Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Eureka! Birds of San Luis Obispo County - October 2013

Photo: Jim Royer
Two new species and one new subspecies were added to the county list in October! On 11 Oct, a bird believed to be a YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER was heard calling at the bottom of the horse trail at Islay Creek, MDOSP (CAM,JVR). The bird was confirmed and photographed the following day and seen and heard through 14 Oct (mob). Four days later on 18 Oct, a BLUEWINGED WARBLER was found at PSBOC (BAB). This bird was often difficult to locate as it fed on insects in dense dead leaves, but continued to be seen to 22 Oct (mob). The other first involved the Asiatic, or japonicas, race of AMERICAN PIPIT. One was gleaned from a pipit flock next to the Oso Flaco Lake parking area on 19 Oct (TME,MLS). This rare subspecies is more boldly marked and lacks the buffy tones found on the typical race that occurs in California. These birds plus Black Vulture and Gull-billed Tern make 2013 an exceptional year for SLO County birding. According to eBird 250 species were recorded in SLO County in October and a total of 338 species have been recorded in 2013. Abbreviations: CPNM = Carrizo Plain National Monument; MDOSP = Montana de Oro State Park; OFL = Oso Flaco Lake; PRW = Pecho Road Willows; PSBOC = Pismo State Beach Oceano Campground; WRR = Whale Rock Reservoir.

WATERFOWL THRU BOOBY: The earliest geese arrivals were three GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE at WRR on 2 Oct (JB), a CACKLING GOOSE at Santa Margarita Lake on 9 Oct (JVR) and an adult and juvenile SNOW GOOSE at the Cloisters Park in Morro Bay on 30 Oct (J&PC). A male EURASIAN WIGEON molting out of eclipse plumage seen off the western end of Sweet Springs Nature Preserve on 8 Oct (JLR) was likely the same bird seen during the Elfi n Forest Big Sit on 13 Oct. A fairly early CANVASBACK was at OFL on 16 Oct (MLS) and a male REDHEAD was at WRR 15-17 Oct (KLP). A RED-NECKED GREBE seen  from the Pismo Beach Pier 6-7 Oct (TM) provided the county’s earliest fall arrival date. The incursion of sub-adult BLUE-FOOTED BOOBIES continued, though the number of reports trailed off, with one continuing off Shell Beach on White Rock 4-10 Oct (mob), two a little north of Point San Luis at Pecho Rock on 15 Oct (JCC), and one on Arroyo de La Cruz Rock on 22 Oct (WK).

EGRET THRU MURRELET: A single CATTLE EGRET at OFL on 14 Oct (MLS) was the second reported this fall. The BLACK VULTURE reappeared at Morro Rock on 1 Oct (DT), then at Morro Bay State Park and the Pacifi c Wildlife Care facility 3-4 Oct (mob), and fi nally at Laguna Lake on 31 Oct (TME); hopefully it will stick around for the Christmas Bird Count on 14 Dec. A BLACK-NECKED STILT was in the Morro Bay marsh west of the South Bay Blvd Los Osos Creek Bridge on 9 Oct (JCC). The two AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS reported were above the fall average; one was found on Morro Bay near the end of Pecho Road, Los Osos 7-9 Oct (JSR) and another was on the beach at Arroyo Laguna 22-23 Oct (WK). The earliest MOUNTAIN PLOVERS in fall have a habit of showing up on sandy
beaches and on 17 Oct one was found roosting with Snowy Plovers at Oceano Dunes ORV Park (NF). The lone report for MARBLED MURRELET involved four seen from the old Piedras Blancas Motel on 11 Oct (CAM).

DOVE THRU PIPIT: The second WHITE-WINGED DOVE of the fall was seen flying over Islay Creek, MDOSP, on 12 Oct (TME). A tardy BLACK SWIFT seen over OFL on 10 Oct (CAM) provided the county’s first October record. Unrecorded in the county last winter, a male RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER found near the Traver Ranch, CPNM, on 6 Oct (PAG) accounted for our earliest fall arrival date. A female “yellow-shafted” NORTHERN FLICKER was at the PRW 26-29 Oct (TME). A TROPICAL KINGBIRD fi rst seen last month that moved between the Oceano Airport and PSBOC 1-21 Oct (mob) was calling with a second one at PSBOC on 4 Oct (TM), and a third was along the Morro Bay State Park Marina spit on 10 Oct (C&TW). A PLUMBEOUS VIREO (11th record) was found at Sweet Springs Nature Preserve on 4 Oct (SP) and a PHILADELPHIA VIREO (13th record) remained at PSBOC 2-5 Oct (KP). This was a good fall for YELLOW-GREEN VIREO with double-digit reports in California that included one at PSBOC 4-5 Oct (TME) that represented the 7th county record. A RED-THROATED PIPIT heard calling in the broccoli fi elds at the entrance to OFL on 20 Oct (MLS,DGS) was possibly the same one seen there on 3 Nov (MLS).

WARBLERS: An impressive mix and number of warblers at PSBOC boosted the county’s fall warbler total to 27 species, 16 of which are considered vagrants. Three NORTHERN WATERTHRUSHES continued at coastal locations from 1-10 Oct (mob). At least two BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLERS were at PSBOC 3-29 Oct (mob) and another was at the PRW on 10 Oct (JVR). A PROTHONOTARY WARBLER at PSBOC on 6-7 Oct (DML) was the highlight of the eight eastern warblers seen that weekend. A minimum of two TENNESSEE WARBLERS, one continuing from last month, were at PSBOC through 29 Oct (mob) and an apparent female HOODED WARBLER was briefly seen there on 20 Oct
(BAB). The only AMERICAN REDSTART during the period was a first year bird at PRW 26-27 Oct (DS). A female/immature NORTHERN PARULA was seen from the Coon Creek Bridge on 19 Oct (JSR). Other rarities at PSBOC included a MAGNOLIA WARBLER on 2 Oct (TM), a continuing BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER through 8 Oct (mob), and at least two CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLERS 5-24 Oct (mob) with another at OFL 7-8 Oct (MB) and one at Cuesta Inlet in Los Osos on 12 Oct (JSR). At least two BLACKPOLL WARBLERS were at PSBOC 5-22 Oct (mob) and two PALM WARBLERS were there with one present 3-10 Oct (AF) and the other 25-29 Oct (MLS), while another was at Shamel Park in Cambria 25-27 Oct (TME). Three PRAIRIE WARBLERS was exceptional, one at PSBOC 5-7 (RHZ) and again 23-26 Oct (MLS), and one along the Morro Bay peninsula on 18 Oct
(RHZ). Away from the coast, a CANADA WARBLER at the Carrisa Plain School on 6 Oct (WK) was a first for the Carrizo Plain and the county’s fi rst record away  from the immediate coast. An exceptionally late YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT at PRW on 27 Oct (WK) could be the same bird that wintered there last year.

TOWHEE THRU ORIOLE: A GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE found at Harmony Headlands State Park on 22 Oct (RM) was only the 18th to be found in the county. Six of the seven CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS recorded were along the coast 2-14 Oct (mob), but the other was found along Soda Lake Road on 13 Oct (TF) and appears to be the first record for the CPNM. A BREWER’S SPARROW continued at the north end of Pecho Road on 2 Oct (KP) and another was found along Hwy 33 in the Cuyama Valley on 18 Oct (PAG). Four NELSON’S SPARROWS was above average and included one continuing at OFL on 7 Oct (TS), two along the Morro Bay State Park Marina boardwalk 18-31 Oct (RHZ), and one photographed as it was being eaten by a Great Egret at Sweet Springs on 15 Oct (MDH)! Four SWAMP SPARROWS were along the coast 18-26 Oct (JSR,TME) and five WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS were scattered from the coast to Paso Robles 18-27 Oct (mob). A female SUMMER TANAGER was at PSBOC 19-23 Oct (JMC) as was a female ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK 5-8 Oct (MLS,DGS). Another highlight was a dull female PAINTED BUNTING found visiting a feeder next to the PRW on 19 Oct (CAM) for the 8th county record. A single adult male YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD that flew over PSBOC on 5 Oct (MLS) was a bit late and one of the few this fall. A fi rst-year BALTIMORE ORIOLE at the Islay Creek Campground in MDOSP on 11 Oct (CAM) was the second this fall.

OBSERVERS: Thanks to everyone that reports their sightings, primarily via the yahoo “slocobirding” listserv and eBird, including those cited above: John Bell, Bill A. Bouton, Michael Bowen, Jay C. Carroll, Jamie M. Chavez, Jack and Petra Clayton, Tom M. Edell, Tracy Farrington, Natalie Folsom, Alison Fox, Peter A. Gaede, Marlin D. Harms, Dave Keeling, Will Knowlton, Dave M. Lawrence, Curtis A. Marantz, Tristan McKee, Richard Mittleman, Kathy Parker, Kaaren L. Perry, Stephen Peterson, James Van Remsen, John L. Roser, Jim S. Royer, Brad K. Schram, Dennis Serdehely, Tom Slater, Maggie L. Smith, Douglas G. Stinson, Dean Thompson, Chris and Teri Wills, Roger H. Zachary 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