Also see the PHOTO GALLERY

following the summaries of the 2016 and 2013 MBWeeks


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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA MBWEEK SUMMARY

January 16 - 24, 2016



Despite our various ailments – Bernice’s bad back, Suzanne’s bum leg, my injured hand, and even Pete’s defective tripod head – we managed to come up with a most successful California trip. Of course, it was easy enough to forget our aches and pains with such pleasant weather while we were there, as the highs ranged between the mid-60s and low 70s each day. And consider all those birds we came up with as we had our highest species number ever for this MBWeek: a grand total of 204 officially, plus 2 “non-countable” parrots, Around 80 of these were non-Minnesota birds (i.e., absent, accidental, or casual in the state), and everyone (except me) had at least one lifer or two – more typically a dozen or two.


Of course, the Streak-backed Oriole in Yuma was the most significant rarity we saw, but there were numerous other highlights. Some of my favorites: the concentration of 450 Black-vented Shearwaters swimming offshore in La Jolla as 2 Brown Boobies roosted on a nearby cliff, with one of these especially photogenic….that handsome dark-morph Ferruginous Hawk sharing a hillside with a Golden Eagle at San Jacinto Wildlife Area….a Black Oystercatcher and Surfbird on the same jetty at the mouth of the San Diego River ….the Mountain Plovers spotted in the distance along with many dozens of closer Long-billed Curlews in the fields by the Salton Sea….our successful day in the San Jacinto Mountains, with both Williamson’s and Red-breasted sapsuckers plus a White-headed Woodpecker….my tips from Brennan and Paul leading us to the pair of California Gnatcatchers by the Malcolm X Library and the Scaly-breasted Munia mania by the Fashion Valley Mall….our studies of both “Sage” Sparrow species near Borrego Springs and at Obsidean Butte….and the hordes of Lawrence’s Goldfinches waiting for us at the ballfields back in Imperial Beach.



Itinerary


January 16 – Arrival & meet in San Diego around noon; Tecolote Nature Center and Marsden House; first of 3 nights in San Diego, first of 3 dinners at Junk House.


January 17 – Navarro Canyon, Lake Murray, Malcolm X Library gnatcatchers, Chula Vista Bayfront Park, Otay Valley Rd greenbelt, Dairy Mart Pond, Tijuana Slough visitors center, and Imperial Beach Sports Park.


January 18 – La Jolla, Rimini Road in Del Mar, San Diegito River mouth, San Elijo Lagoon visitors center, back roads to Fairbanks Ranch, Lindo Lake, and Shelter Island.


January 19 – Munia search along San Diego River by post office and Town & Country Hotel, Robb Field/Dog Park/south jetty, Peace Rock cormorants, Shelter Island, and Marsden House; travel to Hemet via Mountain View Park in Escondido and Live Oak Park in Fallbrook; first of 2 nights in Hemet, dinner at Sweet Baby Jane’s.


January 20 – McCall Park, Idyllwild Nature Center, Idyllwild Co Park, and Hurkey Cr campground in San Jacinto Mts; Bridge Street, San Jacinto Wildlife Area, and Dunlap Street; split up for dinner.


January 21 – Travel to El Centro via Borrego Springs area (visitors center, alleged thrasher sites by the WTP, Old Springs Road, and Rockhouse Road), and Poe & Vendel Roads at south end of Salton Sea; first of 2 nights in El Centro, dinner at Kennedy’s.


January 22 – Salton Sea & vicinity: New River at Carter Road, sea wall access points via Lack Road, Obsidean Butte, Sonny Bono NWR visitors center & Rock Hill Trail; plover search along Kalin Road & vicinity, and Willard Road feeders in Brawley; dinner at Johnny Carino’s / Famous Dave’s.


January 23 – Riverside Park and West Wetlands Park in Yuma; return to San Diego via Fig Lagoon, Sunset Avenue ballfields, and Sweetwater River; final night in Chula Vista, dinner at Black Angus / La Quinta.


January 24 – Those with afternoon flights home to Chula Vista Bayfront Park, 7th Street mudflats, Tijuana Slough visitors center, and Cabrillo National Monument.



Bird List  (boldface species = a subjective list of sought-after specialties, rarities, and other

     highlights)


Greater White-fronted Goose   (Lindo Lake)

Snow Goose

Ross's Goose

Brant   (best Sunday morning at 7th Street)

Canada Goose

Wood Duck

Gadwall

Eurasian Wigeon   (in fading light after a long walk on our last afternoon)

American Wigeon

Mallard

Blue-winged Teal

Cinnamon Teal

Northern Shoveler

Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal

Canvasback

Redhead

Ring-necked Duck

Lesser Scaup

Surf Scoter

Bufflehead

Hooded Merganser

Red-breasted Merganser

Ruddy Duck


California Quail   (McCall Park)

Gambel's Quail


Ring-necked Pheasant   (heard-only)


Pacific Loon

Common Loon


Pied-billed Grebe

Horned Grebe

Eared Grebe

Western Grebe

Clark's Grebe   (Fig Lagoon; also at 7th Street Sunday morning)


Black-vented Shearwater   (450 counted by 10s at La Jolla)


Brown Booby   (2 roosting with cormorants at La Jolla)


Brandt's Cormorant   (some displaying their electric-blue throat pouches)

Neotropic Cormorant   (Fig Lagoon)

Double-crested Cormorant

Pelagic Cormorant   (4 at Peace Rock along Sunset Cliffs Blvd)


American White Pelican

Brown Pelican


Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Little Blue Heron

Reddish Egret   (stake-out at Chula Vista Bayfront Park)

Cattle Egret

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron   (still roosting in those pines in Imperial Beach)


White-faced Ibis


Turkey Vulture


Osprey


White-tailed Kite   (especially cooperative near Fairbanks Ranch)

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk   (incl a beautiful dark-morph at San Jacinto Wildlife Area)

Golden Eagle   (also at San Jacinto Wildlife Area)


Ridgway’s Rail   (best at Chula Vista and San Elijo Lagoon)

Sora

Common Gallinule

American Coot


Sandhill Crane


Black-necked Stilt

American Avocet


Black Oystercatcher   (a nice surprise seen from Dog Park)


Black-bellied Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Killdeer

Mountain Plover   (6 or so distantly near Kalin Rd)


Spotted Sandpiper

Wandering Tattler   (La Jolla)

Greater Yellowlegs

Willet

Lesser Yellowlegs

Whimbrel

Long-billed Curlew   (impressive numbers near Salton Sea)

Marbled Godwit

Ruddy Turnstone

Black Turnstone   (best at La Jolla)

Surfbird   (also seen from Dog Park on the jetty)

Stilt Sandpiper

Sanderling

Dunlin

Least Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper

Short-billed Dowitcher

Long-billed Dowitcher


jaeger, sp.   (mostly leader-only at La Jolla)


Laughing Gull   (also staked-out at Chula Vista)

Heermann's Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Western Gull

California Gull

Herring Gull

Thayer's Gull   (first-winter bird along the Salton Sea seawall)

Glaucous-winged Gull

Caspian Tern

Forster's Tern

Royal Tern

Black Skimmer


Rock Pigeon

Band-tailed Pigeon   (especially at Live Oak Park)

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Common Ground-Dove

White-winged Dove

Mourning Dove


Greater Roadrunner


Burrowing Owl   (we couldn’t stop taking photos)


Anna's Hummingbird

Costa's Hummingbird   (still reliable at 467 Willard)

Allen's Hummingbird   (easier to find than usual)


Belted Kingfisher


Acorn Woodpecker

Gila Woodpecker

Williamson's Sapsucker   (female at Hurkey Creek; also seen here in 2013)

Red-breasted Sapsucker   (Idyllwild Co Park)

Ladder-backed Woodpecker   (mostly leader-only in Yuma)

Nuttall's Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

White-headed Woodpecker   (again at Idyllwild Nature Center)

Northern Flicker


American Kestrel

Merlin

Peregrine Falcon   (finally at Cabrillo Sunday morning)

Prairie Falcon   (Mountain View Park)


(Yellow-headed Parrot  /  not “countable” at Imperial Beach Sports Park)

(Lilac-crowned Parrot  /  Lindo Lake; also “non-countable”)


Black Phoebe

Say's Phoebe

Vermilion Flycatcher   (with the Lawrence’s Goldfinches)

Cassin's Kingbird

Thick-billed Kingbird   (back again in Chula Vista)


Loggerhead Shrike


Steller's Jay

Western Scrub-Jay

American Crow

Common Raven


Horned Lark


Tree Swallow

Barn Swallow


Mountain Chickadee

Oak Titmouse   (especially at Live Oak Park)


Verdin


Bushtit


Red-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Pygmy Nuthatch   (lots in the San Jacinto Mts)


Rock Wren

Marsh Wren   (the Western form - soon to be split?)

Bewick's Wren   (also at Cabrillo Sunday morning, finally)

Cactus Wren


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

California Gnatcatcher   (thanks to a tip from Brennan Mulrooney)

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher


Ruby-crowned Kinglet


Wrentit   (best at Tecolote)


Western Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird   (San Jacinto Wildlife Area)

Hermit Thrush

American Robin


California Thrasher   (best at Tecolote and Cabrillo)

Northern Mockingbird


European Starling


American Pipit


Cedar Waxwing


Phainopepla   (especially around Borrego Springs)


Orange-crowned Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Yellow Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Townsend's Warbler

Hermit Warbler   (stake-out in Del Mar)


Green-tailed Towhee   (2 at Tijuana Slough Sunday morning)

Spotted Towhee

California Towhee   (widespread)

Abert's Towhee   (Salton Sea & vicinity)

Chipping Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Sagebrush Sparrow   (all seemed to be Sagebrush around Borrego Springs)

Bell's Sparrow   (nicely teed up for some at Obsidean Butte)

Savannah Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Lincoln's Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco


Summer Tanager   (in the Hermit Warbler area)


Red-winged Blackbird

Tricolored Blackbird   (especially at Lindo Lake)

Western Meadowlark

Brewer's Blackbird

Great-tailed Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird

Streak-backed Oriole   (certainly worth the side trip to Yuma)


House Finch

Purple Finch

Lesser Goldfinch

Lawrence's Goldfinch   (probably the most I’ve ever seen at one time)


House Sparrow


Scaly-breasted Munia   (thanks to a tip from Paul Lehman)



*          *          *


2013 CALIFORNIA MBWEEK

JANUARY 29 - FEBRUARY 3, 2013



It's hard to know where to begin listing the highlights among all the places we visited and the birds we saw during this MBW's winter escape from Minnesota weather. While things started out on the cool side in San Diego with temperatures "only" around 60, towards the end of the week it was around 70 or better, and there were just light winds most of the time. Even the infamous California freeways were as cooperative as the weather and presented no real traffic difficulties.  


Given these generally favorable conditions, we accordingly found nearly 200 species – 197 to be exact, plus 2 other "non-countables" (i.e., Mandarin Duck and Red-masked Parakeet). Of these, no fewer than 75 were "non-Minnesota" species, so to single out just a few highlights among so many birds presents a daunting task. But the rarest of them all had to be that Curlew Sandpiper, a species I'd seen only twice before anywhere. True, not all of us got to see it, but it was somewhat remarkable any of us did at all, considering how difficult it was to find among so many other shorebirds on those extensive mudflats, and that many other birders missed it entirely.


Some of our other nice finds during our first few days in San Diego and vicinity included such local and easy-to-miss specialties as California Gnatcatchers (as well as Allen's Hummingbirds) at San Elijo Lagoon, very shy Wrentits finally seen well at a few places, and Tricolored Blackbirds at Lindo Lake. And our seawatch at La Jolla was rewarded by lots of relatively close Black-vented Shearwaters, Brandt's Cormorants sporting electric-blue throat pouches, and a close pair of Wandering Tattlers (along with Black Turnstones).


The San Jacinto Mountains above our base in Hemet was especially productive for woodpeckers, as we turned up a pair of White-headed Woodpeckers plus an unexpected Williamson's Sapsucker – and note that both species tend to be hard to find anywhere. We also came up with Red-breasted Sapsuckers, Pygmy Nuthatches, and other montane birds there, and it didn't take long the next day to find two cooperative Lewis's Woodpeckers in the foothills near Julian.


Farther east in the lowlands of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park those two elusive Le Conte's Thrashers we tracked down certainly provided our best find of the day, considering both MBW searches there in previous years came up empty. We found Sage and Black-throated sparrows there as well, and especially memorable were those unique sculptures near Borrego Springs.


Locating that one lone Yellow-footed Gull at the Salton Sea proved too much of a needle-in-the-haystack proposition, but it was unexpected we were able to find both Glaucous and Glaucous-winged gulls there. We also turned up a flock of 100+ Mountain Plovers in the area, several Burrowing Owls and a sleeping Barn Owl, and a nicely posing Sage Thrasher in an alleged Crissal area.


A stop at Jacumba en route back to San Diego provided a Harris's Hawk and another Tricolored Blackbird sighting, and there was time the next morning before returning the rental vehicles to finally find a Eurasian Wigeon in the Sweetwater River and two Lawrence's Goldfinch by the ballfields on Sunset Road.



Itinerary


January 26 – Afternoon birding option at 7th Street mudflats and Tijuana Slough NWR; first of 3 nights in San Diego at Old Town Inn. 


January 27 – Sweetwater River, Rohr Park, Otay Valley Road kingbird site, return to 7th Street and Tijuana Slough, Lindo Lake, and Mission Hills Regional Park.


January 28 – La Jolla, San Elijo Lagoon and visitors center, San Dieguito River, Crown Point Park/Mission Bay, north jetty, Robb Field.


January 29 – Return to north jetty, Dog Beach, Sunset Cliffs Blvd, Cabrillo National Monument, return to plover-less San Dieguito River, and drive to Hemet for first of 2 nights at Quality Inn.


January 30 – San Jacinto Mts: McCall Park, Idyllwild Nature Center and County Park, Hurkey Creek campground, and Highway 74/Hemet Lake; former park along San Jacinto River. 


January 31 – Morning drive from Hemet to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park via Santa Ysabel Mission and the Julian woodpecker site; Anza-Borrego's Tamarisk Grove campground, visitors center, Borrego Springs Rd sculptures (!), and thrasher site; afternoon drive via Salton Sea's Unit One to Brawley for first of 2 nights at Brawley Inn. 


February 1 – Salton Sea and vicinity: Finney Lake, Highway 111 plovers site, Sinclair Road, Sonny Bono NWR visitors center, Bowles Road, and "Seawall" from Young Road to Obsidean Butte. 


February 2 – Willard Street hummingbirds, Carter Road/New River area, return to Seawall and NWR visitors center; afternoon return to San Diego via Jacumba and final night at Old Town Inn.


February 3 – Morning birding option at Pantoja Park, Sweetwater River, Sunset Road goldfinch site, Leon Street, and Dairy Mart Road pond.



Bird List (boldfaced species = non-Minnesota birds: absent, accidental, or casual in MN


Greater White-fronted Goose (Lindo Lake)

Snow Goose

Ross's Goose (east of NWR visitors center on Sinclair)

Brant (closest looks at Mission Bay)

Canada Goose

Wood Duck

Gadwall

Eurasian Wigeon (Sweetwater River on our second try)

American Wigeon

Mallard

Blue-winged Teal

Cinnamon Teal (several sites)

Northern Shoveler

Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal

Canvasback (Jacumba)

Redhead

Greater Scaup

Lesser Scaup

Surf Scoter (San Dieguito R)

Bufflehead

Common Goldeneye (Salton Sea)

Red-breasted Merganser

Ruddy Duck


California Quail (especially McCall Park)

Gambel's Quail (especially NWR visitors center)


Ring-necked Pheasant (of dubious origin)


Red-throated Loon (exceptionally close views at north jetty)

Pacific Loon (fly-bys only at La Jolla)

Common Loon


Pied-billed Grebe

Horned Grebe

Eared Grebe

Western Grebe

Clark's Grebe (best at Crown Point Park)


Black-vented Shearwater (closer than usual at La Jolla!)


Brandt's Cormorant (especially at La Jolla)

Double-crested Cormorant

Pelagic Cormorant (Sunset Cliffs Blvd)


American White Pelican

Brown Pelican


Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Little Blue Heron

Reddish Egret (7th Street mudflats)

Cattle Egret

Black-crowned Night-Heron 


White-faced Ibis


Turkey Vulture


Osprey


White-tailed Kite (several sites)

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Harris's Hawk (Jacumba)

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk (Santa Ysabel Mission)


American Kestrel

Merlin

Peregrine Falcon


Clapper Rail (seen at Tijuana Slough and heard at Unit One)

Sora

Common Gallinule

American Coot


Sandhill Crane


Black-bellied Plover

Snowy Plover (Robb Field)

Semipalmated Plover

Killdeer

Mountain Plover (relatively close along Highway 111)


Black-necked Stilt

American Avocet


Spotted Sandpiper

Wandering Tattler (best at La Jolla)

Greater Yellowlegs

Willet

Whimbrel

Long-billed Curlew

Marbled Godwit

Ruddy Turnstone

Black Turnstone

Red Knot (7th St mudflats)

Sanderling

Western Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper

Dunlin

Curlew Sandpiper (that elusive 7th St rarity seen by most of us)

Stilt Sandpiper 

Short-billed Dowitcher

Long-billed Dowitcher


Bonaparte's Gull

Heermann's Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Western Gull

California Gull

Herring Gull

Glaucous-winged Gull (adult at Obsidean Butte; relatively rare here)

Glaucous Gull (first-winter bird at Young Rd; also rare in S California)

Caspian Tern

Royal Tern

Black Skimmer


Rock Pigeon

Eurasian Collared-Dove

White-winged Dove

Mourning Dove

Common Ground-Dove (best at NWR visitors center)


Greater Roadrunner


Barn Owl (sleeping in a palm by the NWR visitors center)


Great Horned Owl (brief silhouette at dusk)

Burrowing Owl (several)


Anna's Hummingbird (almost everywhere)

Costa's Hummingbird (Borrego Springs and Willard St)

Allen's Hummingbird (again at San Elijo Lagoon)


Belted Kingfisher


Lewis's Woodpecker (2 cooperative birds near Julian)

Acorn Woodpecker

Gila Woodpecker

Williamson's Sapsucker (unexpected at Hurkey Creek campground!) 

Red-breasted Sapsucker (San Jacinto Mts)

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Nuttall's Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

White-headed Woodpecker (again at Idyllwild Nature Center)

Northern Flicker


Black Phoebe (almost everywhere)

Say's Phoebe (ditto)

Vermilion Flycatcher (Crown Point and Sunset Ave parks)

Cassin's Kingbird

Thick-billed Kingbird (staked-out rarity along Otay Valley Rd)


Loggerhead Shrike


Steller's Jay (San Jacinto Mts)

Western Scrub-Jay

American Crow

Common Raven


Horned Lark


Tree Swallow


Mountain Chickadee (common in the San Jacintos)

Oak Titmouse (best at McCall Park)


Verdin


Bushtit


Red-breasted Nuthatch (unexpected at Cabrillo Monument)

White-breasted Nuthatch

Pygmy Nuthatch (best at Idyllwild Nature Center) 


Brown Creeper


House Wren

Marsh Wren (the western form and a potential split?)

Bewick's Wren

Cactus Wren (only at Borrego Springs) 


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

California Gnatcatcher (close pair at San Elijo Lagoon)


Ruby-crowned Kinglet


Wrentit (best looks at San Elijo and Cabrillo)


Western Bluebird

Hermit Thrush

American Robin


Northern Mockingbird

Sage Thrasher (nice consolation along Crissal-less Carter Rd)

California Thrasher

Le Conte's Thrasher (secretive pair at Anza-Borrego's thrasher site!)


European Starling


American Pipit


Cedar Waxwing


Phainopepla (probably still whistling for their dogs)


Orange-crowned Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Chestnut-sided Warbler (staked-out rarity at Pantoja Park)

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Townsend's Warbler (seen by a few on Leon St)


Spotted Towhee

Rufous-crowned Sparrow (San Elijo Lagoon)

California Towhee (common)

Abert's Towhee (best views at NWR visitors center)

Chipping Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Sage Sparrow (Anza-Borrego)

Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Golden-crowned Sparrow (best at Cabrillo)

Dark-eyed Junco


Red-winged Blackbird

Tricolored Blackbird (Lindo Lake and Jacumba)

Western Meadowlark

Brewer's Blackbird

Great-tailed Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird

Bullock's Oriole (brief views on Leon St)


Purple Finch

House Finch

Pine Siskin

Lesser Goldfinch

Lawrence's Goldfinch (cooperative stake-outs the last morning)

American Goldfinch


House Sparrow



*          *          *


PHOTO GALLERY






Eurasian Wigeon, Sweetwater River, 2014

California Quail, McCall Park, 2016

Blue-footed Booby, Lake Skinner, 2014

Brown Booby, La Jolla, 2016

Brandt's Cormorants, La Jolla, 2013

Heermann's Gull with Brandt's Cormorant, La Jolla, 2014

Anna's Hummingbird, La Jolla, 2014

Burrowing Owls, near Salton Sea, 2016

Yellow-footed Gull, Rock Hill Trail, 2010

Surfbird, San Diego River north jetty, 2014

Barn Owl, Sonny Bono NWR Visitors Center, 2014

Nuttall's Woodpecker, San Diego, 2011

Ridgway's (Clapper) Rails, Tijuana Slough, 2014

Mountain Plover, near Salton Sea, 2013

Williamson's Sapsucker, Hurkey Creek Campground, 2016 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

Allen's Hummingbird, San Elijo Lagoon, 2011

Costa's Hummingbird, Brawley, 2016 (Laura Erickson photo)

White-headed Woodpecker, Idyllwild Nature Center, 2016 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

Sagebrush Sparrow, near Borrego Springs, 2016 (Laura Erickson photo)

Phainopepla, Anza-Borrego State Park, 2011

Thick-billed Kingbird, Chula Vista, 2014

California Gnatcatcher, San Diego, 2016 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

Wrentit, Cabrillo National Monument, 2011

California Thrasher, Cabrillo National Monument, 2011

Sage Thrasher, Carter Rd. along New River, 2013

Red-throated Pipit, Imperial Beach, 2010

Lawrence's Goldfinches, Imperial Beach, 2016 (Laura Erickson photo)

Streak-backed Oriole, Yuma AZ, 2016 (Laura Erickson photo)

Tricolored Blackbird (top) with Red-winged, Lindo Lake, 2014

Scarlet-breasted Munia (Nutmeg Mannikin), Tecolote Nature Center, 2014