Karen Clarke <seachest@...>
I accompanied Jim to the Monterey area today, Mar 21. I dropped him at Corral de Tierra golf course on Hwy 68 (hwy to Monterey/Carmel from Salinas). I continued on to the mouth of the Carmel River. I observed little activity here. Not even the usual flock of Canada Geese. I backtracked upriver to the place where Hwy crosses it. I turned right at the road that leads to the sewage treatment plant. (near the Cross Roads shopping center and the hwy to the Carmel Valley; South side of the river). Due to major replanting of the area adjacent to the river I could not get near the river. This is usually a good place to find interesting birds. On the north side of the bridge (Oliver St.) I found a parking spot next to the river (Carmel R. Motel adjacent to parking area). I found little activity. A Downy Woodpecker, chickadees, robin, kinglet. Oliver Street is not a through street, but I followed it to its end which turned out to be in the grounds of the Carmel R. Motel (scattered cabins).
Here I saw Yellow-rumps, a Townsend's Warbler, and what at first I thought was a Black Phoebe. It chased insects like a phoebe, but it wasn't black with a bright white belly. The head and back were dark gray, the primaries dark but a little warmer in color than the back and head. The head and bill were the same as a Black Phoebe in size and shape. The chin was very pale, almost white. The breast and belly were also pale, perhaps a very pale yellow. The sides of the breast looked smudged a pale olive color. This feature made me consider the Olive-sided Flycatcher. However, the olive areas were not as extensive as on the Olive-sided F. Also, the head and bill did not fit the size and shape of the Olive-sided F. I went over the flycatchers in my N.G. field guide. When I came to the Eastern Phoebe everything fit perfectly. The bird looked like the fresh fall bird in the book except that any yellow was now quite pale. Amazing!
I am going to email a Bill Hill to ask him if an Eastern Phoebe has been seen in the Carmel or Carmel River area.