SLOCo Birds for January 00

Tom Edell

Below is a draft of my Eureka column for the Morro Coast Audubon Society
Flyway newsletter for the month of January 2000. I would appreciate any
comments, additions, or corrections. Thanks.


Tom Edell
Cayucos, CA

January was a fairly quiet month in SLOCo until the advent of the Morro Bay
Winter Bird Festival. This year the festival's all day boat trip on 1/15
produced the most exciting birds of the weekend. The boat headed for the
Santa Lucia Bank, which is approximately 26 to 27 miles WSW of Point Buchon.
Within minutes of arriving at the bank, a juvenile SHORT-TAILED ALBATROSS
(second record for Southern California in the last 100 years), adult LAYSAN
ALBATROSS, and adult BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS had flown over or around the boat
giving all aboard excellent looks. Other highlights of the trip were a
WHALE topped off the day.

Cattle Egret -- Up to six near the Cal Poly Dairy Unit on 1/14 were the only
reported (TE).

Greater White-fronted Goose -- Up to two were present at Laguna Lake through
1/16+ (JC).

Snow Geese -- A group of two adults and two first winter birds were seen
around the Morro Bay Estuary from 1/8-30+ (JRo). A flock of 19 were feeding
in a field south of San Simeon Acres and West of Hwy 1 on 1/11 (GS) with
three there on 1/17 (TE). An adult was at Oceano County Park on 1/16 (CM).
Eight were in a field north of the Hearst Castle entrance off Hwy 1 on 1/17
(TE). Three were in a field along Oso Flaco Lake on 1/17 (JC).

Ross's Goose -- Unprecedented numbers continued to be seen in January. One
spending its time on the Morro Bay golf course fairway adjacent to the State
Park campground, later spent time trailing Camp Keep students near the State
Park Marina 1/9-25+ (JRo). Two wintering at Laguna Lake were reported from
1/11-16 (mob) and are probably still present. Three were in a field along Oso
Flaco Lake on 1/17 (JC). Eleven were in a field south of San Simeon Acres
and West of Hwy 1 on 1/28 (TE)

Brant -- The Morro Bay population rose to 3400 birds on 1/13 (JRo).
Canada Goose -- A small raced bird was seen at Oceano County Park on 1/16
(CM). Twenty-three were in a field north of the Hearst Castle entrance off
Hwy 1 on 1/17 (TE).

Eurasian Wigeon -- A high count of eight males were recorded on Morro Bay
during the month (KG,mob).

Black Scoter -- Two flew-by offshore of the bluffs north of Cayucos on 1/12
(BS). Two more were seen in Avila on 1/13 (BS).

Hooded Merganser -- Four, two males and two females, were present on Whale
Rock Reservoir on 1/14 (TE).

Bald Eagle -- An adult was seen off and on at Atascadero Lake between 1/13-27

Ruff -- One found in the mudflat off Sweet Springs Nature Preserve on 1/13
(BB), may well be the same bird found there in October.

Glaucous Gull -- A first winter bird was seen at the north tip of the Morro
Bay Sandspit on 1/9 (JR).

Black Skimmer -- Two were present on Morro Bay through the month (mob).

Burrowing Owl -- A rain drenched bird was seen along the bluff at the
elephant seal parking area on 1/16-17 (TE).

Vaux's Swift -- Rare in winter, a dozen were seen flying over the Elfin
Forest on 1/30 (MS).

Rufous Hummingbird -- Early date, a young male was at a backyard feeder in
Arroyo Grande on 1/20 (BS).

Williamson's Sapsucker -- A female seen on 1/2-6 at the Saucito Ranch house
on the Carrizo Plain gave SLOCO its first County record (GB, TE,GS).

Pacific-slope Flycatcher -- One found near the feed bins at Cal Poly in
December, was refound on 1/11 (MS).

Cassin's Kingbird -- One found on the Cal Poly Campus in November was still
present on 1/4 (MS). Another was found in Arroyo Grande on 1/4 (BS).

Barn Swallow -- Rare in winter, one was seen at Oso Flaco Lake on 1/17 (JC).

Magnolia Warbler -- One present at the Oceano Campground lagoon since October
was still present as of 1/16 (CM).

Hermit Warbler -- One was seen in the Monterey pine forest in Cambria on 1/27

Black-throated Gray Warbler -- Two were found at Oso Flaco Lake on 1/17 (JC).

Black-and-white Warbler -- The bird wintering at the Oceano Campground lagoon
was reported between 1/7-16 (JC,JS,CM).

Wilson's Warbler -- two were found at Oso Flaco Lake on 1/17 (JC).

Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow -- The bird found on the Morro Bay State Park
marina spit in November, was refound during the high tides on 1/21-22 (TC,KC).

White-throated Sparrow -- The bird wintering at Cal Poly was seen again on
1/4 (MS).

OBSERVERS: Bill Bouton, George Butterworth, Ted Chandick, Jamie Chavez,
Karen Clarke, Tom Edell, Kimball Garrett, Marlin Harms, Curtis Marantz, John
Roser (JRo), Jim Royer, Brad Schram, Joe Seals, Greg Smith, Mike Stiles, and
mob = many observers. For information about birds or locations mentioned in
this report, contact Tom Edell at (805) 995-1691 or

Tom Edell