Shell Beach 6-25

Brad Schram

Shell Beach this morning had a few interesting summering birds. A flock of
24 SURF SCOTERS offshore is rather large for a non-breeding flock in summer
here. A molting BRANT is present and will be undoubtedly all summer. BROWN
PELICAN and BRANDT'S CORMORANT numbers are growing rapidly in the usual
post-breeding dispersal. HEERMAN'S GULLS are likewise starting to increase
as they disburse from the Gulf of California breeding grounds.

One of the two fledgling PEREGRINES has an injured leg; it dangles when in
flight as if attached by a rubber band and it is unusable when landing and
perching. I e-mailed Brian Walton at the Santa Cruz Birds of Prey center to
see if they want to trap it for rehab or possibly an addition to the captive
breeding flock. As you know, Peregrines kill with their feet, often balling
up their feet and striking prey with clenched fist. A one-legged Peregrine
is doomed. This bird is still fed by its parents and is otherwise, as far
as one can see, in fine shape.


Rose-breasted grosbeak


The campground hosts at Spooner's Campground, Montana De Oro State Park
showed me a photo taked of a male rose-breasted grosbeak at their
hanging bird feeder, which was present from June 2-10. There was also
one at Camp Keep's feeder one year ago on May 30, 1999, which is a
distance of one mile from the, it is possibly the same
returing bird, but then again, maybe not!



Marlin Harms

In response to Jamie's comments about night-herons fishing in tidepools: I
have regularly seen one to several b-c night herons in rocky intertidal areas
while I was searching for invertebrates at Cayucos Point & in Montana de
Oro. I remember birds practicing night-heron zen (being statues) or doing
some stalking, and I have vague memories of some of those birds actively
fishing. Though I wish I could give better scientific data, I doubt that
night-herons were there for any purpose close to mine--sight-seeing.
Marlin Harms

Shell Beach Birds

Jamie M Chavez <jcwings@...>

Hello folks,

During the lunch hour today along the cliffs of Shell Beach I observed a
pair of Black-crowned Night-Herons feeding (actually fishing) in the
rocks among the tide pools. I can't recall ever seeing this before. Is
this a common feeding habit of Night-Herons? I could not make out what
they were after but since Night-Herons prefer feeding on fish I suppose
they were after small minnows washing into the pools with the surf. Not
much else of note but the Pigeon Guillemots were fun to watch. One Royal
Tern flew by heading south. The highlight was spotting (up to) four
Humpback Whales offshore which were clearly visible with binoculars.

Jamie Chavez
Santa Maria

New Pictures

Mike Stiles

I have placed some new pictures on my website if anyone is interested.
There is a pic of the American Redstart recently banded at Oso Flaco and
a couple of pictures of an Ovenbird on the Cal Poly campus in 1979.

I welcome all submissions of uncommon San Luis Obispo County birds.

Mike Stiles

Santa Maria River Mouth 6/20

Tom Edell

Greetings.....I birded the Santa Maria River mouth today around 1pm. The
lagoon is fairly full but does have exposed sandy mudflats in the southwest
portion. Birds of interest inluded 5 WESTERN SANDPIPERS (two in basic
plumage), 7 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS (all in alternate plumage, one with very
worn primaries), 2 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS (anyone checking to see if they are
nesting again?), and a WHITE-FACED IBIS. Lots of Snowy Plovers and at least
three Least Terns were also seen. Does anyone know if the shorebirds have
been there a while?.......Regards, Tom

Tom Edell
Cayucos, CA

Sunday at Oso Flaco and Upper Lopez


My family went on a father's day outing to Oso Flaco to do some hiking,
birding, and skimboarding. The Least Terns (at least 8) feeding on the lake
are getting very tame with several landing on the railing of the boardwalk
that goes across the lake - for great looks. Birds of some interest included
a female Lesser Scaup, a Whimbrel, and an odd gull which looked like a
sub-adult Herring Gull but the bill was wrong (hybrid Western and
Glaucous-winged?). The creek mouth at the beach looked like good habitat for
the fall shorebird migration (due in 2-3 weeks for the adults).

In upper Lopez Canyon, several Cassin's Vireos were singing and a few
MacGillivray's Warblers were around. On the way back home we stopped to
check out the arm of Lopez Lake which parallels the road as you return to the
lake and a White-faced Ibis dropped into a cluster of snags. Another arm had
15 Great Egrets and about a dozen night herons. Is there a rookery nearby?

The road into, and in, Lopez Canyon had the following butterflies: Pale
Swallowtail, Western Tiger Swallowtail, Mustard White, California Ringlet,
Monarch, Variable Checkerspot, Satyr Comma (Anglewing), Red Admiral, West
Coast Lady, Common Buckeye, California Sister, Hairstreak species, Acmon
Blue, Western Tailed Blue, Spring Azure (Echo Blue), Fiery Sipper, Skipper
species, Northern White-Skipper, and Funereal Duskywing.


SLO Birds 6/17

Tom Edell

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. This morning I drove my
daughter to Cambria to play tennis. Since I was in the area I decided to hit
the Creek mouths again and scope off shore. I didn't find any returning
shorebirds but did have a couple of mildly interesting sightings. Scoping
from one of the coastal pullouts north of Pico Creek (post mile 55.6) I
counted 46 alternate plumage COMMON MURRE. While not unexpected in summer,
that number was more than I have found in recent years. Also seen there were
19 PACIFIC LOONS, two of which were in alternate plumage. Seems late for
migrants, but perhaps if Richard was still out at the lighthouse he'd be
picking up a few late stragglers.

At Villa Creek this evening, a single female WILSON'S PHALAROPE remained from
the eight seen there yesterday. That's it......Tom

Tom Edell
Cayucos, CA

Recent sightings

Tom Edell

Mike Stiles and I birded San Simeon Creek Road today in hopes of locating the
American Dipper Richard Rowlett found a few of weeks ago. We found the
bridge crossing Richard described (5.5 miles east of Hwy 1) and quickly
discovered that there is no access to the creek (its all fenced, private
property). Just below this bridge another arm of the creek joins the main
branch. We did notice that there were a lot of white dropings on the rocks
along the creek and we saw several 3-4 inch steelhead. Further up the road
(I think about 7 miles) we found three barbary sheep resting on the same
steep rocky outcroping Richard described. Slightly further along a bobcat
ran along the road in front of our vehicle.

On the drive north and on our return we looked for shorebirds at coast creek
mouths. Of mild interest at San Simeon Creek mouth was a basic plumaged
COMMON LOON. The most interesting birds of the morning were found at Villa
Creek. There we found 8 alternate plumaged WILSON'S PHALAROPES (males and
females) that I assume are southbound migrants. On the beach we had 6-8
SNOWY PLOVERS including three precocial young. I am sure we would have had
more adults and young had we walked to the southern end of the beach. Villa
Creek is a known nesting area that will hopefully get some protection from
State Parks recent agreement to manage the ocean terrace from Cayucos to
Villa Creek.

On Friday morning, June 16, I had twelve BLACK SKIMMERS "skimming" along
Morro Bay near Grassy Island and forty WHITE PELICANS rosting on the island.
Though a few typically summer on the bay, I have not seen that many in
mid-summer since the drought of the early 90's. Any guesses where they're
coming from? Also Friday morning, four basic plumage COMMON LOONS were off
the Cayucos Pier. John Roser reported that he had several Humpbacked Whales
off the Pier Thursday evening.

Tuesday morning, June 13, I saw an OSPREY fishing over Morro Bay.

One last note. Sue Black called yesterday to say she had a male BLUE
GROSBEAK in upper Poly Canyon last weekend.

Thats it for now.....Tom

Tom Edell
Cayucos, CA

San Simeon State Park

Karen Clarke <seachest@...>

San Simeon State Park-June 16:

I visited the park and San Simeon Ck today in order to see the juvenile
Common Mergansers. A tight little group of 6 swam around the eastern end of
the San Simeon Ck estuary. For a short while at the edge of the estuary,
forming a little knot, they slept, groomed either themselves or one of their
mates. I thought it a good photo op.

The Blue-winged Teal was nowhere to be me. Where the estuary
and creek meet I did see two Wilson's Phalaropes in alternate plumage. The
female was quite striking. The male quite dull.

On the beach in a small group of California and Western Gulls I observed an
adult Heermann's Gull and a Caspian Tern.

I still haven't seen a Belted Kingfisher.

Karen C.

BfAl, WiPh, BlSk & BNSt

Greg Smith

Today at Oceano Dunes OHV Park, a dead, immature Black-footed Albatross was
found on the beach. At Arroyo Grande Creek mouth there was a Black Skimmer,
a Black-necked Stilt and eleven Wilson's Phalaropes. Shorebird migration is
just around the corner...

See ya,
Greg Smith
Morro Bay

Dr. Luis Baptista


As some of you may have heard, Dr. Baptista passed away last Monday at his
home in Sebastopol, CA. There is a well written obit from the SF Chronicle,
dtd 6/14/00. Go to, and go into the obit archives - or

Ted Pope

(No subject)

Howard P York

Today, 6-16, a male, second year AMERICAN REDSTART was banded at the west
end of the Oso Flaco banding station.
Cheers, Howard York
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Re: [sbcobirding] Cliff Swallows

Guy Tingos <gtingos@...>

My office (Agricultural Commissioner's Office) receives dozens of swallow
calls each year. For people that do not want swallow nests on their
houses, physically excluding the birds is the best method, as Jamie
stated. The fine mesh netting that is used to protect fruit trees can be
affixed in problem aresa to keep the birds out. Of course, this must be
done before the birds arrive. We have no knowledge or reports of any damage
being caused by swallow nests.

According to Fish and Game guidelines, nests can be destroyed if they are
less than one-third completed. We generally instruct residents that if
it is starting to look like a nest, leave it alone. If it still looks
like a spot of mud on the wall, it can be removed. We do not encourage
people to do this, but it is legal.

A bigger problem than the droppings is the various ectoparasites
associated with swallows. Several species of mites and the swallow bug
leave nests looking for hosts after the birds leave. They will enter
homes and do bite humans, even though we are not hosts. Our
understanding is that knocking down nests after the birds have completly
abandonded them is legal.

Guy Tingos

Cliff Swallows

Jamie M Chavez <jcwings@...>


Question: Is there any truth to the rumor that Cliff Swallow nests cause
structural damage to the under eaves of houses? Either to stucco or
wood? One of the comments I hear from people who insist on "knocking
down" the mud nests, often after they are in use, is that they will
"cause damage the structure." Mud and clay can't be that harmful but I
am wondering about their saliva. It is probably a nuisance concern with
the mess below (droppings, etc.). Plastic and metal screening will
certainly deter them from building before they start but knocking them
down is no doubt illegal. I would love to dispel the myth. Just curious.

Jamie Chavez
Santa Maria

Blue-winged Teal at San Simeon State Park

Regena Orr <regenao@...>

Yesterday evening, there was a male BLUE-WINGED TEAL in San Simeon Creek near the Highway One bridge.
Regena M. Orr
Assistant Resource Ecologist
San Simeon District
California State Parks

Common Mergansers at San Simeon State Park

Regena Orr <regenao@...>

We have confirmed breeding of COMMON MERGANSERS at San Simeon State Park.  Six half grown young can be seen foraging in San Simeon Creek under the Highway One bridge.
Regena M. Orr
Assistant Resource Ecologist
San Simeon District
California State Parks

Black-necked Stilts at Pismo OHV Area

Regena Orr <regenao@...>

This morning there were three BLACK-NECKED STILTS foraging near the water/surf at post-marker 6 in the Pismo OHV Area.
Regena M. Orr
Assistant Resource Ecologist
San Simeon District
California State Parks

Montana de Oro

Joe Seals <gardenguru@...>


I will be visiting Montana de Oro, Corallina Cove
this Saturday and/or Sunday.

Is there anything of interest there right now?

Does anyone have a tide chart for that area and
could tell me when the lowest tide will be on those


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Joe Seals <gardenguru@...>


I've watched the nesting EUROPEAN STARLINGS in my
neighborhood for some weeks.

First, they seem to be in extra heavy
concentration this year.

Second, they have been dining on my garden snails
(Helix aspersa) -- and I assume others' garden snails
-- for some time, now to the point where my once
heavily infested garden is virtually free of snails.

Has anyone else observed this?

Joe Seals

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