Just to weigh in late on a crowded topic...
Yes, this past winter I had small numbers of LAGOs coastward (near downtown Los Angeles, vic. Chinatown) where I wouldn't have expected them, in mixed flocks with the two other goldfinches. (I have yet to figure out what makes a site in the L.A. area a consistent spring locale for them, probably since they're pretty nomadic. I've definitely gone looking at "classic" spots for them only to be skunked.)
Just a word about fiddleneck - it's nearly extirpated on the urban floor of the basin (like a lot of native annuals), so "our" birds aren't necessarily feeding on it when they get here. Since it goes to seed so early, it coincides with the height of the nesting season (unlike a lot of asters, for ex.), but I don't know that its availability affects spring distribution that much, since birds are probably trying to load up on insect prey more than seeds in spring (obviously, they'll gorge on it if it's around - they're birds, after all). I'm just not sure it's a "pull", rather than a "push" scenario.
As Bob McKernan mentioned, spring 2011 was incredible for lowland and foothill annuals, so maybe LAGOs just got really common here starting last summer, and the big numbers are resulting in a bit wider distribution now (including coastward). Incidentally, 2012 has been basically a bust for annuals in the hills around L.A. So maybe this bird gets more widespread the year after big wildflower blooms?
Then again (assuming you're still reading), maybe there *is* a coastal shift going on with spring migration this year (see my earlier LACoBirds post about Rufous Hummingbirds on the coast, Violet-green Swallows in big numbers here too, and maybe a few more coastal Swainson's Hawks?). I have to think a lot of April Lawrence's Goldfinches are still in transit, esp. up in Monterey, so might follow traditional migratory paths of other birds.
Oak Park (Ventura Co.)
--- In CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com, Brian Sullivan <heraldpetrel@...> wrote:
> Hi Calbirders
> I've noticed Lawrence's Goldfinches in recent weeks much closer to the
> coast than normal here in Monterey County. I don't normally see them here
> in Carmel Valley village, about 11 miles inland. But this year I'm seeing
> them every day, and on some days much closer to the coast. I checked eBird
> data and it looks like more are being seen in coastal areas this spring
> than in previous years, but the differences are pretty subtle--at least on
> those maps (*http://tinyurl.com/7ah8l5m)*. I'm wondering if others are
> seeing Lawrence's this spring in unusual places?
> *Brian L. Sullivan
> eBird/AKN Project Leader *
> *Photo Editor*
> Birds of North America Online
> North American Birds
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]