California gnatcatcher, LeConte's thrasher, island scrub jay.
- Dear birding friends,
I headed to Southern California with my family last week under the
guise of `visiting relatives for the holidays' but everyone knew
that I was really going to `pad my life-list'!
I was again amazed at how good the ABA birding guides are at
providing pin-point information on where to find `specialty birds',
this time in the Southern California Guide by Brad Schram (2007).
My target list was short: California gnatcatcher, LeConte's thrasher
and Island scrub Jay.
On Saturday December 29 I traveled to the Palos Verdes peninsula to
look for the gnatcatcher. 50 feet from the southern parking area for
the Bluff trail at the Trump Golf Club I encountered both blue-gray
and California gnatcatcher, both foraging and vocalizing
enthusiastically, the former in much greater abundance. At various
points along the trail more of each species were observed. Next I
crossed the highway to another site described in the guide
Forrestral Canyon. On the Quarry Trail, near the hillside spring, I
had great views of California gnatcatcher and was able to get some
decent photos (thanks to Joe Morlan and Kimball Garrett for double
checking the photos for me!) I've posted them at
On Sunday December 30, Kathleen, Liam, Alita and I cruised to Santa
Cruz Island via Island Packers in Ventura (nice trip, helpful crew).
Island scrub jay virtually met us at the dock (well, next to the
rest-rooms) and we saw app. ten of these handsome corvids along the
Nature Conservancy trail. Also found were island subspecies of
orange-crowned warbler, Allen's hummingbird, and song sparrow
rumored (at least by the naturalist from Island Packers) as
potential split candidates. Incidental lifers on the trip were black-
vented shearwater and pomarine jaeger (10 feet from the boat!) and
we were treated to a half hour spectacle of an Orca pod playing cat
and mouse with a California Sea Lion (the finale included a 30
foot `toss' of the Sea Lion by way of the Orca's tale!).
New years day was spent on the east side of the Central Coast
ranges. Near Maricopa, along Petroleum Club Road, app. ¼ mile north
of Kerto Rd. we were tipped off by the distant song of a thrasher
and obtained good scope views of LeConte's thrasher after much
searching. An hour and a half later, along San Diego Rd. (also known
as Panorama Rd.), app. 2 miles east of Soda Lake Road, we found a
flock of 10 mountain plovers in the mix of `crumbly' soil and short
grass on the north side of the road.
Thanks to all who share their information on where to find these