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A Report from

California, 7th –23rd September 2007,

Simon Hartill, Southampton and Alan Baxter, Epsom, UK



We booked our British Airways Flights and Hire car with Trailfinders.

£520 each for the BA Flight into San Francisco flew back from LA.

The hire car we booked was a group C4 with Alamo, £150 each. However upon arrival at the SanFran hire car centre, accessed by monorail from the Arrivals Terminal, the guy in the hire car place said we could choose any car from 2 rows of about 40 vehicles.

One car stood out from the crowd, a Pontiac Grand Prix GT 4 Door Saloon supercharged 3.8 litre engine with twin exhausts. Went like s””t off a shovel!! A great car for our 2300 mile road trip, although it only averaged 21 mpg. It handled pretty well for an American car, although the automatic gearbox sometimes had a mind of its own!! However you could select a gear for the hairpin bends and floor it on the straights, a real American muscle car!!! About the same size as a Ford Mondeo. 0-60 in 7 seconds, we know because we tried it!! Electric everything and heated seats to keep our bums warm in the early mornings around Yosemite. Gas prices varied between $2.85 per American gallon near San Fran up to $3.70 at Lee Vining. We spent $300 on fuel between us.


We booked hotels for the first 10 days over the internet. Monterey, Point Reyes, Mono Lake area and Yosemite can get very busy, especially at weekends. The rest of the trip we just found hotels as and when, never had a problem finding one in southern California.


We used the Where to watch birds in Southern and Northern California Schram et al + 4-5 Trip Reports gleaned off the net. The Birdfinders and Birdseekers itineraries were useful. In fact we bumped into the Birdfinders group at Glacier Point led by James Smith, a friend of mine from my days as a volunteer raptor surveyor in Israel, in the early 1990s.

I purchased a reasonable map from Waterstones in the UK, although it wasn’t that detailed. Free maps were available from many of the hotels we stayed at that were more detailed, essential for navigating your way through LA!! The site maps in the guide books were very useful. We used the Geoffrey Keller California bird call CDs. I put them onto my laptop and changed them to mp3 files and downloaded them onto my amazing very small Samsung i6 digital camera. Just plugged in a speaker and my little camera worked as an MP3 player!!

It wasn’t that long ago that I was using tapes and “fiddle farting” about with rewinding and fast forwarding, how things have improved for the better!! A tiny camera, 6 megapixels for digiscoping, recording and play back that fits in your shirt top pocket!!

Friday 7th      

Left Southampton Coach Station at 9.30am arrived Heathrow 11.20am. A bargain, National Express Fanfare Ticket only £2 return!! Met Alan at the airport.

We departed Heathrow at 1350 on BA287 Jumbo Jet to SF  Arrived at  1640 their time. About a 10 hour flight. Picked up our Alamo Hire car and drove north through the busy rush hour San Francisco traffic at 6.30pm. We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge in daylight, no fog, splendid views and north up the San Andreas Fault twisty, winding road the 60 miles to Inverness arrived at the Golden Hinde Hotel in Inverness at 9.30pm. We stopped on the way for food.

Golden Hinde Hotel $217.8 for 2 nights. Reserved on Credit card    

Tel: 800 339 9398  12938 Sir Francis Drake Blvd  CA 94937    

We were allocated a spacious cabin with a kitchenette. The bushes/trees around the parking lot and road were good for migrants.

Sat 8th         

We awoke to drizzly, overcast, fairly cold weather. Birding around the cabin produced our first lifers, Anna’s Hummers, Townsend’s , Black throated Grey Warblers, Stellers Jays, CB Chickadees, Huttons Vireo.

We drove  to the Inverness Grocery Store and bought breakfast, checking out the lagoon which had Hermann’s, American Herring and Western Gulls, RN Phalaropes, Least and Western Sands, Acorn Pecker  and GN Divers.

Enjoyed a fry up for breakfast back at the cabin.

We birded the approach road to Tomales State Park but didn’t go in as the warden at the gate reckoned that we wouldn’t see our target bird of Spotted Owl.  Rufous Hummer, Coopers Hawk, Swainsons thrush, Warbling Vireo and Hairy Pecker seen.

Abbott’s Lagoon

We went here on the advice of a local birder we met at the grocery store. WC, Savannah, Song Sparrows, Killdeers, WT Kite, Black Pheobe, Western Scrub Jay, Barn Owl perched up, Cinammon Teals, Western Grebes and 2 Clark’s Grebes our target bird here. Loads of BN Grebes, 100+ RN Phalaropes, Elegant terns, 2 Bairds Sands, 50 Westerns.  Off the beach Black and Surf Scoters, 8 Pacific Divers.

100+ Sooty Shears, Brandt’s Cormorants, Arctic Skua. California Gulls. Also Yellow and Wilsons Warblers on the walk from the car park to the lagoon. There were quite a few American birders here including a local ABA group from San Fran.

Point Reyes

We stopped at various farmsteads on the way looking for the localised  Tricoloured Blackbird, eventually 1 definite was identified amongst the hordes of common Red-winged Blackbirds.        

Calif SeaLions, Cassin’s Auklet, Pigeon Guillemot, California Quails, Townsends Warblers, dipped a reported Mourning Warbler seen 30 mins before in the trees before the lighthouse.

Sun 9th           

Early morning around the woodland by the hotel proved productive. Mild and overcast. A calling Pygmy Owl eluded us. Acorn Peckers, Brown Creeper, 5+ Townsends, Huttons Vireos, Red-breasted Nuthatch, BTGrey, Yellow warblers, Band tailed pigeons, great views of a really close pair of Wrentits, Night Heron, Spotted Towhee, Junco.

The Bear Valley Visitor Centre only produced 7 Pygmy Nuthatch and a curious Golden-crowned Kinglet in 30 mins so we left.

Bolinas Lagoon - High tide, huge numbers of roosting birds

Marbled Godwit 200+, LB Curlews, Elegant Terns 1000+, Willets, 2 Ospreys, Common seals, Pintail 500+, 2 Western and 1 Clarke’s Grebe, Red-n-Phalaropes 400+, 100 s of Am Wigeon and 1 Ruddy Duck.

Drove to Mariposa, took 5 hours or so. Interstate 580 East, to State Highway 132 East, to State Highway 99 South, to State Highway 140 East, to the town of Mariposa. Mariposa Lodge is on the right at 5052 Highway 140. Room Rate $79 a night + tax for 2 queen sized beds twin room Paid on arrival.

25 miles from Yosemite, 40 min drive up the winding road alongside the Merced River. We stayed here because it was significantly cheaper than the 2 motels near the park entrance. All the cabins in the park were already booked when we tried 5 months before. However with hindsight we would have preferred to have stayed in the Park to save the long drive to and fro. If you bring camping equipment, camp in the Park. If you want a cabin book well ahead!!

Mon 10th

Yosemite NP, Valley, Glacier Point, Warm sunny

We scored 2 American Dippers just inside the Park Entrance then drove up to Glacier Point. Stupendous views, simply stunning well worth the drive up and hordes of tourists.

It had taken us far longer than expected to get to the point due to long drive, awesome views and slow American drivers. There was also plenty of stopping for fly-over woodpeckers, the only ones positively id’d were Hairy’s. Mountain Chickadees, 10+ White-throated Swifts, pair of Cassin’s Finches were all lifers.

It was getting too warm for really productive birding by the time we got to the point, birds were fairly hard to come by but with persistence a few good birds gave themselves up - Goshawk, A juv Lewis’s Woodpecker flew over the viewpoint then perched up, Canyon Wren, close fly-by Townsend’s Solitaire, Clark’s Nutcracker, Am Robins.

Fairly quiet (apart from the people!!) in the Valley so we tried Chevron Meadow at 17:00.

On arrival the GREAT GREY OWL was perched up and gave excellent scope views, even managed a few photos with my small digital camera hand held onto my scope. It was only 150 feet away in view for 15 mins or so. It flew off up the Meadow and showed a few more times. An excellent end to a great days hiking and birding. Drove back down to the Mariposa Lodge.

Tues 11th

Yosemite NP, Glacier Point, Warm, sunny

We drove back up to Glacier Point, this time arriving earlier than yesterday. We birded the fire road 1 mile before the view point and scored with 7 Mountain Quail cracking views down to 10m. Really chuffed with the views of this tough bird we barely had time to draw breath when a very obliging White-headed Woodpecker landed in the tree right next to us and performed well for 20+ mins. Continuing on we came across a roving flock of 14 Western Bluebirds, WH Nuthatch, 3 Townsend’s Solitaire, 3 Rock Wrens.

At the far end of the Glacier Point car park we found 2 Blue (Sooty) Grouse a male and female, unobtrusively walking slowly around the woodland floor below the car park, we could almost see them from the car!! Excellent views. Also seen 1 Vaux’s Swift picked out in amongst the White-throated’s,
Olive-sided Flycatcher, Northern Flickers.

Blue Grouse

McGurk Meadow Trail - v.quiet!!

Nashville, YR Warblers

Bridaveil Camp Ground approach road, the camp was closed.

We hit gold by a little creek which passed under the approach road in the heat of the day. The water attracted a flock of warblers that included 6 Nashville, 6 Orange crowned, 1m 1f Black-throated grey, 1f + 1m stunning Hermit, 25+ Yellow-rumped, 1m Townsend’s Warblers.  Also Hairy Woodpeckers and Brown Creepers.

As it was hot and Alan wanted to send an e-mail home we returned early to the hotel at 3.30pm. A pit-stop by the main road along the Merced river turned up the only Dusky Flycatcher of the trip feeding with a flock of 10 Bushtits. There was a distinct lack of Internet Cafes in California as everyone seems to use wireless broadband on their laptops in hotels, not much good unless you have a laptop!! Luckily at Mariposa Library you can use the internet free and send e-mails

I retired to the hotel swimming pool and Jacuzzi with a cold beer. An excellent Rack of Ribs meal in the evening with a bottle of wine.

Weds 12th        

Foresta Road, Yosemite

Peregrine, N Flickers, 2 Red-breasted Sapsucker showed well at the campground. Hairy and Acorn Peckers, Western Bluebird and Chipping Sparrow.

Chevron Meadow

Alive with birds which including Northern Flickers, 2 White-headed Woodpeckers, Western Wood-pewee, Townsend’s Solitaire on the ground being hassled by Orange-crowned warblers, great views of 3 fly-over Clark’s Nutcrackers, 1m Black-throated Grey Warbler. Spent some time watching/digi-scoping a family of 4 very obliging Lewis’s Woodpeckers.

Tamarack Flat, birded the approach road to the camp site.

Close to the start of the track a pit-stop produced 2 Cassin’s Finch and simply stunning views of White-headed Woodpecker - no need for bins!! A few stops later c1.5miles along track a Williamson’s Sapsucker came into its playback call and allowed cracking views, also excellent close views of a curious Red-breasted Sapsucker. This morning was turning into a woodpecker extravaganza!!

White Wolf 500m along approach road to the campsite.

A random pit-stop (it pays to keep drinking loads!!) at a clearing along the track produced the toughest of all the parks woodpeckers, Black-backed Woodpecker, that came into its playback call and, although flighty, it showed well. Wow!! 8 SPECIES OF WOODPECKER IN ONE MORNING!!

We then drove up the scenic and windy mountain road towards Lee Vining, birding en-route.

Saddlebag Lake

We circumnavigated the lake quite a long, but enjoyable, walk seeing Clark’s Nutcracker over the car park, Mountain Bluebird, Red-tailed and Coopers Hawks, Orange-crowned Warblers, fairly quiet bird-wise. With hindsight we would have got the boat to the far end of the lake and attempted the WT Ptarmigan. Enjoyed a tea and chocolate cake at the excellent little café with bear paw prints on the windows, a visitor last night! We checked into the pre-booked . Murphey's Motel P.O. Box 57 Lee Vining, CA  93541(760) 647-6316  (800) 334-6316  reserved with c/c pay on arrival, need to arrive by 8pm to get keys.

Rate of $103.00 plus 12% room tax per night for a twin 2 queen sized beds, a nice room. Most of the hotels here were full, so we were glad we pre-booked.

Thurs 13th     

We got up early and drove to Bodie the ghost town museum to the north of Mono. En route we saw a Common Poorwill on the road that flew up in our headlights. There was no sign of the Sage Grouse around Bodie. (It was prohibited to actually enter the town till the official opening time).

We went back Lee Vining for breakfast then onto the 120 Road nr S.Tufa for high altitude desert plateaux species and onto the conifer forest and Sagehen Summit 8000 feet up. On the way we stopped in the pinyon forest to have a look for the jays, but had no luck finding them. There were plenty of other birds around: Black-billed Magpie, Pygmy and White-breasted Nuthatches, Mountain Bluebirds 15+ Clark’s Nutcrackers. Best bird was a smart Prairie Falcon that circled above us. At the summit birding was slow but we eventually managed to locate 2 smart (Saltbrush) Sage Sparrows (came into playback) along with 4 dull Brewer’s Sparrows. Late morning at South Tufa Beach produced 3 hoped for Sage Thrashers feeding on the millions of brine flies along the shore along with Vesper, Savannah Sparrows, Phalaropes, Black-necked Grebes, Osprey, Northern Harrier, Brewers Blackbirds, 2 Violet-green Swallows.

After a siesta made the short drive to Mono Lake Park just outside Lee Vining and birded the boardwalk. Sora Rail, Coopers Hawk, Orange-crowned, Yellow and YR Warblers. Good variety of wading birds including 5000+ Phalaropes!! Back at the car park we had poor views of 10 Pinyon Jays flying over.

Wilsons Phalarope

We decided to try again for Sage Grouse, this time at Crowley Lake to the south of Mono.  Turned off the main road north of the lake then drove down a dirt road just beyond the animal hospital and swimming pool 6-7pm and headed down towards the lake.  We saw at least 65 Sage Grouse in excellent light, very easy to spot. One flock contained c40 birds flying low over the sage brush others were scattered in the cow fields. Also seen were our first Western Meadowlarks, 5 N.Harrier, 4 Black-billed Magpies plus a wily Coyote.

Fri 14th           

We visited Mono Lake Country Park again 7.20-9.30am. The main highlight was good views of small flocks of Pinyon Jays numbering at least 80 passing overhead. Bewick’s, Marsh Wrens, Red-breasted Sapsucker, 3 Vaux’s Swift, Am Robins, Flicker and 2 very active Grey Flycatchers. At the lake we saw: Caspian Tern 3, Am Black Tern, 10,000+ RN Phalaropes, Chipping, Lincolns, White crowned and Savannah Sparrows. An immature Pomarine Skua cruised past harassing the waders unexpectedly. 4 Wilson’s Snipes, Am Avocets, 100s of California Gulls.

We packed up back at the hotel then drove for 5.5 hours to Salinas, the nearest large town near Monterey Bay. Arrived at 5.15pm.

Overnight  Good Nite Inn Salinas, 15 miles from Monterey, £110 for 3 nights booked it on expedia      Standard twin Two Double Bedded Room, Breakfast not included.            

Salinas, CA 93901

We chose to stay in Salinas as it was the closest town with reasonably priced motels. Monterey was triple this price. However it didn’t feel a safe area with roaming Hispanic gangs, drive-by shootings occur here. Our guide on the boat recommended Watsonville which has a Motel 6, a little further from Monterey , similar price to Salinas but a much nicer town.

Sat 15th               Albacore 12 Hr Pelagic need to arrive at harbour at 5am

Below are the joining details and Trip Report written by Roger Wolfe the boat’s bird guide.

2 Excellent Pelagics ticks galore!!

Sept. 15, 2007 (Saturday, $125)
TIME 5:30 CHECK IN 5:00 Your credit card is used just to hold the spots, you pay however you want when you check in. Please check in at Monterey Bay Whale Watch Center one half hour before your departure time. Monterey Bay Whale Watch Center is located on Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey. Park in the main Fisherman's Wharf lot, where you take a ticket from the machine and the gate comes up. Then walk down the wharf, with all the restaurants and shops, near the end of wharf turn to the right and you will see Monterey Bay Whale Watch Center, formerly called Sam's Fishing Fleet, its a red building - Please do not get confused with any other places. Dress warm, if you need seasick medicine take it in advance or buy it at here. We have a 24 hr cancellation policy, if you need to cancel you must call us at least 24 hours in advance to avoid the total trip charge. If you have a question about the weather, please call us before you leave to check on weather status, we do not hold you to the 24 cancellation if weather is a factor. It is best to wait until day of trip as weather forecasts can be unpredictable. We may cancel trips due to weather (even last minute, as conditions can change quickly), or undersubsription. We will attempt to call you asap if a trip is cancelled. Or, you can call us to check on weather at 831-375-4658.

Pelagic Trip Report by Roger Wolfe Guide onboard

There are pelagic birding trips that are etched in my memory. Maybe it was a rarity we saw or my first encounter with a new species. This particular trip goes down in my book as the best marine mammal trip I've ever been on. Given, it was a seabirding trip and we did see some great birds but the rare cetaceans are what will resonate in my memory. Richard Ternullo, who has more experience on the Monterey Bay than anyone when it comes to dolphins and whales, agrees. After leaving the dock before the break of dawn we motor out with everyone comfortably seated and as it begins to get light we begin seabirding in earnest. SOOTY SHEARWATERS are soon joined by PINK-FOOTED and BULLER'S. There is a drop in engine sound and rpm, which usually indicates our skipper has seen something. Over the P.A. Richard reports, "There's some PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED DOLPHINS and some kind of whale over here. I think it may be a SEI WHALE." This is exciting; it is only the third time he's seen one in Monterey Bay. The last time was on one of our seabird trips on October 13, 2002. The Sei Whale resurfaces and blows for all to see. At this point we are only 3.5 nmi. offshore. We spot our first POMARINE JAEGER soon after.

I'm up on the bow fielding questions about our marine mammals with some visiting Brits and one of them asks me, "Do you ever see Cuvier's Beaked Whales?" As the words begin to leave mouth I look past him and say, "There's one right there! CUVIER'S BEAKED WHALE! This is my first one but I recognize the distinctive rusty brown coloration right away. We do manage a few pics too. We are only 6 nmi. offshore and we've just seen two of the rarest cetaceans in Monterey Bay! DALL'S PORPOISES come in and ride our bow for the next act and as we move farther offshore we find our first BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS, SABINE'S GULL and PARASITIC JAEGERS for the day. Before we've even made it into the blue water we see ALBACORE TUNA or "jumpers" as the fisherman like to call them. Up ahead we see a bird pecking at some of the tuna boiling at the surface and when we get closer we see that it is a SOUTH POLAR SKUA trying to take on the tuna. We see four on the day. The RED-NECKED PHALAROPES we've been seeing are replaced by RED PHALAROPES as we move offshore. At the back of the boat Dan Singer spots a few ARCTIC TERNS. We draw closer to the blue water and find the migratory corridor for LONG-TAILED JAEGERS. We see 33 in total and some right over our heads. "Murrelet!" is called out and everyone manages to get on it right next to the boat. When it takes flight we see the white underwing of a XANTUS'S MURRELET. We make the obligatory Mola Mola or Ocean Sunfish stop for the largest one I've yet seen, about half the size of a VW Bug. We also see several BLUE SHARKS and Don Roberson spots a PACIFIC SWORDFISH.

The water is now translucent blue and from the bow I spot a single common dolphin come in to ride the bow. Soon it is joined by others. The visibility is fantastic and it is a delight to watch them below the surface. These are SHORT-BEAKED COMMON DOLPHINS. When we reach a point about 45 miles offshore we start heading back and find some COMMON TERNS along the way. We have also seen several fly-by ASHY STORM-PETRELS. Alcids are scarce with a dozen RHINOCEROS AUKLETS and 8 CASSIN'S AUKLETS along with a few COMMON MURRES for the day. We do quite well in the pinniped department with sighting of a pair of NORTHERN FUR SEALS. Richard says this is the first time he's seen two of these together. A large male ELEPHANT SEAL is bottling at the surface and of course there are many CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS. Add HARBOR SEALS and that makes 4 species. Then as we are heading back for the bay Richard announces that he sees a pod of BAIRD'S BEAKED WHALES blowing in unison just ahead. He turns up the gas and we manage to get nice looks at these rarely seen whales. All on board are shaking their heads, and I hear the word incredible repeated by several of the 17 participants we have on board today. I hear it even more when we come upon a couple of HUMPBACK WHALES that start the show with pec slapping but finish it off with a series of out of the water breaches right beside our boat. Everyone is, well, incredulous. Also seen:

Roger Wolfe for Monterey Seabirds

Sun 16th    8 Hour Sea Canyon Pelagic

Sep. 16, 2007 (Sunday, $85)
TIME 7:30 CHECK IN 7:00

We don't mess around this morning. The weather forecast is for the wind to pick up in the afternoon. Our quest this day is for the storm-petrel flocks, which can be very difficult to find in windy conditions or choppy seas. We leave the harbor in a hurry to make a run for the north coast of Santa Cruz to an area known as "the Fingers". These are a series of parallel sea canyons - Ascension, Año Nuevo and Cabrillo Canyons.


Bairds beaked Whales                                          Humpback Whale

Motoring along we see SOOTY and PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER veering about. Our skipper today is David Lemon and when he cuts the engine speed he tells us there is a pod of BAIRD'S BEAKED WHALES blowing at the surface just ahead. This is remarkable seeing these animals on two consecutive days. We manage to get fairly close to this pod of 15 but they dive and often stay down as long as 45 minutes. We figure that was that but all of a sudden another group of 7 are blowing right next to our boat! They come even closer for the best looks ever at these strange looking cetaceans about which very little is known. Bob Flood is on board again today and he smiles with his video camera in hand, "Well, we can go home now. That was fantastic!" I know he's kidding; he's on a mission to videotape storm-petrels. Bob is well known in England where he leads pelagic birding trips off the Isles of Scilly. Perhaps his greatest claim to fame is the rediscovery of the thought to be extinct New Zealand Storm-Petrel in the Hauraki Gulf. Crossing the bay I'm distraught about the conditions but as the day progresses the weather lays down a bit. We find a few SABINE'S GULL, RHINOCEROS AUKLET, COMMON MURRE and BULLER'S SHEARWATER. A single NORTHERN FULMAR flies up our wake as do a few BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS to investigate the popcorn and anchovy chum being dispensed by Jim Alford. PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED and NORTHERN RIGHT WHALE DOLPHIN come in to ride our bow. POMARINE and PARASITIC JAEGER and SOUTH POLAR SKUA parallel the boat for some nice looks. We also find both NORTHERN FUR SEAL and an ELEPHANT SEAL napping at the surface. When we come to a spot known as "the Bump" we start seeing ASHY-STORM PETRELS and Tim Amaral spots a WILSON'S STORM-PETREL too. These fly by storm-petrels are frustrating. Some of our passengers are having difficulty seeing them. I tell them to wait until we find the flocks and they will surely get some glass on them. As we draw close to the coastline north of Santa Cruz the wind lays down and conditions are now conducive to finding the flocks. We come to a long band of shearwaters resting on the water and spend a fair amount of time sorting through them but find nothing out of the ordinary.

Black footed Albatross

The search continues until finally off of Davenport we find the flock of stormies. They all appear to be ASHY but then we spot at least one WILSON'S and a single FORK-TAILED STORM PETREL. We spend the next hour combing through the restless flocks. We lay down a slick of cod liver oil and BLACK-STORM PETREL suddenly appear. Some of them come very close to the boat and the photographers on board report getting their best shots ever. Too soon it is time to head back for the Monterey Harbor. Just off Pt. Pinos we stumble upon a small pod of RISSO'S DOLPHINS. It has been quite a weekend. Those who came out on both of our trips saw a total of a dozen different types of marine mammals and an excellent cross-section of seabirds - END

Fantastic way to spend the weekend, the boat trips were the primary reason that we came to California at this time of year and they certainly lived up to expectation!! After a short drive along the Monterey peninsula we stopped at a rocky shoreline and found the first Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone and Surfbirds of the trip. Finished the weekend off in style at a superb out of town fish restaurant.

Mon 17th        

We drove from Salinas to Pinnacles West N.Monument the weather this morning was very hot and the park was certainly suffering from lack of rain and was fairly quiet. The approach road produced Say’s Pheobes, Scrub Jays, pair of California Thrashers, California and Spotted Towhees, Lesser Goldfinch, Road Runner.  After an hours walk bird-wise all we saw were our first Oak Titmouse - 5+, WB Nuthatch and  Wrentits but the lack of birds was compensated for by the scenery.

California Thrasher

It was now getting too hot so we returned to Salinas then back to Monterey and down the famous Route 1 past Carmel to Andrew Molera State Park. Nuttall’s Woodpecker showed well in the large trees around the Big Sur Ornithology Lab.

Pfeiffer Big Sur Park, Bixby Bridge area. We scanned the ridgeline in vain for C.Condors in the evening RS Hawks, WT Kites, 6 Band-tailed Pigeons and 6 Wild Turkeys. Overnight at the overpriced Fernside Motel wood cabins $137 for a small cabin but good food in the restaurant.

Tues 18th

It was a bit foggy first thing, burnt off by about 10.00. Acting on a local tip-off  we drove south for 5 miles and parked up at a pull in, above the cliffs near the Coast Gallery. Excellent very close views of 2 Adult and 4 Immature California Condors. Right overhead, huge, majestic birds in flight.

California Condor

We drove south along the spectacular Route 1 Coastal Highway enjoying the views and our cars phenomenal acceleration to overtake the lumbering Winnebago’s!!

Saw another imm California Condor soaring over the beach close to San Simeon.

We drove through the quaint Danish style town to Alisal Canyon, no luck with our target spp, here so on to Nojoqui Falls Park 5-6pm Excellent close views of Yellow-billed Magpie around the picnic areas. The place was also stuffed full of Acorn Woodpeckers, at least 20 round the car park area!! Drove onto Ventura, overnight in a Motel 6, a very reasonable $66 a night for a nice twin


Yellow-billed Magpie

Weds 19th      

The day dawned drizzly and miserable. We drove down to the harbour to investigate the Santa Cruz Island   boat.  However if we decided to go we would have to spend the whole day on the island almost. It was very dreary, rough weather so the chance of Blue Whale was small.

We decided not to bother for the Island Scrub-Jay, we could easily visit again if passing through LA in the future. A suitable visit to do with a non-birding spouse!!

Boat Info below

Santa Cruz Island is located about 20 miles from the mainland coast, and travel time from Ventura Harbor on one of our swift catamarans is only one hour to east Santa Cruz Island Scorpion Anchorage, or one hour and twenty minutes to Mid Santa Cruz Island Prisoners Harbor. Being the largest Channel Island, Santa Cruz is also the most diverse with interesting geological features including two mountain ranges, many canyons and a rugged shoreline. At least 600 plant species, well over 120 species of land birds including the endemic Island scrub jay, and a vast expanse of wilderness area exist for the curious to explore For Ventura Harbor Departures, 1691 Spinnaker Drive, Suite 105B

Southbound 101: Take Seaward Ave. exit. Turn left on Harbor Blvd. Go approximately 1 ¾ miles, turn right onto Spinnaker Dr. We are ½ mile in on Spinnaker Dr. on the right.

The Reserve proper held: 4 Cedar Waxwing, RB Sapsucker, Yellow, Wilson’s Warbler, 10+ Western Tanager feeding on palm berries, Yellow-breasted Chat, Common Yellowthroat.  A pair of Virginia Rails showed well in response to playback from the boardwalk. Brewer’s, Black-throated and 1 Sage Sparrow from the Yucca Ridge Trail. Pacific-Slope, Vermillon Fly and 4 Vaux’s Swifts in the recreation ground next door. We were told that Red-naped Sapsucker had been seen that morning here, but we couldn’t find it.   We drove south to Brawley south of the Salton Sea arriving quite late but seeing a Lesser Nighthawk in the fading light. Overnight in the Desert Motel a bargain $60 for a nice twin with AC and fridge.

Thurs 20th     

Woke up early and immediately 2 Gila Woodpeckers on a telegraph post in the car park of our motel was a good start.

On to Finey Lake at 7am nice and cool early on. We were lucky with the weather as the previous week had been very hot 110 F!!  Maximum temperature we encountered at Salton Sea was only 86 F midday. We dipped Crissal Thrasher despite using playback not a peep!! but saw Abert’s Towhee, Green Herons, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Lesser Nighthawk, Say’s Phoebe, Peregrine and large flocks of water birds leaving their roosts.

At the Wister Unit saw N.Harriers, 2 Verdins, Abert’s Towhee and Black-tailed Gnatcatcher -one back for Alan, I saw these in Texas 2005. 4 of the Bell’s race of Sage Sparrow were also logged.

Bombay Beach, a ramshackle trailer-park town.

Parked near the marina and came up trumps with excellent views of 7 Yellow-footed Gulls, 100 Black Terns, SB Dowitchers, Ring-billed and Laughing Gull and a whole assortment of waders, 400 Caspian Terns. Back in Brawley we drove around the intersection of Webster Road and Brandt Road, just west of the town centre. Cassin’s and Western Kingbird perched on wires close to each other enabling a good comparison. Lark Sparrows, Inca Dove and 3 Gila Woodpeckers. Cattle Call Park revealed Warbling vireo, Abert’s Towhee, Gila Pecker.

Late afternoon we drove down towards Red Hill Marina. The fields en route held 250+ Shore Larks and Burrowing Owl.

Burrowing Owl

Red Hill Marina - take the left fork towards the end:

Skimmers -30, huge numbers of wildfowl mostly Shovelers, egrets and waders, 300+ Marbled Godwits, 150+ Am Avocets, 1500+ Caspian Terns, 100+ Forster’s, 150+ Laughing Gulls, 15 Yellow footed Gulls. Evening light was perfect.

Fri 21st           

As it was raining we decided not to return to Red Hill Marina as the dirt roads would be treacherous. Headed north west to Borrego Springs. It was dry here, although threatening rain and rather cool in the overcast conditions. Dipped on Crissal Thrasher again at a stakeout mentioned in Where to watch birds in S.California. At the State Park + area, Cactus Wren, Costa’s Hummers, Black tailed Gnatcatcher, Rock Wren, White-winged Dove, Ash-t Fly, Roadrunner, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Vaux‘s and White-throated Swifts. No luck with Gambels Quail or Phainapepla.

Cactus Wrens

We drove to the coast and up to LA. We decided to stay midway between the airport and Palo Verdes Peninsular at Redondo Beach. We splurged out on a very nice room at the Best Western Motel next to the marina, $190.

Driving along the 7 lane highway through LA was an experience, definitely recommend the toll roads, very good and fast. It also helps to have 2 in the car as you can avail yourselves of the multi occupancy fast lane.

Sat 22nd

This was our final day in California, just enough time to bird the Palos Verdes Peninsular in the morning. This proved to be a very posh neighbourhood of big houses with sea-views.

We attempted to lure out California Gnatcatchers at Forestal Drive, mentioned in the guide book, but no luck despite 2 hours of trying and scaling the steep wooded ravines. However a perched up Great Horned Owl was nice.

We sea-watched off Point Vicente parking lot. A superb sea-watch, why can’t Hurst Spit in Hampshire be as good as this!! 2000+ Black vented Shearwaters streaming past, 6+ Pom Skua inc one with spoons, 8 Arctic Skuas, Hermanns Gulls.

Also 80+ Common Dolphins, 10+ Pacific White sided Dolphins.

We returned to the hotel for lunch and packed up our things to drive the 30minutes to LAX Airport.

Dropped off the hire car shuttle bus to terminal for our 1750 BA282 Flight home.


In summary an excellent, very enjoyable birding holiday. We drove 2300 miles in 15 days. I had 78 lifers, 238 species in total.

Total Cost of holiday all in, was £1500 each, excellent value helped by the favourable exchange rate of 1.95 $ to the £.

Sunday 23rd          Arrived Heathrow  at midday UK time National Express  coach back home to Southampton.

California Bird List

Pacific Diver Gavia pacifica

8 off Abbott’s Lagoon - Point Reyes

Great Northern Diver Gavia immer

1 over Inverness, P.Reyes. 1 off Point Vicente.

Pied-billed Grebe  Podilymbus podiceps

2 Abbott’s Lagoon

Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis

1 Abbott’s Lagoon. 1000s Mono Lake

Western Grebe Aechmophorus occidentalis

10+ Abbott’s Lagoon. 2 Bolinas Lagoon. Few Salton Sea area

Clark's Grebe Aechmophorus clarkii

2 Abbott’s Lagoon. 1 Bolinas Lagoon.

Black-footed Albatross Phoebastria nigripes

3 seen both days during Monterey pelagic trips. 15/16th Sep

Northern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis

1 seen during Monterey pelagic trip. 16th Sep

Pink-footed Shearwater Puffinus creatopus

100s seen both days during Monterey pelagic trips.15/16th Sep

Buller's Shearwater Puffinus bulleri

c40 15th & 20+ 16th Sep during Monterey pelagic trips.

Sooty Shearwater  Puffinus griseus

100+ off Abbott’s Lagoon. 1000s seen both days during Monterey pelagic trips. 15/16th Sep.

Black-vented Shearwater Puffinus opisthomelas

2000+ off Point Vicente.

Wilson’s Petrel Oceanites oceanicus

2 seen well during Monterey pelagic trip. 16th Sep

Black Storm-Petrel Oceanodroma melania

40+ seen during Monterey pelagic trip. 16th Sep

Ashy Storm-Petrel Oceanodroma homochroa

1 on 15th, 1000+ 16th Sep during Monterey pelagic trips

Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel Oceanodroma furcata

1 seen briefly by Alan during Monterey pelagic trip, 16th Sep

American White Pelican  Pelecanus erythrorhynchus

Coast, Mono Lake, Salton Sea

Brown Pelican  Pelecanus occidentalis

Coast, Mono Lake, Salton Sea

Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus


Brandt's Cormorant Phalacrocorax penicillatus

Regular along coast

Pelagic Cormorant Phalacrocorax pelagicus

Didn’t bother to look for these Alan saw a few along coast

Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias


Great Egret Egretta alba


Snowy Egret Egretta thula


Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

Salton Sea area

Green Heron Butorides virescens

4 Finney Lakes - Salton Sea

Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax

1 GoldenHinde Inn - Inverness, 4 Morro Bay

White-faced Ibis Plegadis chihi

A few flocks Finney Lakes - Salton Sea

Greater Canada Goose Branta canadensis


American Wigeon Anas americana

100s Bolinas Lagoon

Gadwall Anas strepera

Abbott’s Lagoon. Bolinas Lagoon

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos

Abbott’s Lagoon. Bolinas Lagoon

Northern Pintail Anas acuta

100s Bolinas Lagoon

Cinnamon Teal Anas cyanoptera

2 Abbott’s Lagoon

Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata

Abbott’s Lagoon. Bolinas Lagoon. Mono Lake. 1000s Red Hill Marina

Surf Scoter Melanitta perspicillata

Abbott’s Lagoon

Goosander Mergus merganser

A couple seen along rivers inc Merced on drive to Yosemite.

Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis

1 Bolinas Lagoon

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura


California Condor Gymnogyps californianus

2 Ad + 5 Imm along Big Sur coast

Osprey Pandion haliaetus

Abbott’s Lagoon. Bolinas Lagoon. Mono Lake. Salton Sea

White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus

The odd individual seen near the coast.

Northern Harrier Circus hudsonius

Common Mono Lake, Couple at Salton Sea

Sharp-shinned Hawk Accipiter striatus

Borrego Springs, 1 Palos Verdes Peninsular

Cooper's Hawk  Accipiter cooperii

Tomales State Park, Saddlebag + MonoLake, Big Morongo

Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis

1 Glacier Point - Yosemite

Red-shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus

Regular along Big Sur coast

Swainson's Hawk Buteo swainsoni     

1 Yosemite nr Glacier Point

Red-tailed Hawk  Buteo jamaicensis

Common seen most days

American Kestrel Falco sparverius

Regular seen most days

Prairie Falcon Falco mexicanus

1 on way to Sagehen Summit nr Mono Lake

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus

1 Foresta Road - Yosemite, 1 Finney Lakes

Wild Turkey  Meleagris gallopavo

6 Big Sur coast

Blue Grouse Dendragapus obscurus

1f + 1m just below car park at Glacier Point Yosemite

Greater Sage Grouse Centrocercus urophasianus

c65 Crowley Lake area South of Mono Lake

Mountain Quail Oreortyx pictus

7 along fire road above Glacier Point.

California Quail  Callipepla californica

Common Point Reyes area, Yosemite

Virginia Rail Rallus limicola

Pair boardwalk Big Morongo

Sora Porzana carolina

1 seen Mono Lake Park by boarwalk

American Coot Fulica americana

Few seen

Black Oystercatcher Haematopus bachmani

3 Monterey Peninsula

Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus

100+ Red Hill Marina Salton Sea

American Avocet  Recurvirostra americana

40+ Mono Lake, 100+ Red Hill Marina.

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola

1 Monterey Peninsula, 20+ Red Hill Marina

Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus

Abbott’s Lagoon, Bolinas Lagoon and Salton Sea

Killdeer Charadrius vociferus


Marbled Godwit  Limosa fedoa

Abbott’s Lagoon, Bolinas Lagoon , Morro Bay, 300+ Red Hill Marina

Hudsonian Curlew Numenius hudsonicus

15 Monterey Pelagic 16th Sep

Long-billed Curlew  Numenius americanus

150+ Bolinas Lagoon, Morro Bay

Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca

Abbott’s Lagoon and Salton Sea

Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus

10+ Salton Sea

Willet Catoptrophorus semipalmatus

Regular along coast + Salton Sea

Black Turnstone Arenaria melanocephala

10 Monterey Peninsula

Wilson's Snipe Gallinago delicata

4 Mono Lake

Surfbird Aphriza virgata

4 Monterey Peninsula

Red Knot Calidris canutus

1 Abbott’s Lagoon

Sanderling  Calidris alba

1Bombay Beach - Salton Sea

Western Sandpiper Calidris mauri

40+ Abbott’s Lagoon, Mono Lake and Salton Sea

Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla

100+ Abbott’s Lagoon, Mono Lake and Salton Sea

Baird's Sandpiper Calidris bairdii

2 Abbott’s Lagoon

Wilson's Phalarope Phalaropus tricolor

100+ feeding close to shore both days at Mono Lake

Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus

100s Abbott’s and Bolinas Lagoons. Many 1000s covering Mono Lake common on both days of Monterey Pelagic

Grey Phalarope  Phalaropus fulicarius

Regular far off shore during Monterey pelagics

South Polar Skua Stercorarius maccormicki

4 on 15th & 3 on 16th Sep during Monterey pelagic trips. Cleaned up on the Skuas!!

Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus

1 imm Mono Lake, 15+ on 15th & 6 on 16th Sep during Monterey pelagic trips. 6+ off Point Vicente.

Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus

1 Abbott’s Lagoon, 6+ on 15th & 1 on 16th Sep during Monterey pelagic trips.

Long-tailed Skua Stercorarius longicaudus

10+ seen during Monterey pelagic trip 16th Sep including some with long tails!

Heermann's Gull Larus heermanni

Common along coast

Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis

Regular along coast and  Salton Sea

American Herring Gull Larus Smithsonianus

A few seen in Inverness only ones of whole trip

California Gull Larus californicus

Common especially at Mono Lake

Western Gull Larus occidentalis

Common along coast

Yellow-footed Gull Larus livens

7 Bombay Beach and 15 red Hill Marina Salton Sea

Laughing Gull Larus atricilla

150+ Red Hill Marina

Sabine's Gull Xema sabini

15+ on 15th & 5+ on 16th Sep during Monterey pelagic trips.

Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia

3 Mono Lake, couple of thousand at Salton Sea

Black Tern Chlidonias niger

100+ Bombay Beach Salton Sea

Common Tern Sterna hirundo

3 Mono Lake, 2 Monterey Pelagic 15th Sep

Forster's Tern Sterna forsteri

100+ Red Hill Marina

Elegant Tern Sterna elegans

20+ Abbott’s Lagoon. 1000s Bolinas Lagoon. Seen both days of the Monterey Pelagics

Black Skimmer Rynchops niger

30+ Red Hill Marina

Common Guillemot Uria aalge

30+ Point Reyes, Seen both days of the Monterey Pelagics

Pigeon Guillemot Cepphus columba

3juv and 1ad off Point Reyes

Xantus's Murrelet Synthliboramphus hypoleucus

1 seen during Monterey pelagic trip 15th Sep, far off shore.

Cassin's Auklet Ptychoramphus aleuticus

2 Point Reyes, 10 seen during Monterey pelagic trip 15th Sep

Rhinoceros Auklet Cerorhinca monocerata

10+ both days during Monterey pelagic trips 15/16th Sep

Feral Pigeon Columba livia feral


Band-tailed Pigeon Patagioenas fasciata

1 Inverness - Point Reyes, Regular Big Sur coast

Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura


White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica

2 Borrego Springs

Inca Dove Columbina inca

1 Brawley - Salton Sea

Common Ground-Dove  Columbina passerina

Regular Salton Sea area

Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto

Regular Salton Sea area

Greater Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus

1 Pinnacle National Park, 1 Borrego Springs

Barn Owl Tyto alba

1 at day time roost Abbott’s Lagoon

Great Horned-Owl Bubo virginianus

1 Palos Verdes Peninsular

Great Grey Owl Strix nebulosa

Bird of the trip!! Cracking views at Chevron Meadow Yosemite

Northern Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium californicum (heard only)

One heard 1st morning at Inverness

Burrowing Owl Athene cunicularia

2 on way to Red Hill Marina - Salton Sea

Lesser Nighthawk Chordeiles acutipennis

1 during drive to Brawley, 1 Finney Lakes

Common Poorwill Phalaenoptilus nuttallii

1 in headlights on way to Bodie ghost town nr Mono Lake.

Vaux's Swift Chaetura vauxi

1 Yosemite, 3 Mono Lake. Up to 4 seen every day after Pelagics.

White-throated Swift Aeronautes saxatalis

15 and 6+ at Glacier Point, 14 along road back to Yosemite from Mono lake. 1 Borrego Springs, 2 Point Vicente.

Black-chinned Hummingbird Archilochus alexandri

10+ at feeders, Big Morongo

Anna's Hummingbird Calypte anna

Common Point Reyes area, 25+ at feeders Big Morongo

Costa's Hummingbird Calypte costae

3 at feeders, Big Morongo, 1 at Borrego Springs visitors centre

Rufous Hummingbird Selasphorus rufus

2 Tomales State Park, 10+ at feeders, Big Morongo

Belted Kingfisher Ceryle alcyon

2 Abbott’s Lagoon, 1 Bolinas Lagoon

Lewis's Woodpecker Melanerpes lewis

1 juv Glacier Point, family of 4 Chevron Meadow Yosemite

Acorn Woodpecker  Melanerpes formicivorus

Common especially at Nojoqui falls with 20+ in car park area.

Gila Woodpecker Melanerpes uropygialis

2 on telegraph pole both mornings at Brawley + couple of others nearby.

Red-breasted Sapsucker Sphyrapicus ruber

2 Foresta road,1 Tamarack Flat 2 Mono Country Park, 1 Pinnacles National Park.

Williamson's Sapsucker Sphyrapicus thyroideus

1 cracking bird along Tamarack Flat approach road.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker  Picoides scalaris

1 Finney Lakes - Salton Sea

Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens

Pair in GoldenHinde Inn car park both mornings 4+ in Yosemite first morning

Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus

1 Tomales State Park, regular lower down in Yosemite

Nuttall's Woodpecker Picoides nuttallii

1 Andrew Molera State Park by the ornithology lab, Pair at feeders in Big Morongo

White-headed Woodpecker Picoides albolarvatus

1 fire road above Glacier Point, 2 Chevron Meadow, 1 Tamarack Flat Approach road.

Black-backed Woodpecker Picoides arcticus

1 along White Wolf approach road - what a bonus!!

Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus

The odd one in Yosemite, Mono Country Park, Big Morongo

Shore Lark Eremophila alpestris

250+ in prepared fields along road to Red Hill Marina

Northern Rough-winged Swallow  Stelgidopteryx serripennis

1 Abbott’s Lagoon, 1 Big Morongo

Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor

Mono Lake and Salton Sea

Violet-green Swallow Tachycineta thalassina

2 Mono Lake, Big Sur coast road

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica


Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon pyrrhonota

Abbott’s Lagoon

Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum

4 Big Morongo

American Dipper Cinclus mexicanus

2 on Merced river both times we stopped at Park entrance

Cactus Wren Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus

3 Borrego Springs visitor centre

Canyon Wren Catherpes mexicanus

1 Glacier Point - Yosemite

Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris

1 Abbott’s Lagoon, 3 Mono Country Park.

Rock Wren Salpinctes obsoletus

3 above Glacier Point, 1 Borrego Springs visitor centre

Bewick's Wren Thryomanes bewickii


Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes

Pair in an Inverness garden - Point Reyes

Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos

Common Salton Sea

Sage Thrasher Oreoscoptes montanus

3 feeding on brine flies at South tufa - Mono Lake

California Thrasher Toxostoma redivivum

2 along Pinnacles NP approach road

Townsend's Solitaire Myadestes townsendi

1 Glacier Point, 3 fire road above Glacier Point, 1 Chevron Meadow

Swainson's Thrush Catharus ustulatus

1 along approach road to Tomales State Park - Point Reyes

American Robin Turdus migratorius

Common especially in Yosemite

Mountain Bluebird Sialia currucoides

1 Saddlebag Lake, 7 in Pinyon forest on way to Sagehen summit nr Mono Lake

Western Bluebird Sialia mexicana

14 along fire road above Glacier Point, 2 Foresta Road

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher Polioptila melanura

1 Wister unit, 5 Borrego Springs

Blue-grey Gnatcatcher  Polioptila caerulea

3 Sagehen Summit, 1 Mono Country Park

Golden-crowned Kinglet Regulus satrapa

1 Bear Valley, Common Yosemite but difficult to see

Olive-sided Flycatcher  Contopus cooperi

1 Glacier Point, 1 Chevron Meadow

Western Wood-Pewee Contopus sordidulus

1 Chevron Meadow, 5 Big Morongo

Pacific-slope Flycatcher Empidonax difficilis

1 Tomales State Park, 1 by Big Morongo

Willow Flycatcher  Empidonax traillii

1 GoldenHinde Inn Car Park 1st morning.

Dusky Flycatcher Empidonax oberholseri

1 along Merced river with Bushtits

Grey Flycatcher Empidonax wrightii

2 Mono Country Park

Ash-throated Flycatcher Myiarchus cinerascens

1 Yoqui Well near Borrego Springs

Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus

1 by Big Morongo

Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans

Regular throughout trip

Say's Phoebe Sayornis saya

1 along approach road to Pinnacles NP, 1 Finney Lakes

Cassin's Kingbird  Tyrannus vociferans

1 on telegraph wire in outskirts of Brawley, good comparison with only Western Kingbird of trip.

Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis

1 on same telegraph wire as Cassin’s in outskirts of Brawley

Pygmy Nuthatch Sitta pygmaea

10+ Bear Valley - Point Reyes, 2 pinyon trees nr Mono Lake

Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta canadensis

Common Yosemite

White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis

2 pinyon pines nr Mono Lake, 1 Pinnacles NP.

Brown Creeper Certhia americana

Inverness P.Reyes, Yosemite

Verdin Auriparus flaviceps

2 Wister Unit, 1 Borrego Springs

Mountain Chickadee Poecile gambeli

Common Yosemite and Mono Lake, 2 Big Morongo

Chestnut-backed Chickadee Poecile rufescens

Common Point Reyes area, 4 Big Sur

Oak Titmouse Baeolophus inornatus

5+ Pinnacles NP, 6+ Nojoqui Falls.

Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus

Many small gangs encountered

Wrentit Chamaea fasciata

2 Inverness, 1 Pinnacles NP

Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovicianus

Singletons often seen

Pinyon Jay Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus

80+ Lots of small flocks over the car park at Mono country Park

Steller's Jay  Cyanocitta stelleri

Common Point Reyes, Yosemite and Mono Lake

Western Scrub-Jay Aphelocoma californica

Seen regularly throughout

Black-billed Magpie Pica hudsonia

4 seen nr Mono and Crowley lakes

Clark's Nutcracker Nucifraga columbiana

1 on way to glacier Pont, 3 Chevron meadow, 1 Saddlebag Lake, 15+ in Pinyon Pines nr Mono Lake

American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos


Common Raven Corvus corax


Yellow-billed Magpie Pica nuttalli

1 at Nojoqui falls watched for 20 mins feeding by car park

Starling Sturnus vulgaris


Cassin's Vireo Vireo cassinii


Hutton's Vireo Vireo huttoni

1 both mornings in trees by GoldenHinde Inn car park

Warbling-Vireo  Vireo swainsonii

3+ both mornings in trees by GoldenHinde Inn car park

Orange-crowned Warbler Vermivora celata

Regular Point Reyes area and Yosemite

Nashville Warbler  Vermivora ruficapilla

6 Bridaveil Camp Ground approach road

Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia

1 Abbott’s Lagoon, 1 Inverness, 1 Mono Country Park, 2 Big Morongo

Yellow-rumped Warbler Dendroica coronata

Common Yosemite, A few round Mono Lake

Black-throated Grey Warbler Dendroica nigrescens

2 both mornings in trees by GoldenHinde Inn car park, 2 Bridaveil Camp Ground approach road, 1 Chevron Meadow

Townsend's Warbler Dendroica townsendi

Up to 6 both mornings in trees by GoldenHinde Inn car park, 1 Point Reyes lighthouse, 1 Bridaveil Camp Ground approach road.

Hermit Warbler Dendroica occidentalis

1cracking male & 1f Bridaveil Camp Ground approach road.

Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas

1 Abbott’s Lagoon,  1 Big Morongo.

Wilson's Warbler Wilsonia pusilla

1 Abbott’s Lagoon, 1 Inverness, 1 Big Morongo

Yellow-breasted Chat  Icteria virens

1 Big Morongo

American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis

10 Point Reyes area

Lesser Goldfinch Carduelis psaltria

1 Lee Vining, 4 Big Sur, Common Big Morongo, Salton Sea

Purple Finch Carpodacus purpureus

4 Tomales State Park

Cassin's Finch Carpodacus cassinii

2 on way to Glacier Point, 2 Tamarack flat approach road

House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus

Common nr Bodie, Big Sur and around Salton Sea

House Sparrow Passer domesticus


Black-headed Grosbeak Pheucticus melanocephalus

2 at feeders Big Morongo

Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus

Dirt common

Tricoloured Blackbird Agelaius tricolor

1 picked out from R-wings on first day.

Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta

1 Crowley Lake, 2 Pinnacles NP

Great-tailed Grackle  Quiscalus mexicanus

Regular around Brawley - Salton Sea

Brewer's Blackbird Euphagus cyanocephalus


Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater

Point Reyes, Mono Lake

Summer Tanager Piranga rubra

1 male nr feeders at Big Morongo

Western Tanager  Piranga ludoviciana

10+ (all females) Big Morongo

Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia

Common Point Reyes and Yosemite

White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys

Common Point Reyes, also at Yosemite and Mono Lake

Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis

Annoyingly common

Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis


Chipping Sparrow  Spizella passerina

Few seen in Yosemite

Brewer's Sparrow Spizella breweri

4 Sagehen Summit and South Tufa, 2 Big Morongo

Vesper Sparrow Pooecetes gramineus

1 South tufa - Mono Lake

Lark Sparrow Chondestes grammacus

10+ in outskirts of Brawley - Salton Sea

Black-throated Sparrow Amphispiza bilineata

6+ Yucca Ridge Trail Big Morongo

Sage Sparrow Amphispiza belli

2 (Saltbrush subsp) Sagehen Summit, 1 Big Morongo,4 (Bell’s subsp) Wister unit

Spotted Towhee Pipilo maculatus

The odd one seen

Abert's Towhee Pipilo aberti

1 Finney Lakes and 1 Brawley

California Towhee Pipilo crissalis

Common Pinnacles NP, Big Sur, Palos Verdes Peninsular


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