page two [October-December]

These highlights chronicle the year 2007. Created incrementally as new photos were available, the year runs generally "backwards" on this page.

The final rarity of year 2007 was this Indigo Bunting (right) at the Big Sur River mouth on 28 Dec (© Rob Fowler). This species is very rare in northern California in winter, and this is just the 4th winter record for the county. The most recent prior record was a male that visited feeders in Carmel Valley during Mar-Apr 2003 [see photos on 2003 highlights, bottom of page].

The final couple months of 2007 were rather quiet, bird-wise. Christmas Bird Counts at Big Sur and Monterey Peninsula enjoyed (mostly) good weather but fairly average species totals, and there was nothing like the excitement of Brown Booby or Blue-winged Warbler as had brightened counts a year ago. The best bird was a lingering Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at Big Sur R. mouth (left; © Steve Rovell from the Big Sur CBC). It was initially found by visiting birders on 24 Nov but was present off-and-on through late December.

Other birds of interest late in the year included one or two Manx Shearwaters seen on the Monterey Peninsula CBC, two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers on the Monterey Peninsula, two Red-naped Sapsuckers along the Big Sur coast, a couple wayward Mountain Bluebirds to Rancho San Carlos, and up to 3-5 Rough-legged Hawks in the Moss Landing area.

By far the best seabirds of the fall were single Streaked Shearwaters on 13 Oct (25 nmi W of Pt. Pinos) and 14 Oct (2.5 nmi N of Pt. Pinos; photo right © Todd Easterla). Given the distances involved and the remote chances of refinding any seabirds, these were almost surely different birds; both were seen on Monterey Seabirds boat trips. There are now a dozen MTY records, all between late August and mid October.

It was a comparatively slow autumn for routine eastern vagrants, such as Black-and-white Warbler (below; photo © D. Roberson 23 Oct at Laguna Grande), but the diversity of rarities was good (see following photos).

The fall began a movement of montane species. David Styer found this Townsend's Solitaire at Ft. Ord on 22 Oct (a first for that area; photo © D. Styer, right), and there were earlier individuals at Moonglow Dairy 29 Sep (Kent Van Vuren) and the MTY side of Fremont Peak 8 Oct (Alex Gaguine).

Interesting October birds found on restricted-access areas near Salinas in October included an inland Sabine's Gull 9 Oct (juv, photo below left, © Brian L. Sullivan) and up to 3-4 Red-throated Pipit scattered over a week, beginning 9 Oct (B.L. Sullivan). One of those was nicely photographed (below right © Bill Hill). A japponicus American Pipit was found nearby a few days later (Oscar Johnson), as was another near Moss Landing (Rick Fournier). Both Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and American Golden Plover made appearances (Jeff Poklen; photos on his web site).

National Audubon Society had a convention at Asilomar during the first week of October. A field trip to Carmel River mouth was offered, led by Don Roberson, Rita Carratello, and Gary Langham. More than 25 birders participated. It was a very poor day for landbirds. Kasey Foley first spotted a large, yellow-bellied flycatcher but it got away unidentified. Some time later, and up around the bend, someone in the group spotted a large flycatcher high in the canopy. Laurie Szogas got off a couple quick digital snaps, including this one (above left) as the bird took off. By the time any leaders got to the spot the bird was gone, but looking at Laurie's digital display, Don felt it was likely a Great Crested Flycatcher. Note that in the flight shot the tail is spread, and that the rufous inner webs of all rectrices (except the central pair) continue right to the tip of the feather. On our regular Ash-throated Flycatcher, the dark outer web expands at the feather tip to "cut off" the rufous from reaching the tip.

Shortly thereafter the bird was refound for the whole group and confirmed as a Great Crested, just the 6th for MTY (all in late Sep–early Oct). It remained through 13 Oct and many more photos were taken. In Bill Hill's fine shot (above right, taken 7 Oct) the tail pattern is evident, but more impressive is the sharply-demarcated crisp white edges to the tertials. On the uppermost tertial that white edging is very broad and 'bulges' in the center (also on the tertial below that but less prominently). This tertial pattern, the green cast to the back, and the extensively pale base to the long, heavy bill (below; photo © D. Roberson on 8 Oct) exclude Brown-crested Flycatcher, a species that has not yet reached MTY. Note also the dark gray breast which contrasts with the yellow belly, most conspicuously here in the flight shot.

The abbreviation "MTY" means "Monterey County" in the text throughout. Text by Don Roberson. Photos on this page are copyrighted by the photographers to whom they are attributed, and may not be reproduced in any form (including other web sites) without the express consent of the photographer.


More highlights will be posted as they arise and are documented with photos.





Page created 10 Oct 2007