California, 30th October - 25th November 2001

Published by Surfbirds Admin (surfbirds AT surfbirds.com)

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By Robert Grimmond

This particular trip was our third to California and the first we had made in late fall/early winter. So there were some target species appropriate to the time of year. Lifers are marked with a double asterisk. New ABA birds are marked with a single asterisk.

Good information sources were John Kemper's book "Birding Northern California" and Brad Schram's "Guide to Birding Southern California" (ABA). Both have good maps and directions. I also got useful information from subscribers to the 'Calbird' mailing list, various local mailing lists and the Internet. Useful web sites are:

http://www.geocities.com/steve_holzman/birding/emailmap.htm. (a comprehensive list of local mailing lists) http://fog.ccsf.cc.ca.us/~jmorlan/county.htm (Joe Morlan's California County Birding site)

At the end of the report there is a compilation of tips and ideas from local birders, which I hope will be of use to others.

I haven't given specific directions to sites since they are mostly well covered in the literature or on the web. However, if anyone needs any specific information, then don't hesitate to contact me.

Tuesday 30th October

My wife, Kay, and I flew into San Francisco on 30th October and were met by my brother, who lives at Clayton, near Concord. For the next week, birding was largely confined to the backyard, Donner and Mitchell Canyons (Mount Diablo SP) and Fisherman's Wharf area of San Francisco on a day trip.

Wednesday 31st October

Kay and I took our 18-month nephew for a walk into Clayton. Birds seen, largely common resident or wintering species, were 2 Turkey Vultures, 1 American Kestrel, 1 California Quail, 5 Anna's Hummingbirds, 10 Northern Flickers, 2 Black Phoebes, 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 1 Northern Mockingbird, 10 Western Bluebirds, 1 Hermit Thrush, 4+ Bushtits, 1 Oak Titmouse, Western Scrub-Jay (common), House Finch (common), 8+ Yellow-rumped Warblers, California Towhee (common), White-crowned Sparrow (common), Golden-crowned Sparrow (common) and Dark-eyed ("Oregon") Junco (common).

In the evening we enjoyed the Halloween experience with the children!

Thursday 1st November

In the morning we took a hike up Donner Canyon, in Mount Diablo State Park. This has become one of my favourite birding spots. It is accessed via Regency Gate, which is at the end of Regency Drive, Clayton (a right turn at the very end of Clayton if you take Clayton Road from Concord). The highlight was probably Red-breasted Sapsucker.

Full list was 1 Sharp-shinned Hawk, 2 Red-tailed Hawks, 8 Mourning Doves, a few Anna's Hummingbirds, 1 Red-breasted Sapsucker, 2 Nuttall's Woodpeckers, 1 Black Phoebe, Ruby-crowned Kinglet (very common - 1 male showed his red crown in response to pishing), 3+ Bewick's Wrens, 1 Northern Mockingbird (singing), 2 California Thrashers (on the track ahead of us in the chaparral zone), 1 Hermit Thrush, several Bushtits, 4 Oak Titmouse, 2 White-breasted Nuthatches, 7+ Wrentits (1 seen, 6+ heard), 2 Steller's Jays, Western Scrub-Jay (common), 2+ Lesser Goldfinches, several California Towhees, 4 Spotted Towhees, 3 "Sooty" Fox Sparrows, 4 White-crowned Sparrows, Golden-crowned Sparrow (common) and Dark-eyed Junco (common).

We also saw a number of birds from my brother's yard. Most were seen frequently throughout our stay in Clayton.The regulars were Anna's Hummingbird, Hermit Thrush, California Towhee and Golden-crowned Sparrow. Less frequent were birds such as Bushtit, Lesser Goldfinch and Fox Sparrow. That day I saw a 'Slate-colored' Fox Sparrow on the hill just beyond the yard.

Friday 2nd November

This day we took the BART into San Francisco from Concord. Birding was incidental to visits to the usual tourist spots. At Fisherman's Wharf we had 2 Brown Pelicans, Heermann's Gull (common), Mew Gull*, 1 Ring-billed Gull, Western Gull (common) and Brewer's Blackbird (common). We also saw 3 possible Glaucous-winged x Western Gull hybrids.

Saturday 3rd November

We spent the day in Clayton. Birds seen around my brother's house were 2 Turkey Vultures, 1 American Kestrel, 2 Anna's Hummingbirds, 1 Northern Flicker, 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 1 Northern Mockingbird, 11 Western Bluebirds, 1 Hermit Thrush, a few Western Scrub-Jays, 1 American Crow, 3 American Goldfinches, 1 Fox Sparrow (very much like the Canadian Rocky Mountain type shown in Sibley's "North American Bird Guide"), 2 California Towhees and 3+ Golden-crowned Sparrows. Later in the day a couple of Red-tailed Hawks were soaring over local playing fields.

Sunday 4th November

My brother offered to take us out for the day so we opted to visit Point Reyes. On the way we went past San Pablo Bay NWR, where from the car we saw 3 Great Egrets, 1 Snowy Egret, several Canada Geese, many Northern Shovelers, 3 Northern Harriers, 1 Red-tailed Hawk, 1 American Kestrel, 20+ American Coots and 50+Black-necked Stilts.

Unfortunately, it was pretty foggy on the western side of the Point Reyes, so we abandoned our attempt to go to the Fish Docks. At Drake's Beach it was clear and we had 1 Red-throated Loon*, 2 Brown Pelicans, a few Surf Scoters, 20+ Mew Gulls, several California Gulls, many Western Gulls, a few Herring Gulls and 1 Glaucous-winged Gull.

We spent the afternoon walking west on Limantour Beach until the fog started to come down late in the afternoon. There were plenty of birds, including 2+ Red-throated and 18+ Common Loons, 2 Red-necked Grebes*, 1 American White Pelican, several Canvasbacks, 25+ American Wigeons, 40+ Bufflehead** (at last!), a few Greater Scaup, 100+ Surf and 40+ White-winged* Scoters and 16 Snowy Plovers*. It's quite clear to me now how Surf Scoters get their name!

Other birds here were 20+ Brown Pelicans, many Double-crested Cormorants, 1 Great Blue Heron, 3 Great Egrets, a few Northern Pintails, 50+ Black-bellied Plovers, 8 Semipalmated Plovers, 2 Marbled Godwits, 30+ Sanderlings, 4+ Least Sandpipers, 50+Dunlins, 10+ Heermann's Gulls, 2 Ring-billed Gulls, a few California Gulls, 2 Glaucous-winged Gulls, 20+ Western Gulls, 2 Black Phoebes, 2 Common Ravens, 1 Song Sparrow and 5+ White-crowned Sparrows.

Elsewhere on the peninsula we saw single Pied-billed Grebe and Belted Kingfisher on Tomales Bay, 1 Northern Harrier, several California Quails on roadsides late in the day and several European Starlings and Brewer's Blackbirds.

Monday 5th November

On the final day before we went on our travels, I decided to take a hike to Mitchell and White Canyons, where I had not been before. It is a relatively easy walk from Donner Canyon. It is also possible to drive down to Mitchell Canyon from Clayton and park in the parking lot (for a fee).

I failed to find any Bell's Sage Sparrows in White Canyon but did manage to see a good selection of common birds.

Full list was: 1 Cooper's Hawk (in White Canyon), 1 Red-tailed Hawk, 2 American Kestrels, 1 Mourning Dove, 4 Anna's Hummingbirds, 4 Acorn Woodpeckers, 5 Northern Flicker, 1 Say's Phoebe, 1 Western Bluebird, 2 Hermit Thrushes, 5+ Ruby-crowned Kinglets, 15 Bushtits, 10 Oak Titmouse, 1White-breasted Nuthatch, 12+ Western Scrub-Jays, 7 Wrentits, 1 House Finch, 8 Spotted Towhees, 2 California Towhees, 2 White-crowned Sparrows, 10+ Golden-crowned Sparrows and 12+ Dark-eyed Juncos.

In my brother's yard were the usual Black Phoebe and Northern Mockingbird.

Tuesday 6th November

We picked up our rental car from Buchanan Field, Concord and headed for Monterey. On the way we stopped off at Lake Merritt, in Oakland, an attractive urban park that produced some interesting birds. They included Eared Grebe, amazingly tame Great Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons (I took a photo of two birds together, one perched on a trash bin, the other on a hedge!), 6+ Common Goldeneyes*, 3+ Barrow's Goldeneyes**, Bufflehead and a good assortment of gulls - Ring-billed, California, Western, a tame juvenile Thayer's**, Herring, Glaucous-winged and a few apparent Glaucous-winged x Western Hybrids.

Full list here was: 20+ Pied-billed Grebe, 1 Eared Grebe, 100+ Double-crested Cormorants, 1 Brown Pelican, 2 Great Egrets, 1 Snowy Egret, 6 Black-crowned Night-Herons (4 adults & 2 juveniles), Canada Goose, Mallard, Canvasback, Lesser Scaup and Ruddy Duck (all five species common), 6+ Common Goldeneyes, 2+ Barrow's Goldeneyes, 40+ Buffleheads, American Coot (common), Ring-billed Gull (common), several California and Herring Gulls, Western Gull and Glaucous-winged Gull (both common), at least 3 distinct Glaucous-winged x Western Gull hybrids, including 1 adult, and 1 Thayer's Gull.

We spent the next two nights at the Best Western Park Crest in Monterey.

Wednesday 7th November

We had booked a trip with Monterey Bay Whale Watch. On our way down to the harbour, we heard Pygmy Nuthatches calling in pines in the park opposite our motel in Munras Avenue.

The weather for the boat trip was good and we had wonderful views of two Humpback Whales loafing around the boat and 'spy hopping' and brief views of a Grey Whale's spout. Birds were on the low side in terms of variety - plenty of Pacific and Common Loons, a couple of Sooty Shearwaters, several Rhinoceros Auklets and lots of Common Murres. As we were returning to harbour, I noticed a big brownish, petrel-like, bird gliding low over the water. It had white uppertail coverts and a distinct white chin and 'face' - a nice, late Black-footed Albatross**! Other birds seen on the trip were many Brown Pelicans and Brandt's Cormorants, Heermann's and Western Gulls and several California Gulls. We also saw 1500 Common Dolphins & 3 Sea Otters.

In the afternoon we explored the Fisherman's Wharf area and walked to Cannery Row and back. Birds in the harbour included a Western Grebe and a Red-breasted Merganser. Yellow-rumped Warblers were abundant along the walkway to Cannery Row. Other birds seen in the harbour area were 3+ Common Loons, 1 Pied-billed Grebe, 2 Eared Grebes, Brown Pelican (common), a few Double-crested Cormorants, Brandt's Cormorant (common), 1 Great Egret, Heermann's Gull (common), several Mew and Ring-billed Gulls, a few Glaucous-winged and Herring Gulls, Western Gull (common), 2 Belted Kingfishers, 1 Black Phoebe, American Crow (common), 1 European Starling, 1 White-crowned Sparrow and Brewer's Blackbird (common).

Thursday 8th November

We left Monterey and headed south on CA1. The weather was fine and we had much better coastal views than on our previous visit here in 1999. Just south of Monterey we had a Peregrine Falcon. Further on we saw our first White-tailed Kite, Cooper's Hawk and Black Oystercatcher of the trip. Other birds on this stretch were a few Common Loons, Brown Pelican and Brandt's Cormorant (both common), 3+ Pelagic Cormorants, 1 Great Blue Heron, 1 Great Egret on the kelp, several Turkey Vultures, 4+ Red-tailed Hawks, 1 Glaucous-winged Gull (a tame 1st winter at Cuyacos), 1 Acorn Woodpecker, 1 Wrentit, 2 European Starlings, 1 Yellow-rumped Warbler and 3+ White-crowned Sparrows.

We stopped at Piedras Blancas Point to see the Elephant Seals, which were quite something. Birds found in the area included 1 Long-billed Curlew, 1 Western Sandpiper, 6 Black Turnstones, 1 Surfbird, 2 Willets and 16 Elegant Terns. Other birds were Brown Pelican, 1 Cooper's Hawk, 3 Black-bellied Plovers, California and Western Gulls (common), 1 House Wren, 1 American Crow (a lunch guest!), 6 White-crowned Sparrows and Brewer's Blackbird (common - also lunch guests!) There were many immature Elephant Seals on the beach and in the sea. The adult males had yet to arrive (usually from early December).

We spent the night at the Comfort Inn, Santa Maria.

Friday 9th November

Our main birding stop of the morning was at Ocean Beach County Park, west of Lompoc. The mouth of the Santa Ynez River and beach were very productive. Highlights were 10+ Western and 5 Eared Grebes, 1 Pelagic Cormorant, 2 Northern Harriers, 14 Snowy Plovers on the beach, 4 Royal Terns** and 4 Savannah Sparrows. Other birds were Brown Pelican (common), Double-crested Cormorant (common), 1 Great Blue Heron, 5+ Great Egrets, 7+ Mallards, 10+ Northern Pintails, 3 Northern Shovelers, 1Red-breasted Merganser, Ruddy Duck (common), 3 Turkey Vultures, 1 American Kestrel, American Coot (common), 5 Black-bellied Plovers, 1 Greater Yellowlegs, 4 Long-billed Curlews, 6+ Sanderlings, Heermann's Gull (common), 10+ Mew Gulls, several California Gulls, 1 Glaucous-winged Gull, Western Gull (common), a few Herring Gulls, 2 Black Phoebes, 1 American Pipit, 2 House Finches and Brewer's Blackbird (common).

In the afternoon we paid an interesting visit to La Purisima Mission State Park. Birds there were of common varieties - 1 Nuttall's Woodpecker, 2 Black Phoebes, 1 Bewick's Wren, 1 Northern Mockingbird, 10+ Western Bluebirds, 1+ Wrentit, Bushtit, Western Scrub-Jay and American Crow (all three common), a few House Finches and many Yellow-rumped Warblers.

We spent the night at the Days Inn, Buellton. We made a visit to Solvang (the Danish town), where we had our evening meal. It's a pretty place, though perhaps somewhat out of place in Southern California, I think!

Saturday 10th November

Not being far from Zaca Station Road, we headed there after checking out of our motel, since in recent years it had been reliable for Lewis's Woodpecker (one of my 'bogey' birds). We spent a short time there and found no woodpeckers apart from single Acorn - Woodpecker and Northern Flicker - there were plenty of Western Bluebirds (12+) and Yellow-billed Magpies (20+) though. Other birds were 4 Red-tailed Hawks, 3 Killdeers and several Brewer's Blackbirds. We made our way back towards the coast, where we stopped off at Refugio State Beach (where a Lewis's Woodpecker had recently been reported). The most significant sighting here was a flock of 43 Willets. Other birds were 8+ Western Grebes, Brown Pelican (common), a few Black-bellied Plovers, Heermann's, California and Western Gull (all three common), 2 Black Phoebes, 3 American Crows, several Yellow-rumped Warblers and 4 White-crowned Sparrows.

Late morning we stopped at Santa Barbara, where we explored the area around Chase Palm Park and Stearns Wharf (where we had good fish and chips!). The pools behind the beach were good - among other birds they held a Horned Grebe* and 7 species of gull, including two Thayer's. On the beach there were two Willets, one of which had coloured bands on its legs (red and yellow on the left and blue on the right). I've learnt since that this bird was banded at Lake Abert, Oregon, in 1997 and has subsequently been seen at Santa Barbara each year since. If you're in the area, look out for it!

Full list here was: 1 Horned Grebe, 2 Western Grebes, Brown Pelican (common - including a very tame juvenile on Stearns Wharf), 1 Snowy Egret, 4 American Wigeons, 4 Mallards, American Coot (common), a few Black-bellied Plovers, 6 Killdeers, 1 Marbled Godwit, 2+ Long-billed Curlews, 2 Willets, 1 Western Sandpiper, 8 Least Sandpiper, Heermann's and Western Gulls (common), several Mew, Ring-billed and California Gulls, 2 Glaucous-winged Gulls and 2 Thayer's Gulls.

We finished off the day at Andree Clark Bird Refuge. It was pretty quiet there but there was a Black-crowned Night Heron and the first Common Yellowthroats of the trip. Other birds were 6+ Pied-billed Grebes, 8+ Eared Grebes, 3+ Western Grebes, several Double-crested Cormorants, 1 Great Blue Heron, 2 Snowy Egrets, a few Mallards, many Ruddy Ducks, 1 American Kestrel, 2 Heermann's Gulls, 5+ Bushtits, 1 White-crowned Sparrow and 3 Western Meadowlarks.

We spent the next two nights at the Vagabond Inn, Ventura.

Sunday 11th November

This was the day for our trip to Santa Cruz Island. Unfortunately the day started off wet. On the crossing seabird activity was low - just 4+ Western Grebes in Ventura harbour, 3 Brandt's Cormorants and 2 Cassin's Auklets (near the island). I thought I saw a couple of small shearwaters but views were too brief (not helped by the movement of the catamaran). It was dry by the time we reached the island but it rained several times more during the morning, once heavily for about 30 minutes, as we were returning from a hike to Cavern Point with a Ranger. There was no shelter and I was thinking "What happens if it stays like this for the next six hours?" Luckily it got better. As we were sheltering just under trees just below the Ranger Station, with two Alaskan birders, Larry and Connie, we hear Scrub Jay-like calls and went out into the open as the rain eased. After a few minutes we saw a very bedraggled Island Scrub Jay**!

We walked past the Eucalyptus grove (and campsite), where we had good views of Allen's Hummingbirds**, which seemed plentiful. As we were passing a pepper tree, I stopped to look at some birds flitting around in it and discovered a Northern Parula, a lifer for Larry and Connie. After lunch, we decided to hike to the beginning of the canyon for another look at Scrub Jays. On the way, we found several Say's Phoebes, 2 Loggerhead Shrikes, lots of Purple Finches and a Rufous-crowned Sparrow. We had no luck with Scrub Jays so decided to return to the jetty. When we got back to the area where we saw a single Scrub Jay in the morning, we found three birds, which gave better views! A marauding Sharp-shinned Hawk more or less finished off the birding day.

Full list for the island was: Brown Pelican (common), several Double-crested and Brandt's Cormorants, 1 Sharp-shinned Hawk, 2 Red-tailed Hawks, 6+ American Kestrels (one of which took prey to a wind pump and plucked it), 2 Peregrine Falcons (over Cavern Point), 33+ California Quails (including one group of 27!), 7+ Mourning Doves, 1 White-throated Swift (at Cavern Point), Allen's Hummingbird (common around the Eucalyptus grove just inland from Scorpion Anchorage), 6 Black Phoebes, 8 Say's Phoebes, 200+ Horned Larks (at Cavern Point), 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 3 Bewick's Wrens, 1 House Wren, 2 Loggerhead Shrikes, 3+ Island Scrub-Jays, Common Raven (common), Purple Finch (common), 1 Northern Parula (probably an immature male), Yellow-rumped Warbler (abundant around Eucalyptus trees), 1 Rufous-crowned Sparrow, 1 Song Sparrow, several White-crowned Sparrows and 14+ Western Meadowlarks.

Monday 12th November

We had a long drive to Ridgecrest but decided to stop on the way at the sod farms south of Oxnard. We went the length of Arnold Road but found only large flocks of Dunlins and American Pipits. We tried Casper Road but turned back after half a mile since the fields didn't look too promising. If only I had known at the time that a Mountain Plover had been seen in a field at the end of the road at the weekend! We saw little en route - the only bird of note was a White-tailed Kite near Lancaster. We spent the night at the Econolodge, Ridgecrest.

Tuesday 13th November

In the morning we drove over the Panamint Mountains to Death Valley. At Stovepipe Wells Village and the Furnace Creek Visitor Center there were plenty of Common Ravens and Great-tailed Grackles. We had our lunch at the Visitor Center, where a very tame Greater Roadrunner joined us! Here we also saw a quite tame Coyote, walking along the road to the airport. We spent the afternoon at spots such as Zabriskie Point and Dante's Peak, seeing few birds apart from several Ravens. Their numbers show how they have become a problem for some other wildlife (such as Desert Tortoise). We spent the night at Stovepipe Wells Village.

Wednesday 14th November

In between enjoying the scenery, we paid a visit to Furnace Creek Ranch. I was hoping to find Ruddy Ground Doves, which had been reported there in October. We tried the area around the building with a white fence, behind the Post Office, where they had been seen. We found 10 Inca Doves but no other doves. As we moved along the date palms, I noticed a medium-sized dark bird fluttering around between the palms. A quick look through the binoculars confirmed my hunch - Lewis's Woodpecker**, at last! I counted at least 12 among the date palms; I suspect there were more around the Ranch. A brief commotion in the tops of the palms drew our attention - a Prairie Falcon** had snatched a Blackbird or Grackle and was carrying it off! We also saw a Northern Harrier flying out of a palm. We checked out the stables and found a Yellow-headed Blackbird among the small number of Red-winged and Brewer's Blackbirds (including a leucistic bird). Other birds were 4 Mourning Doves, 2 Northern Flickers, 2 Say's Phoebes, Common Raven and European Starling (both common), several House Sparrows and White-crowned Sparrows, 6+ Western Meadowlarks and Great-tailed Grackle (common).

On returning home, I learnt that 5 Ruddy Ground Doves were seen on November 22nd near motel unit 700. They were probably around when we visited but we just didn't have the time on a brief visit to cover all the ground. Never mind - it's all part of the fun and pain of birding!

Birds seen in other parts of the valley were 1 Red-tailed Hawk (over Golden Canyon), 1 American Kestrel (just north of Badwater) and 2 Say's Phoebes (along Artist's Drive). On the way out we saw 4 California Quails along Panamint Valley Road, southwest of Ballarat.

We spent the night at the Econolodge, Ridgecrest, again (same room, by chance!).

Thursday 15th November

Our destination was Taft in the Central Valley but we made a stop at Jawbone Canyon, not far from Ridgecrest. This gave us our first real opportunity of Le Conte's Thrasher, one of the main targets of the trip. We called in at the BLM Visitor Center, where a chance conversation with the Ranger on duty led to us being shown a hibernating Desert Tortoise, all of 104 years old! We then spent the rest of the morning in the Canyon. I thought I saw a Thrasher sitting on a distant bush but by the time I got nearer it had disappeared. Birds were thin on the ground. We found just 3 Say's Phoebes, a Loggerhead Shrike, a Canyon Wren, 5 House Finches and the usual Ravens. We also saw a Black-tailed Jackrabbit. It's not helped by the disturbance from off-road vehicles. We were intrigued to see one man ride his motorbike almost vertically up the side of a mountain, then freewheel down!

After heading west into the Central Valley from CA58, we came across a somewhat surreal landscape of miles of flat, open, agricultural land with a foggy backdrop. The only bird of note was a Northern Harrier along CA223, west of Arvin. It turned even stranger as we approached Maricopa when oil wells became increasingly more numerous. We stopped off briefly along Petroleum Club Road but found little apart from Western Meadowlarks and another Black-tailed Jackrabbit. We spent the night at the Holland Inn, Taft. We felt that Taft was a much nicer place to stay than Maricopa (also being bigger and consequently having more choice in terms of accommodation and places to eat).

Friday 16th November

This was going to be my only real chance to find Le Conte's Thrasher so I got up early, leaving Kay in bed, and arrived at Petroleum Club Road (PCR) by 6.30 a.m. I tried a number of spots between Kerto and Cadet Roads, particularly where a tarmac road crosses PCR just north of the oil gusher memorial (as recommended to me by Bill Bouton). Brad Schram's guide has a good map showing these roads.

I heard a Thrasher singing but it could have been a California or Le Conte's. There were plenty of Sage Sparrows ('canescens' race), some singing, and at least 5 Loggerhead Shrikes. Other birds were 4+ California Quails, several White-crowned Sparrows and many Western Meadowlarks (some singing). I gave up at 8.15 and headed back to the hotel. After checking out, we went back to PCR for one last try. We got there at 9.15 and concentrated on the area around the tarmac road mentioned earlier. After following the tarmac road east from PCR for a bit, I noticed movement and saw two Le Conte's Thrashers** standing by a bush then running across the road into the brush - not to be seen again! Though brief, the views had been good.

We then crossed over to the Carrizo Plain, via CA58. Along the road we saw 2 Golden Eagles and a couple of Mountain Bluebirds. Other birds were 2 Red-tailed Hawks, many Common Ravens and Brewer's Blackbirds and several Red-winged Blackbirds. We checked out the dirt fields along the beginning of Soda Valley Road but found little of note apart from Long-billed Curlews. Further down the road, inside the National Monument we found a flock of 50+ Mountain Bluebirds that performed well along the roadside. Other birds were 1 Red-tailed Hawk, 5 American Kestrel, 1,000+ Long-billed Curlews (in a long flock flying east), 2 Mourning Doves, Say's Phoebe (common), 2 Horned Larks, Common Raven (common), European Starling (common), several House Finches, 1 Lark Sparrow, Sage Sparrow ("canescens" race common), several Savannah Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrow and Western Meadowlark (both common). We also saw a Coyote hunting.

After leaving the plain, we headed west on CA58. At the junction with Pozo Road, we stopped to have a look for Lewis's Woodpeckers, without success (perhaps I was being greedy!). We did see another Prairie Falcon, perched on top of a telegraph pole until an Acorn Woodpecker dislodged it! Also here were 1 American Kestrel, 3+ California Quails, 2 Western Scrub-Jays, several White-crowned Sparrows, 40+ Red-winged Blackbirds, Brewer's Blackbird (common) and several Brown-headed Cowbirds.

We made a further stop at the junction of CA58 and CA229, mainly for a drink and to check the map. As we were about to leave, Kay asked me whether it was a cat she had seen climbing up the bank. I took a quick look through the binoculars and replied "Bobcat!" It walked casually up the hillside, giving us just a glance and ambled into the chaparral. Definitely one of the mammal highlights of the trip. Birds here were 2 Acorn Woodpeckers at a 'larder' tree, 1 Northern Flicker and several Western Scrub-Jays.

We spent the night at the Super 8, San Luis Obispo.

Saturday 17th November

Our plan was to check out some of the coastal spots to the west of Arroyo Grande. In the Shell Beach area, we stopped briefly at Margo Dodd Park. Apart from lots of Brown Pelicans, Brandt's Cormorants and Western Gulls and 4 Black Oystercatchers, it produced our only Caspian Tern of the trip.

Since it was cool and a bit foggy, we decided to try a bit further up the coast so went to Montana de Oro State Park, just south of Morro Bay. This proved to be a good decision since the sun was out (but not for long!) and the scenery was good. We did the walk along the bluffs, just southwest of park headquarters. The birding was pretty good. There were lots of Loons moving in flocks offshore, a Black-vented Shearwater** close inshore, 40+ Brants flying south, Elegant Tern and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. A couple of Sea Otters and a Harbour Seal were visible in the kelp bed. This looks to be a good spot that deserves more time than we could afford.

Full list here was: Red-throated Loon, Pacific Loon, Common Loon (all three species common), 1 Black-vented Shearwater, Brown Pelican (common), Brandt's Cormorant (common), a few Pelagic Cormorants, 1 Snowy Egret, 40+ Brants, 20+ Surf Scoters, 1 Turkey Vulture, 12+ Black Oystercatchers, 2 Black Turnstones, a few Mew and Ring-billed Gulls, Heermann's and Western Gulls (both common), 2 Herring Gulls, 1 Elegant Tern, 1 Belted Kingfisher, 1 Northern Flicker, 2 American Pipits, 2 Say's Phoebes, 1 Wrentit, 3 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, 1 Bushtit, several House Finches, 30+ American Goldfinches, 2+ Common Yellowthroats, a few Song Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrow and Brewer's Blackbird (both common)

In the afternoon we called in at Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, in the south-eastern corner of Morro Bay. Luckily the fog lifted a short time after we got there. Here we found 1 Common Loon, 7 American White Pelicans (a reliable winter haunt), Brown Pelican (common), 100+ Double-crested Cormorants, 2 Great Blue Herons, 1 Great Egret, 1Snowy Egret, 20+ Brants, 2 Northern Shovelers, 1 Lesser Scaup, 20+ Buffleheads, 30+ Ruddy Ducks, American Coot (common), 4 Black-bellied Plovers, 1 Short-billed Dowitcher, 100+ Marbled Godwits, 2 Greater Yellowlegs, 6+ Willets, a few Ring-billed Gulls, several Western Gulls, 6+ Forster's Terns, 3 Mourning Doves, 1 Northern Flicker, several European Starlings, 4+ House Sparrows, 2+ Yellow-rumped Warblers and 2+ Common Yellowthroats.

We spent the night at the Best Western, King City.

Sunday 18th November

When planning our travels, we hadn't been sure how best to use this day. We decided to visit the western part of Pinnacles National Monument. It was a good decision because we left the fog behind on the climb up, leaving a nice, sunny day. On CA146, the approach road, we had good views of an adult Golden Eagle. When we got there, White-throated Swifts were twittering over the Pinnacles. We also found 2 Anna's Hummingbirds, 1+ Red-breasted Sapsucker, 2 Northern Flickers, 1 Black Phoebe, 2 Bewick's Wrens, 2 California Thrashers (quite tame birds running across the picnic area

and foraging on the hillside under the trees), 1 Wrentit, 18 Bushtits, 3+ Oak Titmouse (including one very tame bird on the ground and fence by the picnic area), several Western Scrub-Jays, 2 Common Ravens, 1 American Goldfinch, 1 Spotted Towhee, 4 California Towhees, several White-crowned Sparrows and 2 Dark-eyed Juncos. The scenery was great.

We spent the night at the Days Inn, Los Banos (good steaks at a steakhouse about a quarter mile west of the motel).

Monday 19th November

This was the last big birding day of the trip. We started off at Merced National Wildlife Refuge, which we had previously visited in September 1999. We had a good list of species (41), with the last lifer of the trip, Ross's Goose** (several were present, mainly with the Snow Geese). Other highlights were 16 White-faced Ibises, 200+ Snow Geese*, 500+ Greater White-fronted Geese*, 1 White-tailed Kite, 8+ Northern Harriers, 1 Red-shouldered and 6+ Red-tailed Hawks, 63+ Sandhill Crane (small fry when you consider the official count on the previous Thursday was 13, 784!), many Long-billed Dowitchers and Tree Swallow (100+).

Other birds were 2 Great Blue Herons, Great Egret (common), 1 Snowy Egret, Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintail and Northern Shoveler (all common), Mallard (abundant), 1 American Kestrel, American Coot (abundant), Black-necked Stilt and Killdeer (both common), 2 Common Snipes, several Long-billed Curlews, Greater Yellowlegs (common), 3+ Lesser Yellowlegs, 50+ Western Sandpipers, Least Sandpiper and Dunlin (both common), 1 Herring Gull, 1 Mourning Dove, 1 Belted Kingfisher, 3 Black Phoebes, 2+ Marsh Wrens, 1 Northern Mockingbird, a few American Pipits, Savannah Sparrow (common), a few Song Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird and Western Meadowlark (all three common).

When we headed west towards San Luis Refuge, we saw a number of mixed Blackbird flocks along Henry Miller Road. Here we saw our only Tricolored Blackbirds of the trip. San Luis was disappointing (as we had also found it to be in September 1999) but we did see four more Sandhill Cranes and there were even more Harriers here than at Merced. A Loggerhead Shrike was one species not seen at Merced. New wildfowl species for the trip were Gadwall (common) and Cinnamon Teal (several) Afterwards we saw 6 Cattle Egrets along CA140 at its junction with Edminster Road.

We returned to Clayton for the night.

Tuesday 20th November

We took our car back to Concord airport and took the BART into San Francisco for the day. We went to the western part of Golden Gate Park. The problem here is that we spent a fair bit of time looking for somewhere to have lunch so we didn't make the best of our time. We briefly visited most of the lakes in the western part. New birds for the trip were Ring-necked Duck, Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Cedar Waxwing (one of which was taken by an accipiter) and Townsend's Warbler. There was a good selection of gulls on the main lakes.

Full list here was 1 Pied-billed Grebe (Elk Glen Lake), 12+ American Wigeons (Lloyds Lake), Mallard (common), 6 Ring-necked Ducks (Lloyds Lake), 2 Red-tailed Hawks, American Coot (common), 30+ Killdeers, (Bison paddock area), Mew Gull (common), several Ring-billed Gulls, 3+ Glaucous-winged Gulls, Western Gull (common), 2 Herring Gulls, Anna's Hummingbird (common), 1 Belted Kingfisher (Middle Lake), 2+ Northern Flickers, 3+ Black Phoebes, several Golden-crowned Kinglets, 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 20+ Cedar Waxwings (Elk Glen Lake - one taken by an Accipter hawk!), American Robin (common), several Chestnut-backed Chickadees and Pygmy Nuthatches, 1 Brown Creeper, several Western Scrub-Jays, American Crow (common), a few American Goldfinches, Yellow-rumped Warbler (common), 1 Townsend's Warbler, White-crowned Sparrow (common), 8+ Dark-eyed Juncos and Brewer's Blackbird (common).

Thursday 22nd November

Another hike up Donner Canyon produced a few new birds for the trip - 1 Hairy Woodpecker, 1 Hutton's Vireo and 1 Lincoln's Sparrow. Other birds included were 3 Turkey Vultures, 1 Golden Eagle, 1 Anna's Hummingbird, 1 Red-breasted Sapsucker, 1 Nuttall's Woodpecker, 2 Northern Flickers, 1 Black Phoebes, 3 Ruby-crowned Kinglets, 1 California Thrasher, 3 Wrentits (seen together, others heard), a few Oak Titmouse, 1 White-breasted Nuthatch, several Western Scrub-Jay, 1 Hutton's Vireo, 2 Hermit Thrushes, a few White-crowned Sparrows, 2 Spotted Towhees, 1 California Towhee and several Dark-eyed Juncos.

In the late afternoon my brother and his family took us out to have Thanksgiving Dinner with friends of theirs. It gave us our first taste of pumpkin pie!

Friday 23rd November

A full family excursion to the San Mateo coast led us San Gregorio State Park, south of Half Moon Bay. The usual coastal birds were here - several Brown Pelicans, 12+ Surf Scoters, Heermann's Gull (common), several Mew Gulls, California Gull (common), a few 3+ Herring Gulls and 3+ Glaucous-winged Gulls. There was also a single Black Phoebe.

Saturday 24th November

I made a brief visit to Donner Canyon in the afternoon, between rain showers. The only bird out of the ordinary was a Northern Harrier, the first I had seen at this site. Otherwise it was the regular roll call of Mourning Dove, Anna's Hummingbird, Nuttall's Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Western Bluebird, Oak Titmouse, Western Scrub-Jay, California Towhee, Golden-crowned Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco.

Sunday 25th November

It was our farewell to California and our flight home. My brother drove us to the airport. On the way, we saw our last birds of the trip, Buffleheads in San Mateo Bay and Ring-billed Gulls around the airport.

In all we recorded 171 species. This was pretty satisfactory since we had mainly concentrated on target birding. We made no attempt for higher altitude species, for example. I added 12 lifers, 9 new species to my ABA recording area list and 27 to my California list (now 237). The only disappointments were missing out on Mountain Plover, Ruddy Ground Dove and Varied Thrush. In hindsight I would perhaps have chosen a less tight schedule. It meant we spent a fair bit of time travelling, so birding opportunities were sometimes restricted.

I'd like to thank again all the California birders who provided me with useful information. I'd also like to compliment Brad Schram on his ABA guide - the maps and directions really are good (not always the case with some books)!

Robert Grimmond
Kent, UK

kay_rob28@hotmail.com


TRIP LIST

Red-throated Loon 4/11 1 Drake's Beach, Point Reyes, 2 Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 17/11 common in large mixed loon flocks offshore from Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay

Pacific Loon 7/11 common on whale watching trip, Monterey Bay; 17/11 common in large mixed loon flocks offshore from Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay

Common Loon 4/11 18+ Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 7/11 common on whale watching trip, Monterey Bay & 3+ Harbour area, Monterey; 8/11 few offshore between Monterey & Morro Bay; 17/11 common in large mixed loon flocks offshore from Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay & 1 Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay

Pied-billed Grebe 4/11 1 Tomales Bay, Point Reyes; 6/11 20+ Lake Merritt, Oakland; 7/11 1 Harbour area, Monterey; 10/11 6+ Andree Clark Bird Refuge, Santa Barbara; 20/11 1 on Elk Glen Lake, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Red-necked Grebe 4/11 2+ Limantour Beach, Point Reyes

Horned Grebe 10/11 1 Chase Palm Park Beach area, Santa Barbara

Eared Grebe 6/11 1 Lake Merritt, Oakland; 7/11 2 Harbour area, Monterey; 9/11 5 Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 10/11 8+ Andree Clark Bird Refuge, Santa Barbara

Western Grebe 7/11 1 Harbour area, Monterey; 9/11 10+ Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 10/11 8+ Refugio State Beach, Santa Barbara County, 2 Chase Palm Park Beach area, Santa Barbara & 3+ Andree Clark Bird Refuge, Santa Barbara; 11/11 4+ Ventura Harbour

Black-footed Albatross 7/11 1 on whale watching trip, Monterey Bay

Sooty Shearwater 7/11 2 on whale watching trip, Monterey Bay

Black-vented Shearwater 17/11 1 inshore at Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay

American White Pelican 4/11 1 Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 17/11 7 Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay

Brown Pelican 2/11 2 Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco; 4/11 2 Drake's Beach & 20+ Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 6/11 1 Lake Merritt, Oakland; 7/11 common both inshore & offshore on whale watching trip, Monterey Bay & in harbour area, Monterey; 8/11 common along coast between Monterey & Morro Bay & several Piedras Blancas Point area; 9/11 common Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 10/11 common Refugio State Beach, Santa Barbara County & Chase Palm Park Beach area, Santa Barbara; 11/11 common Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP; 17/11 common Margo Dodd Park, Shell Beach, SLO County, Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay & Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay; 23/11 several San Gregorio SP, San Mateo Coast

Double-crested Cormorant 4/11 common Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 6/11 100+, Lake Merritt, Oakland; 7/11 few Harbour area, Monterey; 9/11 common Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 10/11 several Andree Clark Bird Refuge, Santa Barbara; 11/11 several Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP; 17/11 100+ Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay

Brandt's Cormorant 7/11 common on whale watching trip, Monterey Bay & in harbour area, Monterey; 8/11 common between Monterey & Morro Bay; 11/11 3 on boat trip from Ventura to Santa Cruz Island & several Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP; 17/11 several Margo Dodd Park, Shell Beach, SLO County & common Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay

Pelagic Cormorant 8/11 3+ between Monterey & Morro Bay; 9/11 1 Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 17/11 few Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay

Great Blue Heron 4/11 Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 8/11 1 by CA1 between Monterey & Morro Bay; 9/11 1 Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 10/11 1 Andree Clark Bird Refuge, Santa Barbara; 17/11 2 Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay; 19/11 2 Merced National Wildlife Refuge & 4 San Luis Wildlife Refuge Area

Great Egret 4/11 3 San Pablo Bay, NWR & 3 Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 6/11 2 Lake Merritt, Oakland; 7/11 1 on kelp beds in harbour area, Monterey; 8/11 1 on kelp between Monterey & Morro Bay; 9/11 5+ Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 17/11 1 Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay; 19/11 common Merced National Wildlife Refuge & 4 San Luis Wildlife Refuge Area

Snowy Egret 4/11 1 San Pablo Bay, NWR; 6/11 1 Lake Merritt, Oakland; 10/11 1 Chase Palm Park Beach area, Santa Barbara & 2 Andree Clark Bird Refuge, Santa Barbara; 17/11 1 Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay & 1 Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay; 19/11 1 Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Cattle Egret 19/11 6+ by cattle feed lots at junction of Edminster Road & CA140, Merced County

Black-crowned Night-Heron 6/11 6 Lake Merritt, Oakland; 10/11 1 Andree Clark Bird Refuge, Santa Barbara

White-faced Ibis 19/11 16 Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Greater White-fronted Goose 19/11 500+ Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Snow Goose 19/11 200+ Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Ross' Goose 19/11 1 on a pool; several others in a flock of Snow Geese at Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Canada Goose 4/11 several San Pablo Bay, NWR; 6/11 common Lake Merritt, Oakland

Brant 17/11 40+ Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay & 20+ Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay

American Wigeon 4/11 25+ Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 10/11 4 Chase Palm Park Beach area, Santa Barbara; 19/11 several San Luis Wildlife Refuge Area; 20/11 Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Gadwall 19/11 common San Luis Wildlife Refuge Area

Green-winged Teal 19/11 common Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Mallard 6/11 several Lake Merritt, Oakland; 9/11 7+ Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County10/11 4 Chase Palm Park Beach area, Santa Barbara & few Andree Clark Bird Refuge, Santa Barbara; 19/11 abundant Merced National Wildlife Refuge & common San Luis Wildlife Refuge Area; 20/11 common Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Northern Pintail 4/11 few Limantour Beach, Point Reyes;9/11 10+ Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 19/11 common Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Cinnamon Teal 19/11 several San Luis Wildlife Refuge Area

Northern Shoveler 4/11 common San Pablo Bay, NWR; 9/11 3 Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 17/11 2 Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay; 19/11 common Merced National Wildlife Refuge & San Luis Wildlife Refuge Area

Canvasback 4/11 several Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 6/11 common Lake Merritt, Oakland

Ring-necked Duck 20/11 6 on Lloyds Lake, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Greater Scaup 4/11 few Limantour Beach, Point Reyes

Lesser Scaup 6/11 common Lake Merritt, Oakland; 17/11 1 Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay

Surf Scoter 4/11 few Drake's Beach, Point Reyes & 100+ Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 7/11 8 on whale watching trip, Monterey Bay 17/11 20+ Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay; 23/11 12+ San Gregorio SP, San Mateo Coast

White-winged Scoter 4/11 40+ Limantour Beach, Point Reyes

Common Goldeneye 6/11 6+ Lake Merritt, Oakland

Barrow's Goldeneye 6/11 2+ Lake Merritt, Oakland

Bufflehead 4/11 40+ on lagoon behind Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 6/11 40+ Lake Merritt, Oakland; 17/11 20+ Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay; 25/11 several near San Mateo Bridge, San Francisco Bay

Red-breasted Merganser 7/11 1 Harbour area, Monterey; 9/11 1 Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County

Ruddy Duck 6/11 100+ Lake Merritt, Oakland; 9/11 common Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 10/11 common Andree Clark Bird Refuge, Santa Barbara; 17/11 30+ Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay

Turkey Vulture 31/10 2 Regency Drive, Clayton; 3/11 2 Regency Drive, Clayton; 4/11 very common along Novato to Point Reyes Road; 8/11 several along CA1 between Monterey & Morro Bay; 9/11 3 Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 17/11 7 along US101 between Shell Beach & Los Osos Valley Road & 1 Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay; 22/11 3 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 25/11 2 between Clayton & San Francisco IAP

White-tailed Kite 8/11 1 along CA1 between Monterey & Morro Bay; 12/11 1 on wires by CA14 at Lancaster; 19/11 1 Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Northern Harrier 4/11 1 Point Reyes & 3 San Pablo Bay, NWR; 9/11 2 Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 14/11 1 Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley; 15/11 1 by CA223 west of Arvin, near Bakersfield; 19/11 8+ Merced National Wildlife Refuge & common San Luis Wildlife Refuge Area; 24/11 1 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

Sharp-shinned Hawk 1/11 1 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 11/11 1 Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP

Cooper's Hawk 5/11 1 White Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 8/11 1 along CA1 between Monterey & Morro Bay & 1 Piedras Blancas Point area

Red-shouldered Hawk 19/11 1 Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Red-tailed Hawk 1/11 2 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 3/11 Clayton; 4/11 2 Novato to Point Reyes Road & 1 San Pablo Bay, NWR; 5/11 1 between Donner & Mitchell Canyons, Mount Diablo SP; 8/11 4+ along CA1 between Monterey & Morro Bay; 10/11 4 Zaca Station Road, Santa Barbara County; 11/1 2 Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP; 14/11 1 Golden Canyon, Badwater Road, Death Valley; 16/11 2 along CA58 between McKittrick & Soda Valley Road; 19/11 6+ Merced National Wildlife Refuge & 5+ San Luis Wildlife Refuge Area; 20/11 2 Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Golden Eagle 16/11 2 along CA58 between McKittrick & Soda Valley Road; 18/11 1 by CA146 on the approach to Pinnacles National Monument; 22/11 1 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

American Kestrel 31/10 1 Regency Drive, Clayton; 3/11 1 Regency Drive, Clayton; 4/11 1 San Pablo Bay, NWR; 5/11 2 between Donner & Mitchell Canyons, Mount Diablo SP; 9/11 1 Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 10/11 1 Andree Clark Bird Refuge, Santa Barbara; 11/11 6+ Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP; 14/11 1 just north of Badwater, Death Valley; 16/11 5 Carrizo Plain & 1 at junction of Pozo Road & CA58; 19/11 1 Merced National Wildlife Refuge & 4 San Luis Wildlife Refuge Area; 23/11 1 Regency Drive, Clayton

Prairie Falcon 14/11 Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley; 16/11 1 at junction of Pozo Road & CA58

Peregrine Falcon 8/11 1 along CA1 between Monterey & Morro Bay; 11/11 2 over Cavern Point, Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP

California Quail 31/10 1 Regency Drive, Clayton; 4/11 several Point Reyes; 11/11 33+ Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP; 14/11 4 along Panamint Valley Road, southwest of Death Valley; 16/11 4+ Petroleum Club Road, Taft & 3+ at junction of Pozo Road & CA58

Sandhill Crane 19/11 63 Merced National Wildlife Refuge & 4 San Luis Wildlife Refuge Area

American Coot 4/11 20+ San Pablo Bay, NWR; 6/11 common Lake Merritt, Oakland; 9/11 common Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 10/11 common Chase Palm Park Beach area, Santa Barbara; common Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay; 19/11 abundant Merced National Wildlife Refuge & common San Luis Wildlife Refuge Area 20/11 common Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Black Oystercatcher 8/11 1 by CA1 between Monterey & Morro Bay 17/11 4 Margo Dodd Park, Shell Beach, SLO County & 12+ Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay

Black-necked Stilt 4/11 50+ San Pablo Bay, NWR 19/11 common Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Black-bellied Plover 4/11 50+ Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 8/11 3 Piedras Blancas Point area; 9/11 5 Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 10/11 few Refugio State Beach, Santa Barbara County & Chase Palm Park Beach area, Santa Barbara; 17/11 4 Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay

Semipalmated Plover 4/11 8 Limantour Beach, Point Reyes

Killdeer 10/11 3 Zaca Station Road, Santa Barbara County & 6 Chase Palm Park Beach area, Santa Barbara; 19/11 common Merced National Wildlife Refuge; 20/11 30+ Bison paddock area, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Snowy Plover 4/11 16 Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 9/11 14 Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County

Common Snipe 19/11 2 Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Short-billed Dowitcher 17/11 1 Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay

Long-billed Dowitcher 19/11 common Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Marbled Godwit 4/11 2 Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 10/11 1 Chase Palm Park Beach area, Santa Barbara; 17/11 100+ Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay

Long-billed Curlew 8/11 1 Piedras Blancas Point area; 9/11 4 Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 10/11 2+ Chase Palm Park Beach area, Santa Barbara; 16/11 1000 Carrizo Plain; 19/11 several Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Greater Yellowlegs 9/11 1 Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 17/11 2 Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay; 19/11 common Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Lesser Yellowlegs 19/11 3+ Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Willet 8/11 2 Piedras Blancas Point area; 10/11 43 Refugio State Beach, Santa Barbara County & 2 Chase Palm Park Beach area, Santa Barbara; 17/11 6+ Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay

Black Turnstone 8/11 6 Piedras Blancas Point area; 17/11 2 Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay

Surfbird 8/11 1 Piedras Blancas Point area

Sanderling 4/11 30+ Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 9/11 6+ Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County

Western Sandpiper 8/11 1 Piedras Blancas Point area; 10/11 1 Chase Palm Park Beach area, Santa Barbara; 19/11 50+ Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Least Sandpiper 4/11 4+ Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 10/11 8 Chase Palm Park Beach area, Santa Barbara; 19/11 common Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Dunlin 4/11 50+ Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 12/11 30+ on sod farms on Arnold Road near Oxnard; 19/11 common Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Heermann's Gull 2/11 common Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco; 4/11 10+ Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 7/11 common on whale watching trip, Monterey Bay & harbour area, Monterey; 9/11 common Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 10/11 common Refugio State Beach, Santa Barbara County & Chase Palm Park Beach area, Santa Barbara & 2 Andree Clark Bird Refuge, Santa Barbara; 17/11 common Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay; 23/11 common San Gregorio SP, San Mateo Coast

Mew Gull 2/11 1 Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco; 4/11 20+ Drake's Beach, Point Reyes; 7/11 several harbour area, Monterey; 9/11 10+ Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County & several Chase Palm Park Beach area, Santa Barbara; 17/11 few Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay; 20/11 common Golden Gate Park, San Francisco; 23/11 several San Gregorio SP, San Mateo Coast

Ring-billed Gull 4/11 1 Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco; 4/11 2 Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 6/11 common Lake Merritt, Oakland; 7/11 several harbour area, Monterey; 10/11 several Chase Palm Park Beach area, Santa Barbara; 17/11 few Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay & Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay; 20/11 several Golden Gate Park, San Francisco; 25/11 few San Francisco IAP

California Gull 4/11 several Drake's Beach, Point Reyes & few Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 6/11 several Lake Merritt, Oakland; 7/11 on whale watching trip, Monterey Bay; 8/11 several Piedras Blancas Point area; 9/11 several Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 10/11 common Refugio State Beach, Santa Barbara County & several Chase Palm Park Beach area, Santa Barbara; 23/11 common San Gregorio SP, San Mateo Coast

Glaucous-winged Gull 4/11 1 Drake's Beach, Point Reyes & 2 Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 6/11 common Lake Merritt, Oakland; 7/11 few harbour area, Monterey; 8/11 1 Cuyacos; 9/11 1 Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 10/11 2 Chase Palm Park Beach area, Santa Barbara; 20/11 3+ Golden Gate Park, San Francisco; 23/11 3+ San Gregorio SP, San Mateo Coast

Western Gull 2/11 common Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco; 4/11 common Drake's Beach & Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 6/11 20+ Lake Merritt, Oakland; 7/11 common on whale watching trip, Monterey Bay & Harbour area, Monterey; 8/11 common Piedras Blancas Point area; 9/11 common Ocean Beach Chase Palm Park Beach area, Santa Barbara; 17/11 common Margo Dodd Park, Shell Beach, SLO County, Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay & Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay; 20/11 common Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Thayer's Gull 6/11 1 Lake Merritt, Oakland; 10/11 2 Chase Palm Park Beach area, Santa Barbara

Herring Gull 4/11 few Drake's Beach, Point Reyes; 6/11 several Lake Merritt, Oakland; 7/11 few harbour area, Monterey; 9/11 few Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 17/11 2 Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay; 19/11 1 Merced National Wildlife Refuge; 20/11 2+ Golden Gate Park, San Francisco; 23/11 few San Gregorio SP, San Mateo Coast

Caspian Tern 17/11 1 Margo Dodd Park, Shell Beach, SLO County

Elegant Tern 8/11 16 Piedras Blancas Point area; 17/11 1 Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay

Royal Tern 9/11 4 Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County

Forster's Tern 17/11 6+ Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay

Common Murre 7/11 common on whale watching trip, Monterey Bay

Cassin's Auklet 11/11 2 near Santa Cruz Island

Rhinoceros Auklet 7/11 several on whale watching trip, Monterey Bay

Mourning Dove 1/11 8 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 5/11 1 between Mitchell & White Canyons, Mount Diablo SP; 11/11 7+ Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP; 14/11 4 Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley; 16/11 2 Carrizo Plain; 17/11 3 Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay; 19/11 1 Merced National Wildlife Refuge; 24/11 2 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

Inca Dove 14/11 10 Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley

Greater Roadrunner 13/11 1 Furnace Creek Visitor Centre, Death Valley

White-throated Swift 11/11 1 Cavern Point, Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP; 18/11 20+ Pinnacles National Monument

Anna's Hummingbird 31/10 5+ Regency Drive, Clayton; 1/11 1 Regency Drive, Clayton & few Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 3/11 2 Regency Drive, Clayton; 5/11 4 on walk to Mitchell & White Canyons, Mount Diablo SP; 18/11 2 Pinnacles National Monument; 20/11 common Golden Gate Park, San Francisco; 22/11 1 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 23/11 2 Regency Drive, Clayton; 24/11 2 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 25/11 2 Regency Drive, Clayton

Allen's Hummingbird 11/11 common around the Eucalyptus grove just inland from Scorpion Anchorage, Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP

Belted Kingfisher 4/11 1 Tomales Bay, Point Reyes; 7/11 2 harbour area, Monterey; 17/11 1 Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay; 19/11 1 Merced National Wildlife Refuge; 20/11 1 over Middle Lake, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Lewis' Woodpecker 14/11 12+ Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley

Acorn Woodpecker 5/11 4 between Mitchell & White Canyons, Mount Diablo SP; 8/11 1 by CA1 between Monterey & Morro Bay; 10/11 1 Zaca Station Road, Santa Barbara County; 16/11 2 at junction of Pozo Road & CA58; 16/11 2 at junction of CA58 & CA229;

Red-breasted Sapsucker 1/11 1 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 18/11 1+ Pinnacles National Monument; 22/11 1 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

Nuttall's Woodpecker 1/11 2 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 9/11 1 La Purisima Mission State Park, Lompoc; 22/11 1 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 24/11 1 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

Hairy Woodpecker 22/11 1 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP (white-bellied interior bird)

Northern Flicker 31/10 10 Regency Drive, Clayton; 3/11 1 Regency Drive, Clayton; 5/11 5 between Mitchell & White Canyons, Mount Diablo SP; 10/11 1 Zaca Station Road, Santa Barbara County; 14/11 2 Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley, 16/11 1 at junction of CA58 & CA229; 17/11 Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay & 1 Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay; 18/11 2 Pinnacles National Monument; 20/11 2+ Golden Gate Park, San Francisco; 22/11 2 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 24/11 7 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

Black Phoebe 31/10 2 Regency Drive, Clayton; 1 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 4/11 2 Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 5/11 1 Regency Drive, Clayton; 7/11 1 harbour area, Monterey; 9/11 2 Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County & 2 La Purisima Mission State Park, Lompoc; 10/11 2 Refugio State Beach, Santa Barbara County; 11/11 6 Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP; 18/11 1 Pinnacles National Monument; 19/11 3 Merced National Wildlife Refuge & 2 San Luis Wildlife Refuge Area; 20/11 3+ Golden Gate Park, San Francisco; 22/22 1 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 23/11 1 Regency Drive, Clayton & 1 San Gregorio SP, San Mateo Coast

Say's Phoebe 5/11 1 between Mitchell & White Canyons, Mount Diablo SP; 11/11 8 Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP; 14/11 2 Furnace Creek Ranch & 2 Badwater Road, Death Valley; 15/11 3 Jawbone Canyon, Kern County; 16/11 common Carrizo Plain; 17/11 2 Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay

Horned Lark 1/11 200+ Cavern Point, Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP; 16/11 2 Carrizo Plain

Tree Swallow 19/11 100+ Merced National Wildlife Refuge

American Pipit 9/11 1 Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 12/11 150+ Arnold Road near Oxnard; 17/11 2 Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay: 19/11 few Merced National Wildlife Refuge & 2 San Luis Wildlife Refuge Area

Golden-crowned Kinglet 20/11 several Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 31/10 1 Regency Drive, Clayton; 1/11 very common Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 3/11 1 Regency Drive, Clayton; 5/11 5+ between Mitchell & White Canyons, Mount Diablo SP; 11/11 1 Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP; 20/11 1 Golden Gate Park, San Francisco; 22/11 3 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 24/11 2 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

Cedar Waxwing 20/11 20+ Elk Glen Lake, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Canyon Wren 15/11 1 Jawbone Canyon, Kern County

Bewick's Wren 1/11 3+ Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 9/11 1 La Purisima Mission State Park, Lompoc; 11/11 3Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP; 18/11 2 Pinnacles National Monument

House Wren 8/11 1 Piedras Blancas Point area; 11/11 1 Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP

Marsh Wren 19/11 3+ Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Northern Mockingbird 31/10 1 Regency Drive, Clayton; 1/11 1 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 3/11 1 Regency Drive, Clayton; 5/11 1 Regency Drive, Clayton; 9/11 1 La Purisima Mission State Park, Lompoc; 19/11 1 Merced National Wildlife Refuge & 2 San Luis Wildlife Refuge Area; 22/11 1 Regency Drive, Clayton; 23/11 2 Regency Drive, Clayton

California Thrasher 1/11 2 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 18/11 2 Pinnacles National Monument; 22/11 1 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

Le Conte's Thrasher 16/11 2 Petroleum Club Road, Taft

Western Bluebird 31/10 10 Regency Drive, Clayton; 1/11 1 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 3/11 11 Regency Drive, Clayton; 5/11 1 between Mitchell & White Canyons, Mount Diablo SP; 9/11 10+ La Purisima Mission State Park, Lompoc; 10/11 12+ Zaca Station Road, Santa Barbara County; 24/11 17 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

Mountain Bluebird 16/11 2 by CA58 between McKittrick & Soda Valley Road; 16/11 50+ Carrizo Plain

Hermit Thrush 31/10 1 Regency Drive, Clayton; 1/11 1 Regency Drive, Clayton & 7+ Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 3/11 1 Regency Drive, Clayton; 5/11 2 Mitchell & White Canyons, Mount Diablo SP; 22/11 2 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

American Robin 20/11 common Golden Gate Park, San Francisco; 24/11 1 Regency Drive, Clayton

Wrentit 1/11 7+ Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 5/11 7 Mitchell & White Canyons, Mount Diablo SP; 8/11 1 by CA1 between Monterey & Morro Bay; 9/11 1+ La Purisima Mission State Park, Lompoc; 17/11 1 Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay; 18/11 1 Pinnacles National Monument; 22/22 6+ Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 17/11 3 Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay

Bushtit 31/10 4+ Regency Drive, Clayton; 1/11 several Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP & 7 Regency Drive, Clayton; 5/11 15 Mitchell & White Canyons, Mount Diablo SP; 9/11 common La Purisima Mission State Park, Lompoc; 10/11 5+ Andree Clark Bird Refuge, Santa Barbara; 17/11 1 Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay; 18/11 18 Pinnacles National Monument

Chestnut-backed Chickadee 20/11 several Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Oak Titmouse 31/10 1 Regency Drive, Clayton; 1/11 4 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 5/11 10 Mitchell & White Canyons, Mount Diablo SP; 18/11 3+ Pinnacles National Monument; 22/11 few Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 24/11 3+ Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

Pygmy Nuthatch 7/11 1+ Munras Avenue, Monterey; 20/11 several Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

White-breasted Nuthatch 1/11 2 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 5/11 1 Mitchell Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 22/11 1 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

Brown Creeper 20/11 1 Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Loggerhead Shrike 11/11 2 Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP; 15/11 1 Jawbone Canyon, Kern County; 16/11 5 Petroleum Club Road, Taft; 19/11 1 San Luis Wildlife Refuge Area

Steller's Jay 1/11 2 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

Island Scrub-Jay 11/11 3 Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP

Western Scrub-Jay 31/10 common Regency Drive, Clayton; 1/11 common Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 3/11 few Regency Drive, Clayton; 5/11 12+ Mitchell & White Canyons, Mount Diablo SP; 9/11 common La Purisima Mission State Park, Lompoc; 16/11 2 junction of Pozo Road & CA58; 16/11 several at junction of CA58 & CA229; 18/11 several Pinnacles National Monument; 20/11 several Golden Gate Park, San Francisco; 22/11 several Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 23/11 2 Regency Drive, Clayton; 24/11 few Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

Yellow-billed Magpie 10/11 20+ Zaca Station Road, Santa Barbara County

American Crow 3/11 1 Regency Drive, Clayton; 4/11 few Novato to Point Reyes Road; 7/11 common harbour area, Monterey; 8/11 1 Piedras Blancas Point area; 9/11 common La Purisima Mission State Park, Lompoc; 10/11 3 Refugio State Beach, Santa Barbara County; 20/11 common Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Common Raven 4/11 2 Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 11/11 common Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP; 13/11 common Stovepipe Wells Village, Furnace Creek Visitor Centre and Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley; 15/11 several Jawbone Canyon, Kern County; 16/11 common CA58 between McKittrick & Soda Valley Road & Carrizo Plain; 18/11 2 Pinnacles National Monument

European Starling 4/11 several Point Reyes; 7/11 1 harbour area, Monterey; 8/11 2 by CA1 between Monterey & Morro Bay; 14/11 common Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley; 16/11 common Carrizo Plain; 17/11 several Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay

House Sparrow 13/11 few Stovepipe Wells Village, Death Valley; 14/11 several Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley; 17/11 4+ Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay

Hutton's Vireo 22/11 1 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

Purple Finch 11/11 common Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP

House Finch 31/10 common Regency Drive, Clayton; 5/11 1 between Mitchell & White Canyons, Mount Diablo SP; 9/11 2 Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County & few La Purisima Mission State Park, Lompoc; 15/11 5 Jawbone Canyon, Kern County; 16/11 several Carrizo Plain; several Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay

Lesser Goldfinch 1/11 1 Regency Drive, Clayton & 2+ Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 11/11 6+ Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP

American Goldfinch 3/11 3 Regency Drive, Clayton; 17/11 30+ Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay; 18/11 1 Pinnacles National Monument; 20/11 few Golden Gate Park, San Francisco; 25/11 15+ Regency Drive, Clayton

Northern Parula 11/11 1 Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP

Yellow-rumped Warbler 31/10 8+ Regency Drive, Clayton; 7/11 common along walk to Cannery Row, Monterey; 8/11 1 by CA1 between Monterey & Morro Bay; 9/11 common La Purisima Mission State Park, Lompoc; 10/11 several Refugio State Beach, Santa Barbara County; 11/11 abundant Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP; 17/11 2+ Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay; 20/11 common Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Townsend's Warbler 20/11 1 Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Common Yellowthroat 10/11 2+ Andree Clark Bird Refuge, Santa Barbara; 17/11 2+ Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay & 2+ Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, Morro Bay

Spotted Towhee 1/11 4 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 5/11 8 Mitchell & White Canyons, Mount Diablo SP; 18/11 1 Pinnacles National Monument; 22/11 2 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

California Towhee 31/10 common Regency Drive, Clayton; 1/11 2 Regency Drive, Clayton & several Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 3/11 2 Regency Drive, Clayton; 5/11 2 Mitchell & White Canyons, Mount Diablo SP; 18/11 4 Pinnacles National Monument; 22/11 1 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 24/11 1 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

Rufous-crowned Sparrow 11/11 1 Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP

Lark Sparrow 16/11 1 Carrizo Plain

Sage Sparrow ("canescens" race) 16/11 common Petroleum Club Road, Taft & Carrizo Plain

Savannah Sparrow 9/11 4 Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 16/11 several Carrizo Plain; 19/11 common Merced National Wildlife Refuge

"Sooty" Fox Sparrow 1/11 3 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

"Slate-colored" Fox Sparrow 1/11 1 Regency Drive, Clayton

"Red" Fox Sparrow 3/11 1Regency Drive, Clayton

Song Sparrow 4/11 1 Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 11/11 1 Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP; 17/11 few Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay; 19/11 few Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Lincoln's Sparrow 22/11 1 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

White-crowned Sparrow 31/10 common Regency Drive, Clayton; 1/11 4 Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 4/11 5+ Limantour Beach, Point Reyes; 5/11 2 Mitchell & White Canyons, Mount Diablo SP; 7/11 1 harbour area, Monterey; 8/11 3+ by CA1 between Monterey & Morro Bay & 6 Piedras Blancas Point area; 10/11 4 Refugio State Beach, Santa Barbara County & 1 Andree Clark Bird Refuge, Santa Barbara; 11/11 several Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP; 14/11 several Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley; 16/11 several Petroleum Club Road, Taft, common Carrizo Plain & several at junction of Pozo Road & CA58; 17/11 common Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay; 18/11 several Pinnacles National Monument; 19/11 common Merced National Wildlife Refuge; 20/11 common Golden Gate Park, San Francisco; 22/11 few Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

Golden-crowned Sparrow 31/10 common Regency Drive, Clayton; 1/11 8 Regency Drive, Clayton & common Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 3/11 3+ Regency Drive, Clayton; 5/11 10+ Mitchell & White Canyons, Mount Diablo SP; 24/11 5+ 5+ Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

Dark-eyed Junco ('Oregon Junco') 31/10 common Regency Drive, Clayton; 11/11 common Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 5/11 12+ Mitchell & White Canyons, Mount Diablo SP; 18/11 2 Pinnacles National Monument; 20/11 8+ Golden Gate Park, San Francisco; 22/11 several Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP; 24/11 10+ Donner Canyon, Mount Diablo SP

Red-winged Blackbird 14/11 4 Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley; 16/11 several along CA58 between McKittrick & Soda Valley Road; 16/11 40+ at junction of Pozo Road & CA58; 19/11 common Merced National Wildlife Refuge & Henry Miller Road, near Merced NWR

Tricolored Blackbird 19/11 few Henry Miller Road, near Merced NWR

Western Meadowlark 9/11 few at junction of Betteravia & Black Roads, near Orcutt; 9/11 3 Andree Clark Bird Refuge, Santa Barbara; 11/11 14+ Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands NP; 14/11 6+ Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley; 15/11 6+ Petroleum Club Road, Taft; 16/11 common Petroleum Club Road, Taft & Carrizo Plain; 19/11 common Merced National Wildlife Refuge

Yellow-headed Blackbird 14/11 1 Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley

Brewer's Blackbird 2/11 common Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco; 4/11 several Point Reyes; 7/11 common harbour area, Monterey; 8/11 common Piedras Blancas Point area; 9/11 common Ocean Beach County Park, Santa Barbara County; 10/11 several Zaca Station Road, Santa Barbara County; 14/11 common Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley; 16/11 common along CA58 between McKittrick & Soda Valley Road & at junction of Pozo Road & CA58; 17/11 common Montana de Oro SP, Morro Bay; 19/11 common Henry Miller Road, near Merced NWR; 20/11 Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Great-tailed Grackle 13/11 common Stovepipe Wells Village, Death Valley & several Furnace Creek Visitor Centre, Death Valley; 14/11 common Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley

Brown-headed Cowbird 16/11 several at junction of Pozo Road & CA58; 19/11 common Henry Miller Road, near Merced NWR

SOME BIRD-FINDING TIPS FOR NOVEMBER

The following are tips and ideas I got from local birders on selected species. Each paragraph relates to comments from a different birder (where appropriate).

White-winged Scoter

Occasionally, they can be found at Moss Landing Harbor between Santa Cruz and Monterey. Black Scoters are less likely there. On your itinerary, the only place with a reasonable chance is Monterey. Ocean Park and Surf Beach, both near the end of Ocean Ave., west of Lompoc, are decent bets, if you miss them further north. Ocean Beach is good for waterfowl when the mouth is blocked, but is more of a shorebird place when it isn't. The scoters would be just offshore. Irruptive species, small number usually present off Toro Creek in Morro Bay. Probably easier further north. Check the Santa Maria River estuary or Santa Ynez River estuary.

Black Scoter

You are at the southern edge of the wintering range for Black Scoter (and White-winged has been scarce in recent years). Also possible, but not very likely, in Ocean Park and Surf Beach

Bufflehead


Should be easy. Try the large lakes at Monterey (El Estero, Laguna Grande); Lake Los Carneros or the Bird Refuge, etc., at Santa Barbara; I'd guess Merced NWR (I just don't remember), Ventura locations, etc. - check the books. Lake Cachuma could have a thousand or so by this time. Guaranteed on Morro Bay and any large reservoir in San Luis Obispo County. Cachuma lake in Santa Barbara County

Common Goldeneye

Many good places in Bay Area and probably Monterey area. Any place with Barrow's should have Common (plus many places that don't have Barrow's). Maybe Cachuma Lake in Santa Barbara County

Barrow's Goldeneye

Lake Merritt in Oakland. Try the inlet (?) channel near Laney College. Lake Merritt - Parking in the parking area between the boathouse and the boating center allows you to find most of the potential birds - goldeneye, bufflehead, and tufted duck - are almost always found in the area near the islands in front of the nature center and can be viewed in a 10 minute walking area. (Although the tufted duck may take quite a bit of searching even when present - a scope is helpful to see all the way out.) There is another area people often check at the other end of the Lake near the inflow channel and on the other side of the road following it towards the Estuary that is a little seamy with a more or less permanent group of homeless - I would be a little more cautious there

Prairie Falcon

Panoche Valley a good bet. Carizzo Plain, Panoche Valley. Small numbers, but a reasonable chance. I saw one about a week ago at Silver Saddle resort at Galileo Hill. Best bet in Southern California is Antelope Valley along Ave. A and Gaskell Rd. between 100th W. and 200th W. The Santa Ynez Valley, from Lake Cachuma west to 101, is good, but you still have to be lucky. Try the open areas. Armour Ranch Rd., near Santa Ynez and just off highway 154, is a good a bet as any. Virtually guaranteed on the Carrizo Plain

Can be seen with relative ease in eastern Santa Barbara County in the Cuyama valley and SLO County in the Carrizo Plain area. A drive up Ballinger Canyon or Quatal Canyon might be a good bet when headed toward Maricopa. Very regular in the Cuyama Valley and the Carrizo Plain

Pacific Golden Plover

Can usually be found on the Oxnard Plain in Ventura County. While in Ventura, try the sod farms on Casper and Arnold roads and Hueneme Rd. at Casper.

Mountain Plover

In serious decline, rarely found in Panoche Valley. More reliable in central valley locations north and south of Davis. On your itinerary, there may still be a good flock on Carizzo Plain. Check with the San Luis Obispo Co. RBA (someone might conceivably report on a trip) or with locals in that county).

Occurs on the Carrizo Plains and also usually on the Oxnard Plain in Ventura County off either Arnold or Casper Road. None accessible in Santa Barbara County. Antelope Valley and Salton Sea spots are probably the best, although they can be found at the Carrizo Plain some years. While in Ventura, try the sod farms on Casper and Arnold roads and Hueneme Rd. at Casper. Can also be found in the above area of Antelope Valley, and on the east side in the area of Ave. M, Ave. N, 50th E. and 100th E. Less regular than they used to be on the Carrizo, but it's still one of the best places to look

Mew Gull

Should be coming in soon. Regular in Golden Gate Park, SF., usually around the Arboreteum Pond. They will be all over the edge of Monterey Bay on your boat trip. Should be easy at most creek mouths in San Luis Obispo County. The Santa Maria sewage plant (601 Black Road) is a guaranteed spot

Thayer's Gull

Easy in the gull roost at Moss Landing harbor. Take Jetty Rd. to the state beach and look down at the roost about halfway along to the end. The Santa Maria dump is good, but the birds are distant. To get here, exit at the Main St. exit, but go east instead of west. The dump is a couple of miles down the road, and pretty obvious. Just pull over by the road and look at the gulls. They're all 1st year birds, usually, so ID is not easy.

Lewis's Woodpecker

A pair of them actually wintered last year in Round Valley Regional Park, which is just East of Clayton. A couple of roads east off highway 101 in northern Santa Barbara Co. (I think Zaca Station Road and Happy Valley Road) may still be good for them, although I haven't been there for years. I don't think Farren Road is a regular spot, but if they are there it will almost certainly be on the Santa Barbara RBA.

Often seen on San Francisquito Canyon Road in northern LA county at Green Valley area. Look for them on the tops of power poles along the highway. Zaca Station is definitely worth a look. Farren Rd. was probably just an oddfall occurrence. Another good area is Figueroa Mtn. Rd. Again, check the hotlines when you come to the area. Zaca Station Road is approximately midway between Santa Barbara in the south county and Santa Maria in the north county off Highway 101. About 8 miles north of the town of Buellton. The turn off to Highway 154 (San Marcos Pass) at 101 is accessible now from a new highway overpass. Zaca Station Road is immediately found from the overpass as you go east on 154. There was major reconstruction of this highway junction most of last year, which included a new bridge to prevent cross traffic from going into the main highway. Once there, ZSR is relatively easy to find. The area about a half-mile to a mile up the road has been good for Lewis's Woodpeckers in recent years.

In Ventura, try Canada Larga. If you come towards LA, also try Cheseboro Canyon off of US-101 in Agoura Hills. Although they are present in San Luis Obispo County, Pozo Road is no longer a sure spot. These birds are nomadic and unpredictable in San Luis Obispo County. I don't think I have ever missed them on Pozo Road between the highway and the CDF facility/fire station. Travelling into Panoche Valley from the north, you will pass a small fire station - it's called the Antelope station. Search this area for Lewis' as it's often productive

Island Scrub Jay

Now back from California and found the Scrub Jays at Scorpion Anchorage very easily about 25 birds. The directions given below by Brad Schram were spot on, although I only saw Orange-crowned Warblers from the list of endemic island subspecies. Hike straight up the drainage/stream bed (an obvious trail parallels it) to a point where it forks into two canyons in the hills. The bird can often be seen upslope from this spot, but at distance. If the birds aren't obvious within ten minutes, hike up the canyon to the right (west) another quarter mile or so to a point where the vegetation, although sparse, is thicker and you have a good vantage point. Squeak, pish, and watch the emergent perches on near and distant oaks. Sooner or later you will see your jay. You may have anxious moments before seeing the bird, but not a serious problem.

Varied Thrush

A possibility in Mitchell Canyon.

Le Conte's Thrasher

I've had luck at Maricopa over the years just by working the habitat, esp. around the water tank. I have seen them in November and have missed them at that date. Vocalizations are not much help at that time of year. I have twice seen this species, out of breeding season, really quite easily at Maricopa. Wake up early, and walk out to the spot indicated in the Lane Guide to SoCal Birding. It is so obvious - by size and pale color- that you know it the minute you see it. I don't think this is an impossible bird, because both times I've gone to look for it, I've found it. Go to Maricopa, along Petroleum Club Rd., to an area where a paved, private road goes off to the west. Both Le Conte's and California are here, so you get a good comparison. Walk around west of the road, and if you don't see them, play your tape. Also, it is essential to get here early. We got them pretty easily on an ABA conference field trip in September, which also shouldn't be a good time to see them. Canescens ssp. of Sage Sparrow is around here, but more east of Petroleum Club. I led a field trip for the American Birding Association Regional Conference just a few weeks ago. In scouting for that trip, on which Le Conte's was a priority, I found a site that resulted in good looks at Le Conte's for four different groups (over 150 birders) during the next two days. Going out of Maricopa north on Highway 33 a little over a mile, turn right on Petroleum Club Road (though rural, this is an ugly, oil-well infested area). Cross Kerto Road, then watch for a small monument on the west side of the road that commemorates the site of the worst "gusher" (out of control oil well) in U.S. history. A few hundred yards beyond the monument (north), watch for an asphalt access road (this is before you reach Cadet Road. Walk west 75 yards on the small asphalt road until you are even with the power pole that has a couple of transformers on it, look to the southwest and play a tape of Le Conte's. A very responsive pair was seen there in September and at least one other bird was on the north side of that asphalt road. I suggest early morning. Beware that there are also California Thrashers in the same location

Once in Maricopa, you need to go down Petroleum Club Rd. There are a couple of streets that runs perpendicular to PCR. The first one you come to has a pull off at the NE corner of the road. If you walk through this field, there are at least 2 or 3 thrasher territories. We arrived shortly after daybreak and had them within about 15 minutes. Just walk diagonally across this field and watch for them to pop up onto the brush

The Hardy tape "All the Mockingbirds and Thrashers" has the Le Conte's call note on it, and it is represented as a rising, two-noted "cho-KEE!" In the field I've heard the call note slurred more, sounding very much like the rising whistle of a Phainopepla

The two most reliable places in SoCal are in Palmdale (Joshua Tree forest near Division St. & Ave. O) and Taft (corner of Cadet and Petroleum Club).

'Bell's' Sage Sparrow

Bell's Sparrows have been fairly reliable the past few years in White Canyon in Mt. Diablo State Park. White Canyon is a side canyon off Mitchell Canyon, which is an easy walk from Donner Canyon. Can be found in the Santa Barbara area and Santa Maria area I believe. As I recall it is in a Birder's Guide to Socal Backbone Trail above Circle X Ranch in eastern Ventura Co. Take PCH to Yerba Buena Rd. (at Neptune's Net Restaurant). Go north. Continue past the Circle X HQ until you see a parking lot entrance on the left after a sharp left-hand hairpin turn. Park here and hike up the hill. If you get to the T in the trail, go right. Best in early morning.