Brown Pelican and Western Gulls, Morro Bay


Monterey, Big Sur, and Southern California
26 Sep - 4 Oct 2006
Tour Guide: Henry Detwiler

A awesome week of desert, pelagic, and coastal birding with Julie and Dennis in beautiful California.

215 species--bird list is at the bottom of the page
Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized shots.


Pfeiffer Burns State Park

At Big Sur State Park we got our first looks at towering Redwoods and added the reclusive (for us, anyway) American Dipper feeding in the middle of the river.

Today we headed down Highway 1, marveling at the beautiful coastline and enjoying forest birds like Chestnut-backed Chickadee and Steller's Jay. 

Redwoods at Big Sur

Pfeiffer Burns State Park


South of Big Sur Park I spotted some suspects cruising the ridgeline, and pulled over in a rush.  They turned out to be a flock of California Condors!  Later, we saw two condors even more closely, sporting colorful heads and gleaming white wing linings.

Elephant Seals

Just north of Morro Bay we saw a "herd" of Elephant Seals hauled out on the beach.  We reached the town just as the sun was setting--a truly glorious sight!

White-headed Woodpecker
San Gabriel Mts. 

Monday morning we headed north into the San Gabriels, where the birds once again outnumbered the cars on the road.  Our first stop yielded Band-tailed Pigeons and Western Bluebirds.  Higher up we came upon more White-headed Woodpeckers than I'd ever seen in one place before, and at the top of the mountain we got a few Clark's Nutcrackers.

Sunday brought rain and chilly temps, but with perseverance we found a few Yellow-billed Magpies.  A trip up to Mt. Pinos was thwarted mid-way by the "Day" fire, and then we got snarled in the infamous LA County traffic on our way to Santa Clarita--but our steak dinner was good!

Band-tailed Pigeon
San Gabriel Mts.


Willet, San Elijo Lagoon

The "Drip" at Cabrillo National Monument was good for this jay and an early Fox Sparrow.

San Elijo Lagoon proved reliable for California Gnatcatcher and numerous shorebirds. 

Western Scrub-Jay, Point Loma

Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Caspian Way

At Caspian Way we searched for a reported Yellow-crowned Night Heron.  We looked for it at the wrong address at first, and found his neighbor, the Black-crowned Night Heron dozing high in the middle of a Eucalytus Tree.  When we went next door--there was Mr. Yellow-crowned--preening in the same location, in the same kind of tree, just one building over!


Pacific Golden-Plovers, Tijuana River mouth

A long, sandy, walk the night before had yielded no Pacific Golden-Plovers.  However, with a little luck and sharp-eyed spotting, we eventually hooked up with these two beauties early on Wednesday morning. 

After a bee-line drive to the Salton Sea, we were once again surrounded by a myriad of fantastic birds.

Brown Pelicans

Osprey, Salton Sea

Brown Pelicans littered the snags, and a variety of raptors shared the dead branches with them.

At one time we had eight pelicans, an osprey, and this Peregrine Falcon in the same tree.

Peregrine Falcon, Salton Sea

Brown Pelican  

We struck out on the Spotted Dove in Niland, but did see all the other expected species there: Inca, White-winged, Mourning, Eurasian Collared-Dove, and Common Ground-Dove. We made it back to Yuma by 6:00 pm, several hundred birds richer for our week-long adventure!



California, 26 Sep - 4 Oct 2006

1 Red-throated Loon
2 Common Loon
3 Pied-billed Grebe
4 Horned Grebe
5 Red-necked Grebe
6 Eared Grebe
7 Western Grebe
8 Clark's Grebe
9 Flesh-footed Shearwater
10 Sooty Shearwater
11 Pink-footed Shearwater
12 Northern Fulmar
13 Buller's Shearwater
14 Ashy Storm Petrel
15 American White Pelican
16 Brown Pelican
17 Brandt's Cormorant
18 Double-crested Cormorant
19 Pelagic Cormorant
20 Least Bittern
21 Great Blue Heron
22 Great Egret
23 Snowy Egret
24 Little Blue Heron
25 Reddish Egret
26 Cattle Egret
27 Green Heron
28 Black-crowned Night Heron
29 Yellow-crowned Night Heron
30 White-faced Ibis
31 Canada Goose
32 Tundra Swan
33 American Wigeon
34 Blue-winged Teal
35 Mallard
36 Northern Shoveler
37 Northern Pintail
38 Green-winged Teal
39 Redhead
40 Ring-necked Duck
41 Surf Scoter
42 Common Merganser
43 Ruddy Duck
44 Osprey
45 White-tailed Kite
46 Northern Harrier
47 Sharp-shinned Hawk
48 Cooper's Hawk
49 Red-shouldered Hawk
50 Red-tailed Hawk
51 Golden Eagle
52 American Kestrel
53 Merlin
54 Peregrine Falcon
55 Prairie Falcon
56 Chukar
57 California Quail
58 Gambel's Quail
59 Clapper Rail
60 Common Moorhen
61 American Coot
62 Black-bellied Plover
63 Pacific Golden Plover
64 Snowy Plover
65 Semipalmated Plover
66 Killdeer
67 Black Oystercatcher
68 Black-necked Stilt
69 American Avocet
70 Greater Yellowlegs
71 Lesser Yellowlegs
72 Willet
73 Wandering Tattler
74 Spotted Sandpiper
75 Whimbrel
76 Long-billed Curlew
77 Marbled Godwit
78 Ruddy Turnstone
79 Black Turnstone
80 Surfbird
81 Red Knot
82 Sanderling
83 Western Sandpiper
84 Least Sandpiper
85 Dunlin
86 Short-billed Dowitcher
87 Long-billed Dowitcher
88 Wilson's Phalarope
89 Red-necked Phalarope
90 South Polar Skua
91 Turkey Vulture
92 Laughing Gull
93 Pomarine Jaeger
94 Parasitic Jaeger
95 Franklin's Gull
96 Heerman's Gull
97 Ring-billed Gull
98 California Gull
99 Herring Gull
100 Yellow-footed Gull
101 Western Gull
102 Caspian Tern
103 Royal Tern
104 Elegant Tern
105 Common Tern
106 Forster's Tern
107 Black Tern
108 Black Skimmer
109 Common Murre
110 Pigeon Guillemot
111 Cassin's Auklet
112 Rhinoceros Auklet
113 Rock Pigeon
114 Band-tailed Pigeon
115 White-winged Dove
116 Mourning Dove
117 Inca Dove
118 Common Ground-Dove
119 Ruddy Ground-Dove
120 Eurasian Collared Dove
121 Greater Roadrunner
122 Burrowing Owl
123 Lesser Nighthawk
124 Anna's Hummingbird
125 Belted Kingfisher
126 Acorn Woodpecker
127 Red-naped Sapsucker
128 Ladder-backed Woodpecker
129 Downy Woodpecker
130 Hairy Woodpecker
131 White-headed Woodpecker
132 Northern Flicker
133 Western Wood Pewee
134 Gray Flycatcher
135 Pacific Slope Flycatcher
136 Black Phoebe
137 Say's Phoebe
138 Vermilion Flycatcher
139 Cassin's Kingbird
140 Loggerhead Shrike
141 Hutton's Vireo
142 Stellar's Jay
143 Western Scrub Jay
144 Clark's Nutcracker
145 Yellow-billed Magpie
146 American Crow
147 Common Raven
148 Wrentit
149 Horned Lark
150 Tree Swallow
151 Northern Rough-winged Swallow
152 Barn Swallow
153 Mountain Chickadee
154 Chestnut-backed Chickadee
155 Oak Titmouse
156 Verdin
157 Bushtit
158 White-breasted Nuthatch
159 Pygmy Nuthatch
160 Brown Creeper
161 Rock Wren
162 Bewick's Wren
163 House Wren
164 Winter Wren
165 Marsh Wren
166 American Dipper
167 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
168 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
169 California Gnatcatcher
170 Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
171 Western Bluebird
172 Townsend's Solitaire
173 Hermit Thrush
174 American Robin
175 Northern Mockingbird
176 California Thrasher
177 European Starling
178 American Pipit
179 Yellow-rumped Warbler
180 Common Yellowthroat
181 Black-throated Gray Warbler
182 Macgillivray's Warbler
183 Wilson's Warbler
184 Orange-crowned Warbler
185 Western Tanager
186 Spotted Towhee
187 California Towhee
188 Abert's Towhee
189 Chipping Sparrow
190 Clay-Colored Sparrow
191 Brewer's Sparrow
192 Vesper Sparrow
193 Lark Sparrow
194 Sage Sparrow
195 Savannah Sparrow
196 Fox Sparrow
197 Song Sparrow
198 Lincoln's Sparrow
199 White-crowned Sparrow
200 Dark-eyed Junco
201 Red-winged Blackbird
202 Tricolored Blackbird
203 Western Meadowlark
204 Yellow-headed Blackbird
205 Brewer's Blackbird
206 Great-tailed Grackle
207 Brown-headed Cowbird
208 Purple Finch
209 House Finch
210 Lesser Goldfinch
211 Lawrence's Goldfinch
212 House Sparrow
213 Harlequin Duck
214 Sabine's Gull
215 California Condor

Photos Henry D. Detwiler