Friday, April 29, 2005

29th April - Big Sur

Today we had a late start following breakfast at Deetjen’s. I had popped out before breakfast but hadn’t seen much apart from a Wild Turkey. Andrew Molera State Park was good with Swainson’s Thrush, Purple Finches, Pine Siskins, Pacific-slope Flycatchers, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, American Goosanders (or Common Mergansers as they call them here) and much more besides.

Looking back to the hills there were Vaux’s Swifts and a variety of raptors. Most of these were Turkey Vultures, a species which had become very common by this part of our tour. Much bigger though, and quite distinctive despite being very distant, was a California Condor – a nice surprise indeed!

From the river mouth a quick look out to see produced my first Pigeon Guillemot, 30 Pacific Divers and 40 Surf Scoters. Brandt’s and Pelagic Cormorants were breeding and 2 Glaucous-winged Gulls were among the California and Western Gulls.

Further north at Point Lobos there were even more Brandt’s Cormorants (at least 500) and Black Oystercatchers. Most of the Hummingbirds were Anna’s but one was probably Allen’s – not being a male it was impossible to eliminate Rufous though.

Mammals included loads of Sea Otters and a few Harbour Seals. California Sea Lions were very noisy here.

A California Thrasher sat out on a small tree top in full view, the first one I had seen properly. With 5 species of Thrasher possible up to now and time spent looking for all of them, I was relieved to see one well at last.

A bizarre sighting was in the Carmel area while driving along a busy suburban road: a White-tailed Kite flew slowly across the road and landed in a tree beside the road in someone’s garden. Not exactly the habitat I expected to find this in and although there was nothing else it could have been, I couldn’t quite believe it really was one – unfortunately there was no way I could stop here.

Sunset on Asiloma Beach was pleasant with the backdrop of singing White-crowned Sparrows, the likes of Wandering Tattler, Black Turnstone and Black Oystercatcher parading in front of us and Pacific and Great Northern Divers floating by. It was supposed to be romantic but how can I help looking at this lot?



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