Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Eureka! The Birds of San Luis Obispo County - February 2014

As a guest compiler of this column, I wanted to share a fun and informative tool that eBird is providing for anyone to use. Go here: http://ebird.org/ebird/places Enter a county, state, province or country and see all the hot spots, recent sightings, county high records and more. It’s surprisingly intuitive to use. Let me know how you like it, Maggie Smith.

According to eBird, 240 species were recorded in SLO County thru February 2014. Abbreviations: ADLC = Arroyo de La Cruz; CPNM = Carrizo Plain National Monument; MBSP = Morro Bay State Park; PSBOC = Pismo State Beach Oceano Campground; SSNP = Sweet Springs Nature Preserve; WRR = Whale Rock Reservoir.

WATERFOWL THRU HERONS: A GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was at WRR on 21-23 Feb (TAB, KLP). The SNOW GEESE present at Laguna Lake and Oceano since last winter continued through the month (MLS, TME). A CACKLING GOOSE was on Atascadero Lake on 6 Feb (RHZ). A female WOOD DUCK was found at ADLC lagoon on 16 Feb (WK). Two female RING-NECKED DUCKS (rare in California Valley) were on the Tule Elk Lane Pond on 19 Feb (PAG). Two male HARLEQUIN DUCKS were reported; one that summered at Estero Bluffs State Park was reported thru 20 Feb (KIK, mob) and one in Avila Beach near the Cal Poly Pier was seen on 11 Feb (PAG) and on 17 Feb (CAM). The continuing immature male LONG-TAILED DUCK was oft reported in San Simeon Cove 1-27 Feb (mob). A leucistic RUDDY DUCK was at the River Oaks Golf Course in Paso Robles on 9 Feb (TME, RHZ). A GREEN HERON (a difficult species to find in winter) was at Cal Poly on Drumm Reservoir on 7 Feb (MDS).

VULTURES THRU GULLS: Our wayward BLACK VULTURE was sighted on eight different days 12-25 Feb at various Cal Poly sites in or near the Dairy Unit (BAB, mob). A subadult BALD EAGLE seen at Baywood Cove on 11 Feb (JSR) and flying over the Bayside CafĂ© (CF) was mostly likely the same bird that was at SSNP in January. Two adults were at a nest on Dover Cyn Road on 11 Feb (JH). Single adult BALD EAGLES were on Cholame Road on 15 Feb (BAB), WRR on 23 Feb (MLS, KLP, TAB) and at Santa Margarita Lake on 24 Feb (MLS, DGS). A dark morph FERRUGINOUS HAWK was on Shell Creek Road on 22 Feb (TAB). The female/immature ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK continued along Cholame Road 5-10 Feb (mob). Two ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS continued at CPNM near the intersection of Panorama and Soda Lake Roads (CAM). Rare again this winter in SLO County, four BONAPARTE’S GULLS were at Laguna Lake 23 FEB (TAB, KLP). A second-winter GLAUCOUS GULL at ADLC on 16 Feb may be the same bird seen previously at the Elephant Seal Rookery (WK).

DOVES THRU SWALLOWS: A WHITE-WINGED DOVE was seen on Vachell Lane in San Luis Obispo on 24 Feb (KW). A SHORT-EARED OWL was observed at MBSP Bautista Property on 18 Feb (MLS). Two GREATER ROADRUNNERS were spotted; one on Gillis Canyon Road on 16 Feb (DML) and the other on San Juan Road on 22 Feb (TAB). Our resident LEWIS’S WOODPECKERS remain along Dallons Drive in Paso Robles with a high count of three there on 16 Feb (DT); a continuing one in Santa Margarita was reported thru 27 Feb (HE, MLS, mob) another single bird was found on Hwy 41, 10 miles east of Atascadero on 17 Feb (KLL). The continuing male YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER was reported thru 27 Feb (mob). A TROPICAL KINGBIRD continued at Oceano County Park on 15 Feb (TME, MLS). CASSIN’S KINGBIRD is becoming more common in winter with 8 reports; the high count was 15 in the village of Arroyo Grande on 1 Feb (BKS, mob). Two NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS were at the River Road Bridge on Pozo Road on 27 Feb (HE, MLS).

THRUSHES THRU WARBLERS: The only VARIED THRUSH reported was along the trail just east of the maintenance yard at PSBOC on 10 Feb (WK, NF). Four SAGE THRASHERS were found on San Juan Road near Shell Creek road on 2 Feb (HE). These birds were reported several times thru 27 Feb
(mob) with a high count of 6 on 5 Feb (KLP, MLS). One was seen on Cholame Road on 9 Feb (TME, RHZ). Four were seen on Elkhorn Road, CPNM on 16 Feb (MD). The only report of LE CONTE’S THRASHER was fi ve on Elkhorn Road, CPNM on 16 Feb (MD). A male NORTHERN PARULA was found at PSBOC on 9 Feb (CDiB). One of the more interesting continuing birds reported is the YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT at Pecho Road Willows 1-23 FEB (mob). There are seven winter records for the county, all are from this location, and the most recent fi ve suggests the same bird wintered here in 2010 and 2012-2014.

SPARROWS THRU GOLDFINCHES: A VESPER SPARROW was seen along Shell Creek Road on 10 Feb (MLS, DGS). Five reports of WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS included one on Estero Ave in Morro Bay 15&22 Feb (KLP, TAB); one at the mouth of Willow Creek in Cayucos on 15 FEB (KLP); one at Heritage Ranch on 15 Feb (KIK) and last but not least one on San Luis Drive in San Luis Obispo on 27 Feb (EW). A DARK-EYED JUNCO (slate colored) was at Laguna Lake on 8 Feb (TME). Two LAWRENCE’S GOLDFINCH were at the MU Ranch, CPNM on 26 Feb (KS)

OBSERVERS: Thanks to everyone who reports their sightings, primarily via the yahoo “slocobirding” listserv and eBird, including those cited above: Tom A. Benson, Bill A. Bouton, Celine DiBernardo, Matthew Dodder, Tom M. Edell, Herb Elliott, Natalie Folsom, Claudia Freitas, Peter A. Gaede, Jim Hallisey, Kathleen I. Kent, Will Knowlton, Keith L. Landers, Dave M. Lawrence, Curtis A. Marantz, Kaaren L. Perry, Jim S. Royer, Kathy Sharum, Brad K. Shram, Maggie L. Smith, Mike D. Stiles, Doug G. Stinson, Dave Tyra, Kyle Wiechert, 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”, eBird at http://tinyurl.com/mr5ca9v, or contact Tom Edell at (805) 995-1691 or tedell@aol.com….Maggie Smith