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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
California Trip Report, 26th Aug - 11th Sep 2000,
We decided on going to California at this time of year to get the start of the autumn migration, while hoping that many of the summer visitors would still be present. Overall I think we did very well, covering about 3200 miles and managing to record 281 species. As with any trip we missed some birds that we thought we might see, but also saw several that we weren't expecting. Accommodation was only booked in advance around Monterey and Bodega Bay, where the internet became very useful. It is always advisable to pre book for both areas, particularly for weekend visits as more reasonably priced accommodation is booked months in advance. Generally we sort accommodation in the area in which we finished birding each day, cost was mainly from $50 up to $100 in Lee Vining for twin rooms (a rip off). This was done so our trip could be as flexible as we liked, and we found that we didn't stick to our original itinerary as much as we thought we might. Advance booking might also be needed in the Yosemite area if going there over a weekend, but try and avoid this, as it will spoil your time in and around the National Park. Photography was more limited than I was hoping, though I still managed plenty of worthwhile photographs. Summit Meadow (see below) in Yosemite and Iris meadow on Mt Pinos was the best for passerines, and Santa Clara/Ventura Harbour was the best for shorebirds. The pelagics allow excellent photography for shearwaters, jaegers and albatross's.
A great way to find out where to go for the 'specialities' is to log onto the various California e-groups - www.groups.yahoo.com The locals offered invaluable advice and also let you know of what rarities are about. The best site I found for links to California web sites was at www.camacdonald.com/birding/uscalifornia
The weather was mixed in the High Sierra, hot on one day, stormy the next, and cloudy and cool the day after! Kern county and around Salton Sea was very hot (100*F), though not as hot as it can be (120*F+!). Along the coast it was very comfortable, warm and clear, though around San Francisco it was foggy as usual.
26th Aug Arrive at San Francisco airport in the afternoon, then straight on to the highway to Modesta. Night in Modesta.
27th Early morning drive along H-99 & 140 to Yosemite NP. At Yosemite we covered the Glacier point road, Yosemite village next for a belated lunch and finished off at Chevron Meadow. Night in Mariposa.
28th Back to Yosemite. Stop at Pohono Bridge for Am Dipper, then on to Glacier Point Road again, we then leave Yosemite going east along the 120, once out of the park, checked Saddlebag Lake and the various other lakes. Night in Lee Vinning.
29th Early morning visit to Bodie, the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon was spent at the west and south sides of the huge Mono Lake, then on to Crowley Lake. Night in Mammoth Lakes.
30th Early morning spent on north side of Crowley Lake. A lot of driving today, but still excellent birding, the White Mountains being productive but hard work. Drive down to eastern Kern county, brief stop at Diaz Lake and Kern River Preserve. Night in Kernville.
31st Morning at Kern River Preserve, then on to Jawbone Canyon, and finally Silver Saddle resort at Galileo. Night at Silver Saddle resort.
1st Sep Morning at Silver Saddle Resort. Long drive to Morongo Valley Preserve, through Barstow. Night in Indio.
2nd North and eastside of Salton Sea. Afternoon stops at Ramer and Finney Lakes. Late afternoon and evening around Brawley. Night in Brawley.
3rd South and west side of Salton Sea. Afternoon spent shopping at Cabazon, just west of Palm Springs (very productive?!). Night in Irvine, LA
4th Upper Newport Bay and Bolsa Chica SR in morning. Santa Clara estuary and Ventura Harbour in afternoon. Night in Ventura.
5th Morning at Ventura Harbour and Santa Clara Estuary. A very long afternoon to Pine Mountain. Night in Pine Mountain.
6th Morning at Mt Pinos - around McGill C/G and Iris meadow. Afternoon spent driving back to the coast via Maricopa and Pozo Road along H-55. Night in Morro Bay.
7th Morning at Montana de Oro SP, then alond H-1 through Big Sur NP, stopping at Andrew Morela SP, reaching Monterey late afternoon, allowing enough time for a quick walk around Elkhorn Slough and Moss Landing. Night in Watsonville.
8th Morning around Pinnacles National Monument NP and the afternoon driving along Panocho Road (J-1).
9th Santa Cruz pelagic. Late afternoon stop at Ano Neuvo SP. Night in Petaluma.
10th Bodega Bay pelagic, WOW! Night in Inverness.
11th Morning around a very misty Point Reyes, afternoon flight back to London.
This spectacular park was worth the visit for the scenery alone, but the birding wasn't bad either.
Glacier Point Road - accessed by going south along H-41. If travelling from the west, as you first turn on to this road you cross the river, stop here for American Dipper, then carry on up the steep climb. Stop just before the tunnel for a fabulous view. Once through the tunnel you pass two large burnt areas, we found the second to be very productive in the early morning, keep checking the low scrub for Fox Sparrow and warblers etc and the dead trees for woodpeckers, singing passerines and Townsend's Solitaire. Eventually you come to the turn off for Glacier Point Road, make sure you have plenty of fuel, as it is longer than you expect drive to the end! The first meadow on the right is Summit Meadow, which proved to be one of the best sites, but only in the afternoon when the two small trees in the middle were full of passerines coming down to bathe. There are toilets here too. Best to try here on the way back. Next are the McGurk and Westfall Trails, which were very disappointing. McGurk is said to be good for Black-backed Woodpecker, and I can see why, but we missed them (not too disappointed as I've seen them in Canada) and only saw 5 other birds! Westfall wasn't too productive either. There are many stops on the way to the point that may be worthwhile. From the Point the view is amazing and you should see many birds flying below you, perhaps your first Clark's Nutcracker.
Yosemite Valley - this wasn't checked that well, except for the odd place that just 'looked good' for a wander.
Chevron Meadow - Park at the service station along Big Oak Flat Road by the junction with H-120. Then walk along the north side of the meadow, where you can see many a birder has been along for Great Grey Owl, we didn't stay till dusk here as some 'birder' was walking all the way round the meadow.
White Wolf Campground - Off H-120. Good for Pine Grosbeak, though as we had seen one the previous day down to 15 feet, the effort wasn't put in, and there were a lot of people about, perhaps an early morning visit would be best.
We didn't do that much birding further on as there was a huge storm for the rest of the day. By the time it stopped we were at Tuolumne Meadow, this is a huge meadow, several Mountain Bluebirds were here, and a walk on the east side produced a good number of sparrows.
Saddlebag Lake (10,000 feet) - 2 miles east of Yosemite, turn left and follow the gravel track uphill for 3 miles. The lack of air was noticeable! This is the site for White-tailed Ptarmigan and G-C Rosy Finch, we didn't have the time to trample round for hours, so just a quick walk below the dam and around the car park turned up several birds.
Mono Lake area
Bodie State Historic Park - This ghost town is home to the highest density of Sage Grouse in the state. We got there for dawn, but workmen were already there. It is said they are often in the ghost town at dawn. So we tried walking the sage in the area, this still produced good numbers of Sage Thrasher and Green-tailed Towhee. We also tried Murphy Spring, this is along H-270 to Bodie, 300 yards before the road turns to gravel. Good for the sage birds, including nevadensis Sage Sparrow
Mono Lake County Park - Situated in the NW corner off H-395 provides a good introduction to Mono Lake as the birds aren't as close as they will be! An excellent muddy shoreline at the end of the broadwalk produced Semipalmated Sandpiper and Black Brant. A scan across the lake will reveal Eared Grebe and R-N Phalarope in unbelievable numbers.
West-end - There is a small car park just to the north of the visitor centre. Here you can get within feet of hundreds of Wilson's Phalaropes (1 went under my tripod) as they feed on the billions (an underestimate) of flies, no the mud isn't black!
South Tufa area - on the south side off H-120 is an excellent site. Sage Thrashers feed along the shoreline and the swallows perch on the Tufa (a rocky formation), which are inhabited by Rock Wrens. This is said to be a good site for Grey Flycatcher.
Navy Beach - the next car park on, this was the only site where Red-necked Phalaropes were feet away from the shoreline, although strangely, there were no Wilson's. Good site for Brewer's Sparrow.
Crowley Lake - This Lake had good numbers of birds, although they were very distant on the spit, we couldn't work out how to get there, other than walking but the birds were 'scopeable'. We came here early morning to look for Sage Grouse, but we didn't know where to look for them, we even asked the local Sheriff! We thought the road running along the north edge of the lake looked best, so we tried that. Luckily for us we saw a female, but no males. The several dirt tracks running through the sage are good for sage birds anyway.
Tollhouse Spring - the first stop in the mountains, though the last for us. A great little spot, several empidonax flycatchers were noted as well as a Juniper Titmouse amongst other things. Turn left on to H-168 at Big Pine and Tollhouse Spring is on your left after 8 miles.
Cedar Flat Campground - 5 miles on from Tollhouse spring on the right-hand side. This area doesn't have many birds so when you did see one it is worth checking. 2 Juniper Titmouse were seen here, listen for their distinctive 'rattle' call, also here were Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, Chipping Sparrow and Grey Flycatcher.
Grandview Campground - reached by taking the road off to the left, opposite Cedar Flat, and it is 5-6 miles on from here. Black-throated Grey Warblers were fairly common here, Juniper Titmouse, B-G Gnatcatcher were seen feeding on the ground, along with Red Crossbill. Birding can get tiring up here.
Kern River Preserve - This excellent oasis is a mecca for both common and rare breeding birds. In fall it isn't quite as good, as the birds have stopped singing, making this preserve very hard work. The birds are often in the back bushes, and you can't get any closer to them from the path. Glimpses of every American and Mexican species were probably had, but sticking with the bird is hard! There were still lots of birds to be seen, especially along the river, halfway round the trail. Lesser Goldfinches were everywhere, Summer Tanager a regular fly-by and you could just feel birds all around you. By the visitor centre is a notice board with what's around and breeding, and the feeders are alive with aggressive selasphorus and Anna's Hummingbirds.
Jawbone Canyon - This is said to be the prime site for Le Conte's Thrasher. Although early morning is best, when they perch on the bushes I saw two briefly in the heat of the afternoon. Keep thinking you are looking for a mouse, not a bird, as they tend to run away from you with their long tail cocked up. I didn't see any in the wash, which they are supposed to prefer. To get here turn right off H-14 when you've gone through Red Rock Canyon SP and park by the first large pipe, we didn't see any Rattlesnakes here, although I did tend to stay away from the thick brush!
Silver Saddle Resort - A cracking oasis in this very dead desert region. It is reached going east through California City, following the signs to Galileo. During fall this is where the locals go, armed with their CB's. We were there a little early but there were still flycatchers around the sprinklers and warblers in the trees. Birding can be very relaxed here, and you can stay at the resort, which provides excellent meals and rooms (c$70). It took us 1/2 day to walk the resort, but this was by double-checking every tree.
Morongo Valley Preserve - on the western edge of Joshua Tree NP, along H-62 just west of Yucca Valley. Another great preserve. The rough ground behind the toilet block is reliable for Vermillion Flycatcher. The caravan in the car park is the Rangers, he lets you sit down on his deck chairs and watch the hummer feeders. We walked the Marsh Trail, probably the best to do, as it goes through good, wet habitat and isn't very long. Check the Ash-throated Flycatchers for Brown-crested.
This smelly, dead fish-lined, salty water is alive with birds, but if it's a family holiday it may be best avoided! In all areas around the sea similar types of birds will be seen - 1000's of terns (mainly Caspian and Black), Gulls (California & Ring-billed), Pelicans and waders (Avocets, Stilts, Curlews and Godwits). Smaller numbers of other birds tend to be a bit more selective, any stop along the sea could be productive, but here are the ones we found were particularly so. We worked around the sea clockwise, starting from the northeast.
Buchannan Road - park opposite the road to walk the mosquite, good views of Crissal Thrasher here, Abert's Towhee were particularly common.
Hayes/Van der Veer Road - Particularly good if Lincoln Road is closed (the road to the Whitewater Delta), it was when we were there, to see what is in the delta, though it is very distant.
Salton Sea State Rec. Park HQ - $2 fee. Only one of two places where we saw Cactus Wren.
Wister Unit - Park and walk the little path through mosquite for Verdin, B-T Gnatcatcher and Common Ground Dove. Least Bittern was also seen over the reeds here. A great place for passerines.
Noffsinger Road - This was the best stop. The pools along the road were full of S-B Dowitchers and Western Sandpipers, which yielded Stilt Sandpipers and L-B Dowitchers.
Alcott Road - Good for gulls, including 55 Yellow-footed Gulls and Stilt Sandpipers.
Red Hill - Superb area, though the birds can be fairly distant. Lots of Skimmers here and a few Gull-billed Terns.
Obsidian Butte - Close views of Y-F Gulls here, the pools along the approach road were particularly good.
Salton Sea NWR - This was a tricky place to get to, from Brawley follow H-78/86 for c12 miles and turn right on to Bannister Road, then left onto Vendel Road, this road is easily missed, follow the road to the look out platform and walk the trail. There are several turn-offs along Bannister Road, all have Burrowing Owls. The sea is a fair way from here, but this is where the 'yuma' Clapper Rails reside, Baird's Sandpiper was seen here too.
Salton City - Excellent for photographing waders and terns from the car park.
Ramer Lake - Disappointing, 1000's of herons here and 100's of G-T Crackles, often has Fulvous Whistling-duck in late Summer.
Finney Lake - Good for mosquite birds, the Lake itself was very disappointing
Situated 10 miles SE of Salton Sea this is a must site, a good place to stop overnight too. The place to go is Las Flores Drive. Follow H-86 west, about a mile before the end of town is Las Flores Drive, follow it to the end, park in the car park and check the mosquite below the end house. This was easy birding. In 5 minutes we had Inca & W-W Dove, Gila W/pecker, Cactus Wren and Gambel's Quail! Unfortunately since our visit the Date Palms are said to have been cut down, so the vocal Gila's may, sadly, have moved on.
At dusk it is worth going to Western Road, 1/2 mile east of Las Flores Drive. Once on the road, go north past the Cemetery and then the Dump to view the mosquite to the east, here great views were had of 6 Lesser Nighthawks.
Upper Newport Bay - This excellent estuary situated on the south side of LA along H-1 was full of waders, terns and Skimmers, mainly from Eastbluff on the eastside, although the birds are quite distant from here. The main reason for visiting this site was for California Gnatcatcher, we struggled with these but eventually saw 2 on the cliffside scrub along Back Bay Drive. Along here we found the best spot to be where the small freshwater water pond is along the broadwalk, at the end of the scrub here we found male Allen's Hummer. The most famous bird here is the 'levipes' form of Clapper Rail, where over half the California population resides.
Bolsa Chica State Ecological Reserve - This small reserve north of Upper Newport Bay along H-1 was packed with terns and waders, mainly Elegant Terns which allowed excellent views as they continually fly overhead. This site is also the best for Royal Tern, but sadly we were unable to find any.
Ventura Harbour - This harbour is just to the west of Ventura off Harbour Blvd. It proved to be excellent early morning before the crowds get there as the birds roost on the piers, especially the southern pier, allowing excellent photography. Great for Surfbird and Wandering Tattler.
Santa Clara River Estuary - This site is reached by walking south along the beach from Ventura Harbour. The site was packed full of waders and excellent for photographing birds like Western Sandpiper and R-N Phalarope.
Casper Road Sod Fields - This is a reliable site for Pacific Golden Plover, in which we saw 3. To reach the site go along H-1 to reach Oxnard and come off along Hueneme Road travelling towards the coast, after 3-4 miles you will reach Casper Road on your left and the birds were in the 2nd field down on the left.
Mt Pinos - This area proved a worthy visit, we travelled up Lockwood Valley Road to Mt Pinos area where regular stops were made which proved fruitful. Are main reason to visit this area was to go to Pine Mountain where California Condors are rather tame, usually sitting on the rooftops, sadly (or luckily?!) we didn't see any, apparently they hadn't been seen in the area for over week. Although driving along the roads in Pine Mountain provided us with Mountain Quail and was buzzing with activity, but not quite as much as Mt Pinos. McGill Campground and Iris Meadow at the end of the road was alive with feeding flocks of Juncos, warblers and chickadees.
Montana de Oro State Park - This excellent reserve is situated 5 miles south of Morro Bay. Park by the campground to walk along the edge of the campground checking the trees below in the valley, this area can be frustrating as many of the birds will only be seen briefly before they go back into cover, also watch the pines in the campground.
Big Sur State Park - We travelled along H-1 to witness the scenery here, which was almost as disappointing as the birding, no more said.
Elkhorn Slough - Reached by coming off H-1 at Castroville and follow sign posts from there. This site proved rather poor on our visit, it is dependant on how much time you have as well as the trails are quite long. Good numbers of birds were noted, especially wildfowl, but I preferred most other sites visited.
Moss Landing - Only 20 minutes spent here as we did not want to pay! This is situated along H-1, 3 miles west of Elkhorn Slough at the river mouth. Fabulous views where had of Sea Otter by the pipes, feet away from the road allowing great photos.
Pinnacles National Monument - This longer than expected jaunt proved worthwhile, we went to the eastside of the park, strangely the road doesn't run all the way through, so to drive from one end to the other is a 60 mile trip compared to the 3 mile walk! To reach the eastside follow H-25 south for 29 miles from Hollister, then H-146 west for 4 miles until you get to the park entrance. From here you can go right to the Chalone Creek Picnic area. This area was productive by walking south along the other side of the dry stream until you find some water, once there it can be a magnet for birds, here was where we saw Lawrence's Goldfinch and 'belli' Sage Sparrow. By carrying on along H-146 you will come to the informative Visitor Centre, we followed a trail here but they are not very clear as to which one you are on.
Paicines Reservoir - This was found along H-25 between Pinnacles NM and Paicines. It was packed full of Am. Coots and P-B Grebes and looked as though it could produce something.
Panoche Road - From Paicines turn on to J-1 this is Panoche Road. This road seems to go on forever, we travelled for 21 miles and there was still good habitat further on. Stop anywhere that looks productive for a scan, this area is particularly good for Golden Eagle, Turkey and Say's Phoebe, we found these with patience and a lot of scanning, check the Oaks for Lewis's Woodpecker although we, sadly, only found Acorn Woodpeckers.
Ano Neuvo - This site is off H-1 between Santa Cruz and San Francisco. It is well known for its Northern Elephant Seal population. From the car park it is an hours walk to the seals and it is closed after 5pm (I think), though we were there afterwards and there wasn't too much trouble. The beach is covered with these huge beasts and other types of seals. Birding can be productive here to, it is said to be good for Black Swift and Marbled Murrelet, though we had little time for birding, as we went here after the Santa Cruz pelagic.
Point Reyes - Little time was spent here, we only checked the lighthouse, Chimney Rock (good for sea duck) and Ranch A, all these are found at the Point. The Birding Northern California guide goes into a lot of detail about the Point Reyes area.
Santa Cruz - This pelagic is marvellous for the sheer number of seabirds, especially the never-ending flock of Sooty Shearwaters. The Storm-petrel flock is the highlight of this pelagic, but we failed to locate it! We still saw most of the expected species and other birds like Marbled Murrelet. The highlight here was the Blue Whale show, these huge beasts showed brilliantly at very close range and was most unexpected on this pelagic. This trip is almost never cancelled and can be surprisingly warm, early morning may require a coat, don't forget the camera.
Bodega Bay - WOW! This pelagic was the highlight of the trip. Although not all are like this, in fact only 50% of these pelagics actually run, due to the state of the sea, it only needs a little breeze on the mainland for there to be a full-blown gale offshore. It is worth booking on another pelagic just in case this is cancelled, you won't be disappointed with either one. Bodega Bay is just to the north of Point Reyes, so if the trip is cancelled you could still have a good day. The trip can be cold and windy, but strangely the further out you get the warmer it becomes. This is because the sites the aimed for - Bodega Canyon and the Cordell Bank (c35 miles offshore) is warm water, if it gets above 60*F, Debbi Shearwater will get excited, and you never know what you may see. The bird numbers are a lot lower than Monterey Bay pelagics, but once a feeding flock is found there is always the feeling of something rare being found.
Pacific Loon (a.k.a Pacific Diver) Gavia pacifica
6 on sea off H-1 while driving through Big Sur
Common Loon (a.k.a Great northern Diver) Gavia
1 flew past on Bodega Bay pelagic
Eared Grebe (a.k.a Black-necked Grebe) Podiceps
Mono Lake was simply covered with them, perhaps 100,000+, noted at other sites in much, much smaller numbers
Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps
Birds seen in small numbers at several sites, except at a large lake between Pinnacles N.M and Panocho Road, where 80+ were present
Clark's Grebe Aechmophorus clarkii
Pairs at Crowley Lake and Diaz Lake, noted amongst Westerns on sea but numbers not noted
Western Grebe Aechmophorus occidentalis
Seen in large numbers on sea off Santa Clara and on both pelagics, also much smaller numbers seen on large lakes, ie 15+ on Crowley Lake
Shy Albatross Thalassarche caute
WOW!!! Stunning views on Bodega Bay pelagic when we were about 40miles out to sea in 60*F water. It flew feet away from the boat before landing, where we got within 20 metres of it, it then took flight once before re-landing, then after 10 minutes it flew off never to be seen again. At the time there was a lot of confusion on what race it was, it was thought to be a 'Salvin's Albatross', but 1-2 features didn't match, apparently, having never seen one before I was not one to comment on the race. But having seen photographs since I believe this was probably the correct identification.
Black-footed Albatross Phoebastria nigripes
7 were seen on Santa Cruz pelagic, with c50 on Bodega Bay pelagic
Northern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis
3 on Santa Cruz pelagic and 5 on Bodega Bay pelagic, all were of the dark form, 'Blue Fulmar'
Buller's Shearwater Puffinus bulleri
25 on Santa Cruz pelagic and an amazing c1200 on Bodega Bay pelagic of this most attractive ocean wanderer
Pink-footed Shearwater Puffinus creatopus
50+ on Santa Cruz pelagic and 500+ on Bodega Bay pelagic, of this incredibly Cory's-like shearwater
Flesh-footed Shearwater Puffinus carnepies
6 sightings on Bodega Bay pelagic, probaby only involved 2 birds of this powerful and large shearwater
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus
An incredible c15,000 seen on Santa Cruz pelagic was a spectacular sight as the mist lifted, revealing a constant stream of these delightful birds, surprisingly only! c820 seen on Bodega Bay pelagic
Black Storm-Petrel Oceanodroma melania
6 on Santa Cruz pelagic and 200+ on Bodega Bay pelagic, surprisingly easy to identify, they have a very graceful flight, compared to the erratic flight of Ashy
Ashy Storm-Petrel Oceanodroma homochroa
Sadly, only 200+ on Santa Cruz pelagic, we somehow failed to locate the several 1000 strong flock that reside here, a further 75 were seen on the Bodega Bay pelagic
Fork-tailed Storm Petrel Oceanodroma furcata
Although we were hoping for 1-2 on the Bodega Bay pelagic nobody was prepared for the 1700 strong flock that also contained all the Black Storm-petrels, a wonderful sight as several approached just metres away from the boat
American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
c50 at Crowley Lake and 100's at Salton Sea
Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
1000's seen at Salton Sea with several seen all along the coast as well
Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus
Present at most sites containing water, also the commonest cormorant seen along the coast
Brandt's Cormorant Phalacrocorax penicillatus
20+ on Santa Cruz pelagic and noted on Bodega Bay pelagic
Pelagic Cormorant Phalacrocorax pelagicus
1 in Bodega Bay harbour as we boarded the 2nd boat
Least Bittern Lxobrychus exilis
1 seen briefly in flight over reeds at the Wister Unit at Salton Sea
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
1-Western Road-Brawley, 1-Salton Sea NWR, 12+ Morro Harbour, 2 in Santa Cruz Harbour and 1 in Bodega Bay
Green Heron (a.k.a Green-backed Heron) Butorides
1-Keystone Road (near Brawley), 1-Salton Sea NWR and 1 at Santa Clara
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
1000's around Ramer Lake, seen in numbers over much of Salton Sea area
Snowy Egret Egretta thula
Fairly common at most water based sites
Great Egret (a.k.a Great White Egret) Ardea alba
Fairly common at most water based sites
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
Seen at many sites with water
White-faced Ibis Plegadis chihi
Small numbers around Salton Sea, except in the evening when 10,000's were seen flying to roost in the area
Canada Goose Branta canadenis
Brant (a.k.a Black Brant) Branta bernicla nigricans
9 on the northwest side of Mono Lake appeared oddly plumaged, being, except for 2, all bleached, perhaps by the sun?
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Gadwall Anas strepera
Green-winged Teal Anas crecca carolinensis
American Wigeon Anas americana
2 fem/imm at Elkhorn Slough
Northern Pintail Anas acuta
Occasional sightings, including a fully-winged, wary immature at Silver Saddle resort
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
Blue-winged Teal Anas discors
1 eclipse drake at Elkhorn Slough
Cinnamon Teal Anas cyanoptera
Redhead Anas americana
Small numbers seen distantly on the north shore of Salton Sea from Vander Veer Road
Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris
Pair on Crowley Lake
Surf Scoter Melanitta perspicillata
14 (4 ad/drk) off Chimney Rocks, Point Reyes
Common Merganser (a.k.a Goosander) Mergus merganser
1 imm on river in Yosemite Valley, and 1 fem/imm on Teneya Lake
Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis
Noted in small numbers on some sites
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
Common, especially around Kern county and Pozo Road off H-58
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
1 from Davis Road, Salton Sea and 2 in Upper Newport Bay from along Back Bay Drive
White-tailed Kite (a.k.a Black-shouldered Kite) Elanus
2 (1 ad, 1 imm) at Elkhorn Slough, 1 at Moss Landing, 2 at Ano Neuvo and 1 along H-1 to San Francisco
Northern Harrier (a.k.a Marsh Hawk) Circus cyaneus
Regular sightings, both in the High Sierra and around Salton Sea
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos
Singles were circling the eastern access road to Pinnacles NM and the lake just to the north, while 2 were seen along Panocho Road
Cooper's Hawk Accipiter cooperii
Regular sightings in all areas
Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis
Singles were seen over the large burnt area along Glacier point road, Yosemite on both days
Red-shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus elegans
Regular sightings over lowlands and coast
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
Common in all areas, including a few sightings of dark-phase birds
Swainson's Hawk Buteo swainsoni
1 along H-395 from the White Mountains to Kern county
Rough-legged Hawk (a.k.a Rough-legged Buzzard) Buteo
Fantastic views as 1 (prob. ad) flew very low west just past the eastside entrance to Yosemite
American Kestrel Falco sparverius
Fairly common, most seen from car along the highways, but especially common around the south side of Salton Sea, with 8 birds sitting in a ploughed field along Bannister Road
Prairie Falcon Falco mexicanus
Singles over Cedar Flats Campground, White Mountains, and good views of a perched bird along H-58 near Maricopa
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
Singles along H-1 through Big Sur and over Santa Cruz Harbour at dawn
Chukar Alectoris chukar
4 seen along the approach road to the White Mountains, just before Tollhouse Spring
Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo merriamii
7 by a stream along Panocho Road
Sage Grouse Centrocercus urophasianus
Very lucky with this one! Fabulous views of a female as it walked slowly across a dirt track, just feet in front of us on the north side of Crowley Lake. We failed at Bodie, even though we got there for dawn, there were several workman, and no luck around the spring. At Crowley Lake we didn't know where to look for them, so we tried where looked best! The best advice I can give for this one is to keep watching the track in front of you. There are several driveable dirt tracks through the sage
Gambel's Quail Callipepla gambelii
Delightful views of a male on lookout as the female and 4 juvs fed in the open at Las Flores Drive, Brawley, also 2+ (1 male) briefly in sage opposite Sheldon reservoir and 7 along Buchannan Road, on the north end of Salton Sea
California Quail Callipepla californica
A family of 6 in the car park of Crowley Lake, followed by 40+ feeding on lawns around Pine Mountain, c20 at Montana de Oro SP and c30 in 2 coveys at Chalone Creek picnic area, Pinnacles NM
Mountain Quail Oreortyx pictus
9 ran across a road in Pine Mountain, then disappeared quickly into cover, another right time, right place, bird
Clapper Rail Rallus longirostris
Incredible views of the endangered 'yumanensis' race at Salton Sea NWR, as 6 were seen, including 1 feeding on the path and at least 2 calling. These were around the little trail covering the watered reeds just SW of the viewing tower.1 was also seen from this on the dry mud between 2 clumps of reeds. At Upper Newport Bay 2 of the 'light-footed' form, 'levipes' were seen, one in flight, and one feeding out in the open at the top end of the bay along Eastbluff, by the large island, 2 were also heard.
Virginia Rail Rallus limicola
2 from the broadwalk lookout at the NW end of Mono Lake
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Recorded around Salton Sea
American Coot Fulica americana
Seen at most water sites, but 1000's were at Crowley Lake
Black-bellied Plover (a.k.a Grey Plover) Pluvialis
Seen in small numbers on Salton Sea and in larger numbers along the coast, with c200 at Bolsa Chica SR
American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica
A moulting adult was seen at Salton City
Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva
Good views were had of 3 moulting adults along Casper Road in the Sod fields, Ventura, this is said to be a reliable site for the species during fall
Snowy Plover (a.k.a Kentish Plover) Charadrius
Odd singles were seen around Salton Sea and c50 were seen on the beach at Santa Clara
Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus
Seen in reasonable numbers along the coast, never more than 40 at a site
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus
Loud, common and very vocal, a suitable scientific name
Black Oystercatcher Heamatopus bachmani
Surprisingly only 2 were seen, at Montana de Oro SP, although we rarely checked rocky shorelines
American Avocet Recurvirostra americana
5 at Mono Lake, 1 at Crowley Lake and an unbelievable number at Salton Sea
Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus
Common, especially so around Salton Sea
Willet Catoptrophorus semipalmatus inornatus
Common along the coast, also seen at Salton Sea, mainly at Red Hill
Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca
Present at many sites, mainly in singles, but 5 at Elkhorn Slough
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes
8 together along approach road to Obsidian Butte, Salton Sea
Wandering Tattler Heteroscelus incanus
1 bathing at Santa Clara in the evening, with the same one next morning in nearby Ventura Harbour, being joined by another bird. 1 was seen on rocks on the Bodega Bay pelagic
Solitary Sandpiper Tringa solitaria
One flew, calling, low over the south side of Mono Lake
Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia
Fairly common, in small numbers in most areas
Whimbrel (Hudsonian Whimbrel) Numenius phaeopus
2 at Santa Clara and in Ventura Harbour next morning
Long-billed Curlew Numrenius tahitiensis
Common, especially around Salton Sea, where present in large numbers
Marbled Godwit Limosa fedoa
Common, especially around Salton Sea
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
3 in Ventura Harbour, and others seen in Santa Cruz and Bodega Bay Harbour
Black Turnstone Arenaria melanocephala
15+ in Ventura Harbour and c5 in Santa Cruz Harbour and 20+ in Bodega Bay
Surfbird Aphriza virgata
9 in Ventura Harbour allowed excellent views of this much-wanted species, also 2 in Santa Cruz Harbour and 16 in Bodega Bay
Sanderling Calidris alba
Seen in fair numbers along the coast, including c200 at Bolsa Chica SR
Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla
3+ juvs in NW corner of Mono Lake, also 1 probable seen briefly at Santa Clara
Western Sandpiper Calidris mauri
c400 in the NW corner of Mono Lake, 1000's around Salton Sea, c1000 at Upper Newport Bay and c200 at Santa Clara allowed great photographic opportunities, also smaller numbers seen at a number of sites
Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla
Similar to Western Sandpiper but in much smaller numbers
Baird's Sandpiper Calidris bairdii
Single juvs were seen at the Salton Sea NWR feeding with 1 Least on a puddle in the middle of a field and also with Westerns at Santa Clara, allowing close views
Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos
2 were at Historic Ranch A at Point Reyes with 1 next day
Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus
300+ at Salton Sea, with 250+ of these along Noffsinger Road, also 4 at Santa Clara
Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus
c40 were along Noffsinger Road, Salton Sea were the only ones noted
Stilt Sandpiper Calidris himantopus
15 were along Noffsinger Road and 4 from Alcott Road, Salton Sea
Common Snipe (a.k.a Wilson's Snipe) Gallinago gallinago
Singles were at Elkhorn Slough and Historic Ranch A at Point Reyes
Wilson's Phalarope Phalaropus tricolor
Several 1000 were along the western shore of Mono Lake, with 12 at Salton City
Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus
Quite an incredible sight was 10,000's of these delightful birds spinning all over Mono Lake mixed in with the Eared Grebes, also seen in the 100's at Salton Sea and on both pelagics, especially the Bodega Bay pelagic, smaller numbers noted at Santa Clara and other sites
Red Phalarope (a.k.a Grey Phalarope) Phalaropus
3 on Santa Cruz pelagic and 100+ on Bodega Bay pelagic noted once well out to sea, replacing most Red-necked Phalaropes
South Polar Skua Catharacta maccormicki
7 on Santa Cruz pelagic and an incredible 25 on Bodega Bay pelagic, some allowing fantastic views as they flew directly overhead
Pomarine Jaeger (a.k.a Pomarine Skua) Stercorarius
These powerful birds put on a stunning display, all adults, some with 'maximum spoonage' with 5 on Santa Cruz pelagic and 29 on Bodega Bay pelagic, 1 was too close to focus on!
Parasitic Jaeger (a.k.a Arctic Skua) Stercorarius
2 chasing terns just north of Bolsa Chica SR and 2 on Santa Cruz pelagic and 8 on Bodega Bay pelagic, surprisingly all seen within 1/2 hour of each other well out to sea
Long-tailed Jaeger (a.k.a Long-tailed Skua)
21 adults and 1 dark imm were seen on Bodega Bay pelagic, excellent views of this wonderful bird, with several still in full summer plumage
Heermann's Gull Larus heermanni
One of the more attractive gulls, properly the commonest gull along the coast, all were already in winter plumage
Laughing Gull Larus atricilla
An adult winter was seen along the approach road to Obsidian Butte, Salton Sea
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
Common along the coast and on Salton Sea
California Gull Larus californicus
Common on Mono Lake, Salton Sea, coast and on pelagics, but looked a little lost at 40 miles out to sea in the mist!
Herring Gull Larus argentatus smithsonianus
Not as common as I thought, no large numbers noted, seen at Salton Sea and on the coast. Also a bird noted at Mono Lake in with a flock of California Gulls, had a complete head shawl, darkish mantle, deep pink coloured legs and a more compact appearance, but the primary pattern was not seen well
Yellow-footed Gull Larus livens
Although I was expecting to see this one, I didn't realise how many I would see. All 119 were seen at Salton Sea - 1 Niland Marina, 12 Noffsinger Road, 55 Alcott Road, 29 Red Hill, 19 Obsidian Butte, 3 Salton City, nearly all were adults, with a few 2/3rd summers and 2 1st summers
Western Gull Larus occidentalis
Common along the coast, also one adult was noted amongst Yellow-foots at Noffsinger Road
Glaucous-winged Gull Larus glaucescens
This was our first bird! An adult flew over the car by the river mouth at San Francisco, also a possible 2nd summer was seen at Santa Clara and an adult was sat on rocks at Bodega Bay, 3-4 'odd' looking birds were also noted at Santa Clara and Santa Cruz
Sabine's Gull Xema sabini
Good views were had of the best gull in the world on both pelagics, c25 on Santa Cruz and c125 on Bodega Bay, including 2 fully plumaged Long-tailed Jeagers harassing 2 ad/sum close to the boat - WOW!
Elegant Tern Sterna elegans
Everywhere along the coast were 'Elephant Terns', particularly at Bolsa Chica SR where several hundred were present with fledged chicks continually flying a few feet overhead
Caspian Tern Sterna caspia
Incredible views of several hundred around Salton Sea, also noted along the coast and 55 at Crowley Lake
Forster's Tern Sterna forsteri
Noted in small numbers around Salton Sea
Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica
Noted only at Salton Sea - 5 at Red Hill, 3 along Schmiff Road and 3+ at Salton City
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
2 adults at Bolsa Chica SR
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea
1 on Santa Cruz pelagic and c110 in 4 flocks on Bodega Bay pelagic
Least Tern (a.k.a Little Tern) Sterna antillarum
1 adult and 2 imm at Santa Clara
Black Tern Chlidonias niger
Several hundred on Salton Sea, also 1 at Bolsa Chica SR
Black Skimmer Rynchops niger
300+ at Red Hill, Salton Sea and c600 at Upper Newport Bay along Eastbluff, 5 were also noted at Bolsa Chica SR
Common Murre (a.k.a Common Guillemot) Uria aalge
Small numbers noted on Santa Cruz pelagic and 65 on Bodega Bay pelagic
Pigeon Guillemot Cepphus columba
12 close inshore on Bodega Bay pelagic and 3 from Chimney Rock, Point Reyes
Long-billed Murrelet Brachyramphus perdix
This caused a bit of excitement on the Bodega Bay pelagic. Only 5 minutes past the harbour while looking at Pigeon Guillemots, a woman asks what the small bird is on the water, talk of Marbled Murrelet is quickly passed with shouts of "STOP THE BOAT" by Debbi Shearwater. As one of the leaders proclaims it may be a Long-billed, having seen Marbled the previous day I realised it wasn't one too. Luckily we got within 30 metres (much closer than the Marbleds allowed the previous day) of the bird to allow some identifiable photos to be taken. Sadly after it dived 6 times we were unable to relocate the winter-plumaged bird
Marbled Murrelet Brachyramphus marmoratus
13 were seen in close company on the Santa Cruz pelagic, surprisingly wary
Xantus's Murrelet Synthliboramphus hypoleucus scrippsi
Good views of 2 on Bodega Bay pelagic in the warm water along the Cordell Bank 35 miles offshore, also 6 more Xantus/Craveri's were seen but were too distant to identify
Cassin's Auklet Ptychoramphus aleuticus
8 on Santa Cruz pelagic and c250 on Bodega Bay pelagic, some of these birds eat so much that they can't fly, quite a humorous sight watching them scramble away from the boat
Rhinoceros Auklet Cerorhinca monocerata
80+ on Santa Cruz pelagic and c60 on Bodega Bay pelagic
Band-tailed Pigeon Columba fasciata
2 flew over H-140 into Yosemite, 2-Mt Pinos and 1 at Pine Mountain
Rock Dove (a.k.a Feral Pigeon) Columba livia
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
Fairly common over most terrain, especially around Salton Sea
White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica
A single along Las Flores Drive, Brawley
Common Ground Dove Columbina passerina
7 at Wister Unit, Salton Sea, also a few feeding along the sides of the roads around the south side of Salton Sea, including 10+ along H-111 and 7 along Western Road, Brawley, also noted around Finney Lake
Inca Dove Columbina inca
2 were around the last house of Las Flores Drive, including one calling on the fence as soon as we got out of the car
Greater Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus
This much hoped for species proved elusive, only 2 brief sightings were had, one from the car whilst driving along H-178 in eastern Kern county, and the other ran across Vendal Road (this is the road that takes you to Salton Sea NWR) in typical roadrunner fashion. A much bigger bird than was thought
Barn Owl Tyto alba
One at dusk over fields near Bodega Bay
Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus
One showed extremely well in the campground at Silver Saddle resort, Galileo
Burrowing Owl Athene cunicularia hypugaea
After struggling to find these birds during the heat of the day on the east side of Salton Sea we finally saw 1 along Gentry Road, 3 Eddins Road and 3 along H-111 with the junction of Rotherford Road. Early morning next day they were everywhere before the heat rose - 1-S31, 10-Keystone Road, 5-Forrester Road, 24-Walker Road (off Bannister Road), 4-Vendal Road, 1-H-86. Look for large burrows along the ditches about 3 metres away from the road
Lesser Nighthawk Chordeiles acutipennis
6 feeding over mosquite just to the north of the Dump along Western Road, Brawley, in the evening was lucky, as we thought we were going to miss this one
Black Swift Cypseloides niger
One over Yosemite Valley and 5+ over the large burnt area along Glacier Point Road in the late afternoon
Vaux's Swift Chaetura vauxi
7+ with the Black Swifts over burnt area, Glacier Point road and a single over the Westfall trail in Yosemite were surprisingly the only ones seen
White-throated Swift Aeronautes saxatalis
2 along H-120 in the evening towards Chevron Meadows, Yosemite and 12+ very high over I-33 towards Mt Pinos
Black-chinned Hummingbird Archilochus alexandria
Surprisingly only 3 (1 male) seen at Kern River preserve and 1 at Morongo Valley
Costa's Hummingbird Calypte costea
2+ fem/imms at Kern River preserve and 4+(1 male) at Morongo Valley
Anna's Hummingbird Calypte anna
Common, seen in all types of terrain, 40+ at Kern River preserve and Morongo Valley
Calliope Hummingbird Stellula calliope
1 male and 2 prob. fem/imm seen over the stream along H-140 into Yosemite
These little fighters seen commonly everywhere, including c20 at Kern River preserve, but surprisingly only 2-3 at Morongo Valley preserve, 1 was found freshly dead at Kern River preserve showing broad tail feathers (although I don't know how broad Allen's are)
Rufous Hummingbird Selasphorus rufus
2 males at Kern River preserve
Allen's Hummingbird Selasphorus sasin
1-2 males showed very well at Upper Newport Bay along Back Bay Drive, it was with 2 fem/imm selasphorus sp.
Belted Kingfisher Ceryle alcyon
Regularly seen along rivers in all terrain
Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus
These delightful, social birds were commonly encountered, especially along H-140 into Yosemite, where flocks of up to 8 were encountered
White-headed Woodpecker Picoides albolarvatus
Surprisingly only one was seen, a female/imm at McGill Campground, Mt Pinos
Gila Woodpecker Melanerpes uropygialis
Easy at Las Flores Drive, Brawley, where up to 6 were seen around the waste ground, very vocal. Although, sadly, since my visit the Date Palms they favoured have apparently been cut down
Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus
Common in all terrain of the 'Red-shafted' form
Nuttall's Woodpecker Picoides nuttallii
Fairly common in Kern River preserve and Andrew Morela SP, Big Sur, also seen around Salton Sea
Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens
Just 1 seen, at Silver Saddle Resort, Galileo
Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus
Common in High Sierra, but largely replaced by Nuttall's further south
Olive-sided Flycatcher Contopus cooperi
3 at Tollhouse Spring-White Mountain
Western Wood-Pewee Contopus sordidulus
Single on burnt area-Yosemite, 3 at Tollhouse Spring-White Mountains, 1-Kern River preserve and 2-McGill C/G-Mt Pinos
Willow Flycatcher Empidonax traillii extimus
4 at Kern River preserve, 7+ Silver Saddle resort, 4 at Morongo Valley and 1 at Montana de Oro SP
Hammond's Flycatcher Empidonax hammandii
1 at Silver Saddle resort, 1-Morongo Valley, 2-Wister Unit and 1-Iris Meadow,
Gray Flycatcher Empidonax wrightii
A single showed well at Cedar Flats campground and 2 were at Tollhouse Spring, White Mountains
Dusky Flycatcher Empidonax oberholseri
Single on the NW corner of Mono Lake and 2-3 Silver Saddle resort
Pacific-slope Flycatcher Empidonax difficilis
1-Silver Saddle resort, 1-Pozo Road, 3-Montana de Oro SP, 1-Andrew Morela SP, 2-Elkhorn Slough and 2 at Chalone Creek- Pinnacles NM
Black Phoebe Sayornis phoebe
Common in most areas
Say's Phoebe Sayornis saya
2 around the cattails at Silver Saddle Resort and 2 along Panocho Road
Vermillion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus
Pair seen at Morongo Valley, on rough ground between the toilet block and Covington Park
Ash-throated Flycatcher Myiarchus cinerascens
2 at Morongo Valley
Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis
1 at Silver Saddle resort, 3-Las Flores Drive, Brawley and 7 along I-33 to Mt Pinos
Cassin's Kingbird Tyrannus vociferans
2 at Santa Clara and 1 along Pozo Road, off H-58
Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovcianus
Common in the south and along H-140 near Merced
Hutton's Vireo Vireo huttoni
Singles seen at Montana de Oro SP, Elkhorn Slough and Panocho Road
Cassin's Vireo Vireo cassinii
A single at Point Reyes. In addition at Silver Saddle resort a bird seen 4x, but very briefly in strong winds was either a Cassin's or Plumbeous Vireo
Warbling Vireo Vireo gilvus
Singles at Silver Saddle resort, Andrew Morela SP and on Moses Spring Trail-Pinnacles NM
Steller's Jay Cyanocitta stelleri
Very common and co-operative in Yosemite, seen in other High Sierra sites, Mt Pinos area and at Pinnacles NM. Although mainly immatures seen, adults appeared quite wary
Clark's Nutcracker Nucifraga columbiana
Seen several times in flight along Glacier Point Road and H-120 through Yosemite to Mono Lake, but seen well in Saddlebag Lake car-park, also in White Mountains, and 4 fly-overs on Mt Pinos
Western Scrub Jay Aphelocoma californica
Common in all areas, 2 races seen, the shy, interior nevadae and coastal californica
Pinyon Jay Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus
Quite a sight was seeing c400 in sage along H-120 along south side of Mono Lake, also seen in much smaller numbers at Cedar Flats, White Mountains and along H-178 through eastern Kern county
Black-billed Magpie Pica pica
c25 around Bodie and c10 around Mono Lake, they have a peculiar call
Yellow-billed Magpie Pica nutalli
Common in the Central Valley, 13+ at Modesta and c60 along H-99 to Merced, later in the trip 5 along Panocho Road and 12 at Santa Margarita
American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos
Common Raven Corvus corax
Common around High Sierra and Kern county
Horned Lark (a.k.a Shorelark) Eremophila alpestris
2 at Crowley Lake, 1 at Salton Sea SRP HQ and 25 around Silver Saddle resort
Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor
Seen around Lee Vining, perhaps several hundred, but too dark to confirm ID, also seen in small numbers around the south side of Mono Lake
Violet-green Swallow Tachycineta thalassina
After 4 along Westfall trail, Yosemite we thought we were lucky, but they proved quite common! 30+ around the south side of Mono Lake was nothing compared to the c1500 on wires in the Crowley Lake car-park, also c30 along H-1 through Big Sur
Bank Swallow (a.k.a Sand Martin) Riparia riparia
5-10 seen on south side of Mono Lake
Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
4 on the south side of Mono Lake
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis
c20 on the south side of Mono Lake, also seen in unknown numbers the previous evening around Lee Vinning
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Seen in reasonable numbers, mainly in Central Valley
Wrentit Chamaea fasciata
Apparently these birds are hard to see, we found them very easy, several were seen and heard at Montana de Oro SP, with 25+ at Pinnacles NM, present at other sites too
Oak Titmouse Baeolophus inoratus
1 at Kern River preserve and 2 along Panocho Road
Juniper Titmouse Baeolophus griseus
2 at Cedar Flats, were followed by 4 at Grand View Campground and 1 at Tollhouse Spring in the White Mountains
Mountain Chickadee Poecile gambeli
Common in the High Sierra and surprisingly at Morongo Valley
Chestnut-backed Chickadee Poecile rufescens
2 in Yosemite Valley were followed by regular sightings along the coast
Verdin Auriparus flaviceps
Singles at Wister Unit, Las Flores Drive, Finney Lake and 3 at Buchannan Road
Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus
These social and common birds behave like Long-tailed Tits, although they are a bit plainer, but a great carrier species.
Brown Creeper Certhia americana
In Yosemite seen along McGurk Trail, also 6+ around McGill C/G, Mt Pinos
White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis
Fairly common, mainly in White Mountains and Mt Pinos
Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta canadensis
8+ at Summit Meadow, Yosemite and 2 at Montana de Oro SP
Pygmy Nuthatch Sitta pygmaea
It took a while to find this one, but once we found one they were everywhere around Mt Pinos - 2 along I-33, 12-Pine Mountain and 30+ around McGill C/G, Mt Pinos
House Wren Troglodytes aedon
Fairly common in most areas
Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes pacificus
3 around Montana de Oro SP
Bewick's Wren Thryomanes bewickii
Fairly common in all areas
Cactus Wren Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus
1 at Salton Sea SRP HQ and 1 at Las Flores Drive, Brawley
Rock Wren Salpinctes obsoletus
2 on the Tufa at the south side of Mono Lake, 1 opposite Tollhouse Spring, White Mountains and 2 along Panocho Road
Canyon Wren Catherpes mexicanus
One was seen briefly at Montana de Oro SP
Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris
One in the NW corner of Mono Lake, by the broadwalk
American Dipper Cinclus mexicanus
Pohono Bridge, Yosemite, one was seen in the early morning. This is along H-140 where the road splits at the west-end of the park, I don't know where they go in the afternoons as the river is infested with people
Golden-crowned Kinglet Regulus satrapa
One was seen at Summit Meadow, Yosemite
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea
2 at Cedar Flats and 4+ at Grand View C/Gs, White Mountains, also 2 at Finney Lake
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher Polioptila melanura
1 at Wister Unit, Salton Sea and 2 at Finney Lake
California Gnatcatcher Polioptila californica
2 fem/imms along Back Bay Drive, Upper Newport Bay
Western Bluebird Sialia mexicana
1 fem-Kern River preserve, 7 along I-33 to Mt Pinos, 20+ at Pine Mountain, 7 at Pozo Road off H-58 and 6 along Panocho Road
Mountain Bluebird Sialia currucoides
7 (1 imm) on Tuolumne Meadow, Yosemite, 5+ (3 imm) Bodie and 4 imms roosting at Mammoth Lakes
Townsend's Solitaire Myadestes townsendi
3 brief sightings along Glacier point Road, Yosemite, check the tops of large dead trees and scan the skies for them flying across
Swainson's Thrush Catharus ustulatus ustulatus
Single at Montana de Oro SP
American Robin Turdus migratorius
Regular sightings, not as common as I thought they would be
Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
Common in all areas
Sage Thrasher Oreoscoptes montanus
c25 at Bodie and c15 on the south side of Mono Lake, some showing extremely well feeding on the shoreline and 2 at north end of Crowley Lake
California Thrasher Toxostoma redivivum
6 at Montana de Oro SP, 1 Moses Spring Trail and 2 at Chalone Creek picnic area, Pinnacles NM
Crissal Thrasher Toxostoma crissale
1-2 in mosquite by Buchannan Road at north end of Salton Sea. We spent much of the early morning around Sheldon Reservoir with no luck, but the area we thought was being described in the book was being cleared for farmland
Le Conte's Thrasher Toxostoma lecontei
Superb views in the heat of the day near Maricopa, it was in sparse mosquite 300 yards on from Kerto Road by 3 telegraph poles. Rather than running away it flew away landing on open ground calling, with another calling back. At Jawbone Canyon I had brief views of one running away like a mouse and one flying past, although we were there in the afternoon, in unbelievable heat - take plenty of water as a lot of walking may be required.
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
Phainopepla Phainopepla nitens
A fem/imm at Silver Saddle Resort was followed by 11 along I-33 to Mt Pinos and 4 at Pine Mountain
Orange-crowned Warbler Vermivora celata lutescens
3+ at Summit Meadow, Yosemite, 4-McGill C/G and 10+ Iris Meadow, Mt Pinos were the highest counts
Nashville Warbler Vermivora ruficapilla
2 at Summit Meadow, 2-burnt area-Yosemite, 2-Silver Saddle resort, 2-Wister Unit, Salton Sea and 3-Iris Meadow, Mt Pinos
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's Warbler) Dendroica
15+ at Summit Meadow, Yosemite and 10+ around McGill C/G, Mt Pinos were the highest counts
Black-throated Grey Warbler Dendroica nigrescens
1 at Summit Meadow and 4+ at Grand View C/G, White Mountains
Townsend's Warbler Dendroica townsendi
7+ in pines at Montana de Oro SP and a single at Andrew Morela SP, Big Sur
Hermit Warbler Dendroica occidentallis
1 at Summit Meadow, Yosemite and 5 around McGill C/G, Mt Pinos
Blackpoll Warbler Dendroica striata
A male was at Silver Saddle resort on 31st
Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia
Commonest warbler along with Wilson's away from Yosemite, where Yellow-rumped was the commonest
MacGillivray's Warbler Oporornis tolmiei
3+-Summit Meadow, 1-Chevron meadow, 1-Burnt area and 2-Silver Sadddle resort
Wilson's Warbler Wilsonia pusilla
Fairly common, as Yellow Warbler
Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas
Singles at Morongo Valley, Upper Newport Bay and Montana de Oro SP
Yellow-breasted Chat Icteria virens auriccollis
An elusive bird was seen at Kern River preserve
American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla
An immature was with a large feeding flock around McGill C/G, Mt Pinos
Summer Tanager Piranga rubra
Pair at Kern River preserve were followed next day by 5+ (3+ males)
Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana
Regular sightings, no summer males were seen. 1-Tollhouse Spring-White Mountains, 4-Silver Saddle resort, 1-Morongo Valley and 2 along I-33 to Mt Pinos
Green-tailed Towhee Pipilo chlorurus
c15 in Bodie area, 1 on south side Mono Lake, 2 at McGill C/G and 1 at Iris Meadow, Mt Pinos
California Towhee Pipilo crissalis
Common away from Salton Sea area, especially at Montana de Oro SP
Abert's Towhee Pipilo aberti
Common in mosquite around Salton Sea, including c15 at Buchannan Road
Spotted Towhee Pipilo maculatus
Seen at several sites in all areas, of these often elusive birds, listen for the rustling of the leaf litter
Rufous-crowned Sparrow Aimophila ruficeps
2 on Tuolumne Meadow, 3 along I-33, 3 around McGill C/G and 5+ on Iris Meadow, Mt Pinos
Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina
c10 in Bodie area and small numbers in White Mountains and Kern Valley preserve
Brewer's Sparrow Spizella breweri
Singles at Summit and Tuolumne Meadows-Yosemite, 2 Saddlebag Lake and 5 at south side of Mono Lake
Lark Sparrow Chondestes grammacus
3 at Kern River preserve, 1 at Morongo Valley and 2 at Santa Margarita
Black-throated Sparrow Amphispiza bilineata
A single was at Jawbone Canyon
Sage Sparrow Amphispiza belli
nevadensis -a single by the spring at Bodie and 2 in sage north of Crowley Lake
canescens - 2 were seen in same area as Le Conte's Thrasher near Maricopa
belli - 4 along the stream near Chalone Creek picnic area, Pinnacles NM
Fox Sparrow Passerella iliaca stephensi
c6 in the low scrub in the burnt area along Glacier point Road
Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis
Common around Mono Lake and smaller numbers elsewhere of the nevadensis race. Birds of the beldingi race were noted at Upper Newport Bay and Bolsa Chica SR in small numbers
'Long-billed Sparrow' P.s. rostratus
Singles were seen at the end of McDonald Drive-Salton Sea, Salton Sea NWR and Back Bay Drive, Upper Newport Bay, of this very distinctive, yet non-descript race
Lincoln's Sparrow Melospiza lincolnii
4 Summit Meadow and several in other meadows along Glacier point Rd, Yosemite
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia heermanni
Very common around Kern River preserve and seen at others sites in fair numbers
Vesper Sparrow Pooecetes gramineus
c5 on the west side of Mono Lake and 3+ at both C/Gs in White Mountains
White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys
3 (1imm) on Tuolumne Meadow were of the oriantha race
The nuttalli race was common along the coast, often seen in flocks of 20+
Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis
Fairly common, especially around Summit Meadow, Yosemite and Iris Meadow, Mt Pinos of the 'Oregon' type
1-2 seen well at Iris meadow, Mt Pinos were of the 'Grey-headed'
Black-headed Grosbeak Pheucticus melanocephalus
Single 1st/males at burnt area-Yosemite, Tollhouse Spring-White Mountains, 2-Silver Saddle resort and Morongo Valley
Blue Grosbeak Guiraca caerulea
A fem/imm showed very well along Back Bay Drive, Upper Newport Bay
Indigo Bunting Passerina cyanea
An immature male was seen at Silver Saddle resort
Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta
2 along H-140 through lowlands to Yosemite and 2 in sage north of Crowley Lake
Yellow-headed Blackbird Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
9 in NW corner of Mono Lake and noted in 'blackbird' flocks around Salton Sea
Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
Common, although outnumbered by Brewer's, most appeared to be 'Bicoloured Blackbird'
'Kern bicoloured Blackbird' A.p. aciculatus c30
were seen at Kern River preserve
Tricoloured Blackbird Agelaius tricolor
7+ males and several possible females seen in cattails along Castroville Blvd, near Elkhorn Slough amongst a huge flock of 'blackbirds'. Several were amongst other blackbirds along the approach road to Point Reyes
Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus
Sadly these grotesque birds were seen, 1 at Diaz Lake was followed by several around Salton Sea
Brewer's Blackbird Euphagus cyanocephalus
Very common, large flocks seen around cattails
Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater
Noted, though not as common as Brewer's Blackbird
Hooded Oriole Icterus cucullatus
A fem/imm in Oaks along Pozo Road, off H-58
Bullock's Oriole Icterus bullockii
A fem/imm along H-140 through Central Valley lowlands
Purple Finch Carpodacus purpureus
Regular sightings in High Sierra
Cassin's Finch Carpodacus cassinii
4+ fem/imm at Summit Meadow and a male in burnt area, Yosemite
House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus
Very common around lowland areas and coast
Red Crossbill (a.k.a Common Crossbill) Loxia curvirostra
2 immatures seen feeding on the ground at Grand View C/G, White Mountains
Pine Grosbeak Pinicola enucleator
An obliging juvenile was at Summit Meadow for a bathe, and 1 flew over, calling, Tuolumne Meadow, Yosemite
Pine Sisken Carduelis pinus
Heard and seen flying over regularly at Yosemite, occasionally seen in the tree tops
American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis
Seen along the coast with large numbers at Elkhorn Slough
Lesser Goldfinch Carduelis psaltria
Fairly common in most areas, especially at Kern River preserve
Lawrence's Goldfinch Carduelis lawrencei
It came to the last roll of the dice, with this much-wanted species. 7 (2 males) were feeding along the stream south of Chalone Creek picnic area. Patience was required for this one, waiting for its face to show- 'IT'S BLACK!'
Evening Grosbeak Coccothraustes vespertinus
Pair at the base of Glacier point road of these attractive birds
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Seen along H-140 through the lowlands, at Ellerey Lake along H-120 near Yosemite, 2 at Bodie and 1 along Panocho Road
1 at Bodie
One showed extremely well at Montana de Oro SP campground
Black & white Skunk
Singles at Mammoth Lakes and running across the road several sites, also several road kills noted
8 at Chevron meadow, Yosemite and 1 at north end of Crowley Lake
Black-tailed Jack Rabbit
Seen in the sage areas of the High Sierra and the mosquite areas of the deserts
Round-tailed Ground Squirrel
Several sightings around Salton Sea, though not that many seen with Burrowing Owls
Ground Squirrel sp.
Several seen on open ground in the High Sierra
Tarantula - A single male living dangerously as it attempted to cross the road at Pinnacles NM
The highlight of the Santa Cruz pelagic, 3 of the 4 were only 300 yards away, showing their flukes - an incredible sight. 7 distant views were had on the Bodega Bay pelagic
5 on Santa Cruz and 4 on Bodega Bay pelagics
Baird's Beaked Whale
4 on Bodega Bay pelagic
Mola Mola (a.k.a Sunfish)
1 on Santa Cruz and 2 on Bodega Bay pelagics
Pacific White-sided Dolphin
7 on Santa Cruz and c500 on Bodega Bay pelagics, including several bow riding - an incredible sight
Northern Right Whale Dolphin
c650 of these gorgeous creatures were seen on Bodega Bay pelagic, with several bow riding
c30 on Bodega Bay pelagic, once again, these were also bow riding
2 on Bodega Bay pelagic
11 on Bodega Bay pelagic
Many of these delightful creatures were seen off the Big Sur coast and on the Santa Cruz pelagic, but best views were had at Moss Landing, where one was feeding feet off the shore by the pipes with 2 seals
5 on Santa Cruz pelagic and several at Ano Neuvo and on Boedga Bay pelagic
Northern Elephant Seal
c200 of these huge, ugly beasts were residing on the beach at Ano Neuvo
Northern Fur Seal
2 on Bodega Bay pelagic
Several seen in Morro Harbour and close inshore along the coast
Several of these amazing insects seen around Salton Sea
Seen regularly in Central Valley and Salton Sea
Seen around Ramer Lake
Commonest form of odonata. Seen at most sites, but several thousand seen at every stop along the stream at Yosemite, only 2 seen perched!
Seen in similar areas as Green Darner but in very small numbers. Commonest on meadows in Yosemite, where Green Darner was absent, rarely landed
Seen regularly was a common damselfly-type, but a much deeper and brighter blue
Seen in small numbers at a number of sites, commoner along the coast
Seen in small numbers along coast
Several noted in the High Sierra, large colony present along McGurk Trail, Yosemite
Clouded Yellow-type sp.
2 noted along McGurk Trail, Yosemite and noted at other sites
*several other species seen, but no details taken.
Field Guide to the Birds of North America - National Geographic
Birding Northern California - John Kemper/Falcon
A Birder's Guide to Southern California - Brad Shram/ABA/Lane
Several sources off the internet (where would we be without it?!)
If you have any queries I can be contacted: James
Eaton, Derbyshire, England