of photography range, but was large enough with a 32 power eyepiece to see that it appeared--at the distance--to be an adult bird. The underwing coverts seemed pristine white, the breast band complete and well-defined, the throat white. At close range it's possible that subtleties could have shown a bird just short of pristine adult plumage.

In other news, at least one of the two wintering zaboria ssp. RED FOX SPARROWS remain in the garden this morning.

Brad Schram
Arroyo Grande


Re: Los Osos Chat

William Bouton <bbouton@...>
 

I wonder if this might be the same chat I photographed there on October 14, 2011 !

See:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/billbouton/6244609654/in/photostream/


Bill Bouton
San Luis Obispo, CA
bbouton@charter.net
http://www.flickriver.com/photos/billbouton/popular-interesting/

On Mar 19, 2012, at 7:56 AM, Jim Royer wrote:

An early Yellow-breasted Chat was with a mixed flock in a flowering
eucalyptus along Pecho Road, near the intersection with Grove, this morning.

Jim Royer
Los Osos
.


Los Osos Chat

Jim Royer
 

An early Yellow-breasted Chat was with a mixed flock in a flowering
eucalyptus along Pecho Road, near the intersection with Grove, this morning.

Jim Royer
Los Osos


nature raw in tooth and claw at oceano yesterday

njmann90 <njmann90@...>
 

Yesterday, Friend Joe Chinander and I went looking for the Lesser Black-backed Gull at Oceano. No luck BUT there was an immature Red-shoulder feasting on a captured coot alongside the pond. Actually, it had a good 30 minutes of uncompromised feeding until, yes, a guy with a dog came by. The grackles were oppressive altho we shamelessly and joyfull fed the one with only one foot.

This am awoke to cries of "Oh My God" (see Swamp people for orientation) anyway an immature Cooper's with really worn rectrices was feasting on a band tailed pigeon in my backyard near Cal Poly--10's of Eurasian Collared doves and one of my beautiful bandtails goes down. Life is not fair.
NJM


Lesser Black-backed Gull

Tom Edell
 

The bird was not seen this morning at the Oceano County Park. The Arroyo
Grande Creek and Pismo Creek mouths were also checked. One immature
THAYER'S GULL continued at the county park.



Tom Edell

Cayucos, CA


Lesser Black-backed Gull, Oceano

Tom Edell
 

Apparently the likely LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at the Oceano County Park
pond in San Luis Obispo County was not seen this afternoon. Opinions have
either endorsed the bird as, or feel it potentially is, a 4th year/adult
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL. The bird was with usual gull flock loafing on the
lawn and in the parking area. This is a dark mantled bird with a very pale
eye, fine head and nape streaks, long wings, a yellowish bill with an
orange-red orbital ring, and dull yellowish legs and feet. The bill has a
reddish spot partially masked by black that extends into the upper mandible.
An elongated white mirror is evident in the outer primary(s). I posted
three photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tedell/ . A first-cycle
THAYERS GULL was also present this morning along with all of the expected
gull species.



Seen on Twitchell Reservoir from Highway 166 this morning were a distant
IBIS, 14 COMMON MERGANSERS, 90 AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS, a PEREGRINE FALCON,
and 10 COMMON RAVENS (somewhat rare there). The reservoir level is really
low (this is really a retention basin) and most of the waterfowl are too
distant to identify with a scope in today's overcast conditions. A little
further east, I checked the Alamo Creek arm of the reservoir. An adult BALD
EAGLE is again nesting in a sycamore on the southern side of the highway and
the GREAT BLUE HERON rookery in another sycamore was active with 13 birds
present, six sitting or standing on a nest. The only way to safely view
these nesting birds is to park west of the Alamo Creek Bridge and walk east
along the highway shoulder while cars and trucks whizz by. Be careful if
you attempt to see the nests.



Tom Edell

Cayucos, CA


Lesser Black-backed Gull

Tom Edell
 

I photographed at bird at the Oceano County Park pond this morning that
appears to be a 4th year/adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. The bird was with
usual gull flock loafing on the lawn and in the parking area. This is a
dark mantled bird with a very pale eye, fine head and neck streaks, long
wings, an orange-red orbital ring, and dull yellowish legs and feet. The
bill has a reddish spot partially masked by black that extends into the
upper mandible.



Tom Edell

Cayucos, CA


Carrizo Monument birds

sharumkathy <ksharum@...>
 

I was able to spend a little time birding today and the clouds made for a beautiful day. There are still mountain bluebirds on the Monument; I saw a couple of flocks. I also saw a ferruginous hawk and two Northern harrier. I checked the usual mountain plover sites and was pleasantly presented with a show of about 100 birds along Panorama, not foraging on the ground as I usually find them but flying continuously in a flock all around me and overhead. I watched this display for nearly 15 minutes when they finally settled on the ground. Late in the afternoon there was a small flock of long-billed curlew in the center of the Plain.
I had our first confirmed Lawrence's goldfinch at the MU. I first saw a pair on March 1 at Washburn, had reports of them at other places on the Monument and now they are here. They are always a welcome sight.

Kathy Sharum
Carrizo Plain National Monument


Red Fox Sparrows

Brad Schram
 

I was surprised this morning by the appearance of two red FOX SPARROWS of apparent zaboria subspecies. "One" has been present in the garden through the winter, but I was occasionally puzzled that there seemed to be subtle differences in appearance at times, on close review. The two birds scratching in the leaf-litter near one another this morning seems to solve my previous speculations. Reviewing the morning's photos (through window glass) shows little difference in detail between the two birds.

Brad Schram
Arroyo Grande

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