Leif Rydell

Travel, birding and taking photos as the main purpose.

California February 10

One of my favorite bird groups are the shorebirds and I therefor decided to make a trip to California during winter with my 11 years old son. Many of the "rocky shorebirds" migrate south to California from the Canadian and Alaskan coast. Also the marine wildlife is different in species because of their movements. I made some request at Birding Pal and got good contact with Jim Royer from Los Osos. Jim is an avid birder which was highly appreciated both for knowing the best locations as well as what birds to find. Jim spent a few days with me around his neighborhood and then gave me directions for some good locations when my son and I birded alone. Just outside Los Osos are some excellent rocks by the shore and we easily found both Black Oystercatcher as well as Black Turnstone and (Surfbird).Black Oystercatcher


At a beach close by he showed us the very cute Snowy Plover as well as the tiny Least Sandpiper.

Snowy Plover

Least sandpiper

At this time of the year many, many gulls gather along the coast. Among all the more common ones we saw a few Heermann´s Gulls which is easily identified by its dark mantle and red bill.

Herrmann´s Gull

One day he took us up to the Carrizzo Plain where we spotted a very much sought after bird, the Mountain Plover. I could´t come near them for good photos but here you see me watching them at this excellent birding area. Here we also saw some of the more difficult species as Le Conte´s and Sage Thrasher (no photo). 

Me Carizzo Plain

On the day we started to move north towards Monterey, Jim followed us in his car. The plan was to stop at San Simeon for the N. Elephant rookery. What amazing and odd looking animals. This place is just by the famous Highway 1 and definitely worth a stop. Our goal for the day was to try to sea one of the worlds biggest birds, the Californian Condor which survive with a few individuals further north. As we drove our hope decreased because the weather was not good, a mix of rain and mist. But for some reason the gods were with us and we saw one high up on a cliff with radio transmitters attached to it.

N. Elephant Seal 1

N. Elephant Seal 2

N. Elephant seals

We arrived late to our motel for a good nights sleep. The next day we took a whale safari tour. At the harbor we saw many Californian Sea Lions and Brown Pelicans and just outside a big group of Risso´s Dolphins which has a different shape and profile compared to most other dolphins. Further out the sea was quite rough and I got sea sick. We saw some Grey Whales but not very close.

California Sea Lions

Brown Pelicans

Risso´s Dolphin

Risso´s Dolphin

The last day we stopped at a small park half way back to L.A. Jim has told me we would have a good chance to see some geese and so we did. Not many were around but we still managed to see Ross´s and Snow (at the same photo, look at the different size of their bills) and Cackling Goose which now is considered a full species.

Ross´s and Snow Goose

Cackling Goose

In this park there were also lots of Western Grey Squirrels and Brewer´s Blackbirds as well as the beautiful Am. Robin and Black Phoebe.

W Grey Squirrel

Brewer´s Blackbird

Am. Robin

Black Phoebe

Full bird list of the trip.



  1. Snow Goose. One single bird seen at a recreational park in Santa Maria. Jim knew about the place.
  2. Ross´s Goose. One bird at the same spot as above. Good possibilities to see the different characters.
  3. Brant. 15 birds seen on one of the many beaches we visited.
  4. Cackling Goose. 2 birds seen inland Los Osos
  5. Gadwall. 3 birds different ponds Los Osos.
  6. Eurasian Wigeon. 10 birds as above.
  7. American Wigeon. Quite common.
  8. Mallard. Yes
  9. Blue-winged Teal. Common

10. Cinnamon Teal. Quite common.

11. Northern Shoveler. Totally 4 birds seen around Los Osos.

12. Northern Pintail. Totally 8 birds seen.

13. Green winged Teal. Common.

14. Lesser Scaup. A few at different places.

15. Harlequin Duck. One beautiful male seen quite close when we left the harbour at Monterey for a pelagic trip.

16. Surf Scooter. A few seen from beach.

17. Bufflehead. A total of 6 birds at two different locations.

18. Common Goldeneye. Quite common.

19. Hooded Merganser. 2 birds seen at Avila Beach.

20. Red-breasted Merganser. A few seen.

21. Ruddy Duck. As above.

22. Am. Coot. Quite common.

23. California Quail. Quite common around Los Osos.

24. Red-throated Loon. 3 birds seen from beach.

25. Pacific Loon. More numerous.

26. Common Loon. A few from beach.

27. Pied-billed Grebe. A total of 3 birds.

28. Eared Grebe. A few birds seen.

29. Western Grebe. About 10 birds seen from beach and around Los Osos.

30. Clarks Grebe. One bird seen together with westerns.

31. Am. White Pelican. 3 birds seen.

32. Brown Pelican. About 10 birds seen.

33. Brandt´s Cormorant. A few both Los Osos and Monterey.

34. Double-crested Cormorant. Common at both locations.

35. Pelagic Cormorant. 2 at Los Osos and a few more at Monterey.

36. Great Blue Heron. A few single birds close to water.

37. Great Egret. 2 birds around Los Osos.

38. Snowy Egret. In total 4 birds at different locations.

39. Turkey Vulture. Quite common.

40. White-tailed Kite. One single bird inland.

41. Northern Harrier. One bird at Carizzo Plain.

42. Red-shouldered Hawk. 4 birds in total

43. Red-tailed Hawk. Single birds throughout.

44. Ferruginous Hawk. 5 birds, mainly inland.

45. Golden Eagle. In total 4 birds seen at different locations.

46. Am. Kestrel. A few single birds.

47. Merlin. Up to 7 birds seen, mostly inland and Carizzo Plain.

48. Peregrine Falcon. In total 3 birds. A pair at the coast close to the Condor place.

49. Am. Condor. One proud bird seen at the top of a cliff halfway to Monterey.

50. Black-bellied Plover. One single bird at beach.

51. Snowy Plover. A total of 25 birds at two different beaches. One north of Los Osos and the other close to Santa Barbara.

  1. 52.  Semipalmated Plover. 2 birds in the same area as the Snowy Plovers.

53. Killdeer. Widespread and quite common.

54. Mountain Plover. About 40 birds seen up on Carizzo Plain,

55. Black Oystercatcher. 15-20 birds at different beach locations.

56. American Avocet. Common at good habitats. More than 100 birds seen in total.

57. Spotted Sandpiper. Single birds seen on 3 different locations.

58. Wandering Tattler. One bird seen briefly when arriving to Santa Cruz but unfortunately disappeared when I approached to see it better.

59. Greater Yellowlegs. 2 single birds seen.

60. Whimbrel. In total 20 birds at different locations.

61. Long-billed Curlew. About 10 birds throughout.

62. Marbled Godwit. Quite common at a few locations.

63. Black Turnstone. Common at rocky beaches. 25-30birds seen.

64. Surfbird. Same spots as Black Turnstone but not as common. Aprox. 10 birds seen.

65. Sanderling. Common at beaches, about 80 birds in total.

66. Western Sandpiper. A few at close distant (more than 300 seen at distant which were mixed with Least Sandpiper, did not spend time to decide each bird)

67. 5 birds at close distant (see above).

68. Bonaparte´s Gull. About 10 birds throughout.

69. Heerman´s Gull. About 30 birds at different beaches of this elegant gull.

70. Mew Gull. A few, not fully counted.

71. Ring-billed Gull. Common.

72. Western Gull. Common.

73. Herring Gull. 2 birds found amoung all the big flocks.

74. Glaucous-winged Gull. 4 birds seen at two different beaches.

75. Glaucous Gull. 1 single bird made Jim excited at the Elephant Seal Colony.

76. Caspian Tern. 4 birds seen.

77. Forster´s tern. Totally 8 birds.

78. Common Murre. 20 birds seen up in Monterey, whale watching.

79. Rhineceros Auklet. 2 birds on the whale watching tour.

80. Rock Pigeon. Yes.

81. Band-tailed Pigeon. 20 birds seen at inland location.

82. Eurasian Collared Dove. Seen throughout with single birds.

83. Mourning Dove. As above.

84. Barn Owl. One bird in “stake-out-tree” near the university at San Luis Obispo.

85. Western Screech-Owl. 3 birds heard during owling outside Los Osos.

86. Great Horned Owl. As above.

87. Northern Saw-whet Owl. 5 birds at the same route as above.

88. White-throated Swift. About 10 birds inland on the way to Carizzo Plain.

  1. 89.  Anna´s Hummingbird. About 5 birds seen at different locations.

90. Allen´s Hummingbird. The same as above.

91. Acorn Woodpecker. A few birds at a few different locations.

92. Nuttall´s Woodpecker. In total 3 birds seen at different places.

93. Northern Flicker. A few birds throughout.

94. Black Phoebe. In total 3 birds seen.

95. Say´s Phoebe. About 5 birds at different locations.

96. Loggerhead Shrike. 3 birds seen throughout.

97. Hutton´s Vireo. Two birds just north of Los Osos.

98. Western Scrub-Jay. 8-10 birds throughout.

99. Yellow-billed Magpie. 4 birds seen at a valley on the way to Carizzo Plain.

  1.  American Crow. Quite common.
  2. Common Raven. A few birds.
  3. Horned Lark. Aprox. 20 birds up on Carizzo Plain.
  4. Tree Swallow. A few birds seen.
  5. Chestnut-backed Chickadee. 4 birds near Jims house and 10 more at other locations.
  6. Oak Titmouse. One single bird at an inland park.
  7. Bushtit. About 10 birds throughout.
  8. Pygmy Nuthatch. 3 birds just north of Los Osos.
  9. Brown Creeper. Same as above.
  10. Bewick´s Wren. 2 birds around Los Osos.
  11. Ruby-crowned Kinglet. In total 5 birds at two locations.
  12. Wetern Bluebird. 2 birds inland Los Osos.
  13. Mountain Bluebird. 10 birds seen up on Carizzo Plain.
  14. Hermit Thrush. 3 birds north of Los Osos.
  15. American Robin. Quite common, about 30 birds in total.
  16. Northern Mockingbird. Quite common, about 10 birds in total.
  17. Sage Thrasher. Jim managed to tape in 2 birds up on Carizzo Plain.
  18. California Thrasher. 3 birds at 2 different seed feeders.
  19. Le Conte´s Thrasher. A pair seen after some hard searching at Carizzo Plain.
  20. European Starling. Yes.
  21. American Pipit. 1 single bird seen on Carizzo Plain.
  22. Phainophepla. I bird seen on the road up to Carizzo Plain.
  23. Yellow-rumped Warbler. About 6 birds seen throughout.
  24. Townsend´s Warbler. Also this warbler was seen with 6 examples at different locations.
  25. Common Yellowthroat. 3 birds seen.
  26. Spotted Towhee.  7 birds seen throughout.
  27. California Towhee. As above, likes feeding places.
  28. Vesper Sparrow. On single bird seen up towards Carizzo Plain.
  29. Lark Sparrow. A few single birds.
  30. Sage Sparrow. Up to 10 birds seen.
  31. Fox Sparrow. 1 single bird close to Jim´s house, Los Osos.
  32. Song Sparrow. Heard a few times.
  33. White-crowned Sparrow. Quite common.
  34. Golden-crowned Sparrow. 3+2 birds seen Los Osos and Monterey.
  35. Dark-eyed Junco. More than 10 birds throughout.
  36. Red-winged Blackbird. Quite common.
  37. Tricolored Blackbird. A few birds seen up towards Carizzo Plain.
  38. Western Meadowlark. A few birds throughout.
  39. Brewer´s Blackbird. 10 birds Santa Cruz.
  40. Great-tailed Grackle. 1 bird seen Santa Maria.
  41. Brown-headed Cowbird. Several.
  42. Purple Finch. Quite common.
  43. House Finch. A couple of birds at some feeders.
  44. Lesser Goldfinch. In total 13 birds at different locations.
  45. American Goldfinch. 7 birds seen.
  46. House Sparrow. A few.


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