a web page by Don Roberson
There are many good reasons for a birder to visit the Carrizo Plain in eastern San Luis Obispo County, but Rita and I have most enjoyed our visits during the height of spectacular wildflower shows in April 1991 and again in late March 2010 (this page). Since our visit 19 years ago, this remote and arid wilderness has been designated Carrizo Plain National Monument [among the environmental highlights of the Clinton administration]. The plain itself is a dry sea bed — a part of which fills up with seasonal rains to form Soda Lake, known for hosting Sandhill Cranes in winter — but drying out during hot summers. On the east side of the Plain are the Temblor Range (right), and after the 'right' amount and timing of late winter rain can be painted with abundant wildflowers (right & below).

I do focus on the identification of birds, mammals, herps & odes, but somehow I have no need to put names to flowers. I just like seeing them in profusion when the color palette is overwhelming in places.

While the flower show on the Plain itself was also impressive, we found this Sunday afternoon to be too busy and the roads too dusty for full enjoyment. We found instead that the entire length of Elkhorn Road was readily passable (it can be impassable after rains), and spent some time in quiet gulleys lined with salt brush (left), the prime habitat of some of the rarer birds in Carrizo.


I was very pleased to finally photograph the interior canescens subspecies of Sage Sparrow (left).

Even better was to find a LeConte's Thrasher singing on territory, and to patiently stalk it to approach closely enough for photos (below).

Morro Coast Audubon Society has on-line an outstanding set of directions for birding the Carrizo Plain, prepared by Alan Schmierer and supported by many maps.

Photos: All photos © Don Roberson, all rights reserved.



  page created 29 Mar2010  
all text & photos © Don Roberson, except as otherwise indicated; all rights reserved