Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Eureka! Birds of San Luis Obispo County - September 2013

BLUE-FOOTED BOOBIES appeared along the coast of California in Sep from San Diego to Humboldt County and inland in Imperial and Riverside counties; reportedly one made it to Vancouver, Canada! The first SLO County bird was found off Spooners Cove in Montana de Oro State Park on 14 Sep (KLP) with another or the same bird seen on the South Jetty at the Morro Bay Harbor mouth later that day (SS) and through 19 Sep. Individuals were also seen at Port San Luis, Margo Dodd Park in Pismo Beach, near Point Piedras Blancas 18-26 Sep (2), and on “Bird Rock” off the Shell Beach Palisades area 21 Sep-4 Oct (2). A minimum of five birds were involved and all appeared to be sub-adults. The only previous county record involved eight birds at Avila 21-22 Aug 1972. According to eBird 238 species were recorded in SLO County in August and a total of 326 species have been recorded in 2013. Abbreviations: CPNM = Carrizo Plain National Monument; MDOSP = Montana de Oro State Park; OFL = Oso Flaco Lake; PSBOC = Pismo State Beach Oceano Campground; WRR = Whale Rock Reservoir.

WATERFOWL THRU SHOREBIRDS: The male GREATER SCAUP remained all month at WRR (mob) and a transient male showed up at OFL on 21 Sep (MLS). Another continuing duck was the male HARLEQUIN DUCK at Estero Bluffs State Park through 22 Sep (KLP). A juvenile HOODED MERGANSER seen at the lower San Luis Obispo Creek dam on 1 Sep (TM) was exceptionally early. A lone CATTLE EGRET flew over PSBOC near dawn on 30 Sep (TM). The number of WHITE-FACED IBIS encountered was unusually low with one report of three birds at OFL on 28 Sep (TS). Regular in small numbers each fall, a BLACK-NECKED STILT was feeding along Morro Strand State Beach 10 Sep (RHZ) and could be the same one at WRR 11-16 Sep (KLP). The third SOLITARY SANDPIPER reported this fall was at OFL on 9 Sep (MLS) and between 3-5 LESSER YELLOWGS were there 2-9 Sep (MLS). Of the seven juvenile BAIRD’S SANDPIPERS reported, two at the Atascadero Wastewater Ponds on 10 Sep (MLS) were the only found inland. PECTORAL SANDPIPERS were much more numerous this year with 17 recorded between 11-30 Sep (mob).

SKUA THRU SWALLOW: A highlight from the 15 Sep Morro Coast Audubon boat trip was a SOUTH POLAR SKUA (BKS). Eleven federally endangered MARBLED MURRELETS recorded from 12-14 Sep included nine seen just north of Arroyo del Corral (RHZ). The WHITE-WINGED DOVE first reported last month continued at the north end of Cayucos through 2 Sep (TME). The first TROPICAL KINGBIRD of the fall was seen at PSBOC and across the street at Oceano County Park 28-30 Sep (TM). A BELL’S VIREO discovered in the coastal scrub along the bay near Pecho Road on 29 Sep (KLP) could not be assigned to subspecies, though it was clearly not an eastern bird due to the pale yellow underparts. A BLUE-HEADED VIREO was observed at PSBOC on 18 Sep (DGS); if accepted by the California Rare Bird Committee it will add to a handful of other county records. Rarer in fall than spring, a single BANK SWALLOW was at OFL on 13 Sep (CAM).

WARBLERS: Nineteen warbler species recorded in September included nine considered vagrants to SLO County. Somewhat scarce in recent years, at least three NORTHERN WATERTHRUSHES were reported along the coast between 14-30 Sep (TM, JC &PS, DK). Two immature females and an at least one immature male BLACKAND- WHITE WARBLER were discovered along the south coast 3-28 Sep (BKS,TME,KLP). A total of five coastal TENNESSEE WARBLERS 8-29 Sep was above average and included an adult male at PSBOC(DS,TM,BS,MLS). A single VIRGINIA’S WARBLER was at the Islay Creek

Campground, MDOSP 14-15 Sep (JSR). Three AMERICAN REDSTART 8-28 Sep were about average for the month (DS,TM,MLS). A singl BLACK-BURNIAN WARBLER was at PSBOC on 29 Sep-4 Oct (TM). Two females and a male CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER were along the coast 13-30 Sep (JC,BAB). Often the most common fall eastern warbler, only one BLACKPOLL WARBLER was recorded at PSBOC on 29 Sep (TM). Rounding out the group was an immature male PRAIRIE WARBLER at the Cuesta Inlet in Los Osos on 22 Sep (JSR).

SPARROWS THRU ORIOLES: A pulse of Spizella sparrows moved though the county in late September. CHIPPING SPARROWS were reported from the CPNM and in Los Osos 19-27 Sep (PAG,KS,JSR). CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS were equally widespread with the first on the CPNM on 19 Sep (PAG) and four more along the coast 21-29 Sep (JSR,NA,TM). Also part of this group were two BREWER’S SPARROWS found along the coast at OFL and Los Osos 27-28 Sep (TS,TME). Somewhat casual along the coast a VESPER SPARROW was found at Estero Bluffs State Park on 23 Sep (RHZ). There are few migrant GRASSHOPPER SPARROW records, so one in weedy vegetation at a small pond along Hwy 33 on 19 Sep (PAG) is worth noting. One of the most interesting finds was a NELSON’S SPARROW discovered at OFL on 29 Sep (TMa), the first recorded at that location and the county’s first Sep record. A male SUMMER TANAGER remained at PSBOC 2-17 Sep (MLS) and was seen by many birders during its stay. Two female plumaged ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS were recorded, one at Morro Bay State Park on 8 Sep (TM) and another inland along Hi Mountain Road near the Arroyo Grande fire station on 12 Sep (TM). A single juvenile/female YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD was mixed with a blackbird flock at Oceano County Park on 20 Sep (TME). Two rare fall orioles at PSBOC were a likely juvenile female ORCHARD ORIOLE on 11 Sep (MLS) and a juvenile male BALTIMORE ORIOLE on 30 Sep (TME).

OBSERVERS: Thanks to everyone who reports their sightings, primarily via the yahoo “slocobirding” listserv and eBird, including those cited above: Nick Armstrong, Bill A. Bouton, Joyce Cory, Jack Clayton, Tom M. Edell, Peter A. Gaede, Dave Keeling, Will Knowlton, Tom Maloney(TMa), Curtis A. Marantz, Tristan McKee, Kaaren L. Perry, Jim S. Royer, Petra Schaaf, Brad K. Schram, Kathy Sharum, Tom Slater, Maggie L. Smith, Bob Steele, Susan Steele, David Suddjian, and many observers (mob). For seasonal status information about birds mentioned in this report, consult the Morro Coast Audubon publication “The Birds of San Luis Obispo County, California” or contact Tom Edell at (805) 995-1691 or tedell@aol.com….Tom Edell