North County Birding

Florence Sanchez

Well, I didn't go to Jim May Park because I was concerned about disturbance from the earth-moving equipment but after reading Jamie's post when I got home, that's where I should have been.

Instead, I started at the San Ynez River Estuary.  Because I was concerned about low visibility form fog early in the morning, I delayed my arrival until about 8:45.  Consequently the tide was coming in and most of the small shorebirds were distant on the island across the channel and tricky to ID even through my scope.  Still, I was able to pull out Least, Western Sandpipers, and Sanderlings from the mix; also a few Semi-Palmated Plovers and Kildeer.  Feeding in the shallow water, I found 2 Marbled Godwits and a Willet.  All along the channel I found groups of Black-bellied Plovers.  There were about 10 Greater Yellowlegs around as well. The juvenile Reddish Egret was working the channels on the ocean side of the trestle this morning.  I had 2 each Caspian and Elegant Terns, and a flock of about 15 Least Terns was resting on the mud across the way.

My next stop was Guadalupe.  Jack O'Connell Park was dead.  I checked the ponds at the next-door Guadalupe Sewage plants and found the usual Mallards, a Coot, and a Couple of Kildeer.  Around the edge I picked up a few Least Sandpipers and 1 Western Sandpiper.  The best bird was an adult female Red-necked Phalarope, still in nice plumage, swimming in the center of one of the ponds.   Next to the sewage ponds, I found a goat pen had been added since my last visit.  With them was a mixed blackbird flock, including several Tri-colored Blackbirds.  There were a couple of Great-tailed Grackles in the park as well.

My final stop was the Santa Maria River mouth.  It was high tide by then, but the overcast was clearing out nicely and surprisingly, there was no wind.  So I hauled my scope through the soft sand until I passed the Plover barrier and could reach the estuary.  I didn't turn up anything unusual there, but it was nice to see 39 White Pelicans resting at the edge along with the Brown Pelicans.  A flock of about 20 Elegant terns had also settled in there along with a couple of Caspian Terns.  I did a sea watch from my car while I ate lunch, but had nothing of great note fly by.  Best sighting was a Clark's Grebe out in the water with another Grebe, probably a Western Grebe.  The bright yellow-orange bill was easily seen even through binoculars.

Florence Sanchez