Grace's Warbler ...follow up
- 4 January 2009 - This is a follow-up from the 2 January posting that Dave Jensen provided. My understanding is that the bird was not seen yesterday, 3 Jan, but it is probably still there and may hang out for the winter. This bird is an EXCEEDING RARE winter visitor to California. From 1980 until 1987 there was a male that returned to Montecita SBA to winter in a small grove of Monterey Pines ...so that bird returned for at least nine consecutive years. Arnold Small's book, California Birds - Their Status & Distributon (1994), states taht wintering birds are previously known from ONLY Santa Barbara and San Diego Counties ...and no where else in the U.S.
So, you can see the importance of this find by David Shuford (I still don't have the details of his finding the bird). Again, it is possible that this bird will continue to stay in the area of Road 500D.
From my observation of the bird twice on 2 January, here are some of the things that I noticed. Frist, our group of multiple birders searched the area near the end of Road 500D both above and below the road. I came across a mixed flock above (east) of the road that included many PYNU and TOWA ... this was almost near Highway 1. I did not see the GRWA here ...but I think this flock contained the bird and I just did not see it. The flock moved downslope in the direction of Road 500D, where others were looking. I moved to join them and to look on the point of land between Road 500D and the ocean. Within a short time a mixed flock appeared about 100-150 feet west of the road ...just west of the Russian Gulch State Park sign. We all kept viewing the birds, some of us walked below the road to get closer. Because of the constant bird activity and thick pine branch foliage one ahd to keep looking at any bird movement ...sometimes the same bird over and over as it flitted from inside the canopy.
Dave jensen and the group finally spotted the bird and whistled to get me to the spot. Finally the bird reappeared and gave a couple of us a great view. That was at 1:00 PM. My son, Ryan & I stayed behind as the rest of the group left, to try to photograph the bird. We refound the bird, which was back again to the saem tree and were able to get some OK photos for documentation purposes.
Here's what to look for: 1) look for the mixed flock with the Townsend's Warblers ...the bird appears to be associated with them ...although the are loosely with the Pygmy Nuthatches and others. 2) As the warblers are flitting in amongst the branches you only get short views of the birds ...look for a bird that appears gray-backed in flight .... this will stand out as the Townsend's have an olive-greenish back. 3) also in flight, look for more white in the tail than shows on the typical Townsend's 4) GET WHATEVER SUNLIGHT there is to your back for good lighting 4) Once you key in on a possible bird ...then look for the yellow throat and the yellow on the front of the face ...not the entire face and head as in the Townsend's Warblers... then try to observe details.
Good Luck and Good Birding ... and please keep posting sightings of this bird. All observer's please provide me with any notes, photos, etc. for documentation purposes.
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