The fall Guadalupe shearwater show is back, with tens of thousands of Sooty
Shearwaters streaming back and forth within a quarter mile of the shore. I
counted 1,000 birds/minute passing me this morning, with a huge cloud of
feeding birds (20,000+) near Oso Flaco Lake. Accompanying them were Brown
Pelicans, Heermann's Gulls and cormorants. It's quite a sight, and worth
checking out. With a little patience, other species of shearwater should be
found, as well as the odd jaeger. This concentration of birds usually stays
in the area through September, and I've counted up to 100,000 birds in the
second week of September.
Guadalupe Beach is on the Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo county line. It is
easiest accessed via Rancho Guadalupe Dunes County Park (Exit the 101 at
Main Street in Santa Maria and drive west until you hit the ocean, about 15
miles), or from Oso Flaco Lake, at the end of Oso Flaco Lake road, north of
Guadalupe, on highway 1. Guadalupe, at the intersection of Main Street and
Highway 1, has many restaurants and the Dunes Center, which is worth a
If you decide to bird this area, please remember that Snowy Plovers are
still breeding (at least 1 nest is still being incubated), you have to stay
out of the Santa Maria River estuary, as well as much of the upper beach.
While the estuary didn't offer much this morning aside from 60 Red-necked
Phalaropes, you can scan its mudflats from the beach.