Refugio Road

Florence Sanchez

Today I decided to try something different and drove to the top of Refugio Pass where it meets West Camino Cielo.  I arrived just about 8 a.m.  I was curious to see if I could pick up any upslope migration there.  Results: maybe a little, nothing significant.  I walked a short way down the closed portion of Refugio Road and found a small pocket of activity.  Among the resident birds (Oak Titmouse, Hutton's Vireo, Nuttall's Woodpecker, Juncos, etc.) I found an adult male Black-throated Gray Warbler.  There was possibly one other warbler--something flew over my head and disappeared in an oak tree after giving a chip call when the BTG was still in view.  Also had a House Wren here.

I walked West Camino Cielo through two patches of shady oak woodland with a more open patch in between.  In a madrone well off the road, I had a spiffy male Western Tanager.  It flew into an oak where it was joined by a female.  In the same area was a Cassin's Vireo.  Walking back, a small yellowish green warbler flew into a dead plant and then into oaks beyond.  At first I thought it was a Orange-crowned, but the head pattern was wrong and it had wingbars.  I think it was an immature female Yellow Warbler.   Walked about 100 yards down Refugio Road but found little in the way of bird life.  It was warming up fast, so I headed back down the road.  Just after I got started, I had a Peregrine fly out and start harassing a crow.  That's six different Peregrines I've seen this month!

I ended up the morning at Refugio State Beach.  The estuary mouth is pretty full and there isn't much room or cover for bathing birds, so I don't know how it will be for migrants as fall goes on.  No action there at mid-morning.  I walked up the creek path, hoping perhaps to see the Lucy's Warbler Peter had earlier this week, but struck out on that.  However, I found 2 young Hooded Orioles, a female Western Tanager, and a gorgeous adult female Blue Grosbeak there instead.  The female was a rich, deep chestnut color with very obvious rusty wingbars and a deep charcoal bill.  She stayed in view for a long time.  The creek is shallow but running nicely in the area under the highway and there are sheltered spots for birds to drink and bathe there.  I think this is a spot to watch.

Florence Sanchez