Report on Morro Bay Trip: January 18 through 21, 2024

Nineteen enthusiastic birders tromped at the bit to get out there and finds birds. And find birds they did! Over the course of two full days, we explored twenty-one different areas that generated 128 species for us! Morro Bay is a unique hideaway. One does not just pass through Morro Bay; you have to be going there. Its beauty is remarkable with its huge volcanic cone looking down upon us.

If time were of no concern, one could spend a full day at Morro Rock watching the Peregrine Falcon guarding the rock while cruising at lightning speed OR searching for and finding the Burrowing Owl nestled deep in the bushes just off the side of the parking area. Although both the Canyon Wren and Rock Wren evaded us, their cousin, the Bewick’s Wren was loud and prevalent. All in all, 23 species were found in and around this huge residual core from an ancient volcano.

Inline image

In the photo above, you can see both the rock and the quaint village surrounding it. Our hotel blessed us with an equally stunning view and is to the far right of the photo. Morro Rock was just one of the 21 ecosystems we visited. Other areas included the Elephant Seal breeding and mating area; Whale Rock Reservoir; Montana del Oro State Park. Each area, based on the habitat, produced a collection of different species to add to our sum. Everyone seemed to have a different “special” bird. Many were intrigued by the White-crowned x Golden-crowned Sparrow (hybrid) Adult with a spiffy head pattern: the typical black and white head stripes, but with golden yellow at the front in the areas that should have been white, including forehead and supraloral. The call was very much like a Golden-crowned Sparrow. Others favored such birds as the Red-breasted Merganser, the Common Loon, the single female Black Scoter, the Oystercatchers, and the Black Turnstones chasing around the Elephants Seals and the rafter of Turkeys amongst the cattle.

Finding birds is one aspect to Birding, but ambiance, atmosphere and conviviality are other equally important aspects. They all add up to whether we are going to have FUN. On this trip we had it all. It came together for a number of reasons: (1) our wonderful Guide, Gjon Hazard, and Watson, his very skilled and able assistant, who also goes by the name of Barbara. Gjon was found by a search of top birders in the San Luis Obispo region where he has identified 248 species. He is a very knowledgeable and pleasant person to be with. In preparation for this trip, he and Barbara made two separate trips from San Diego to this area to ensure we were at the right location during the right tide and time of day; (2) the weather held. Last year we had to cancel the trip given that Morro Bay was in the solid grips of El Nino. This year had some iffy periods as well, but last-minute rearranging by Gjon of the day’s destinations kept us dry and allowed us to see all the locations we wanted to see; (3) the comradery that PAS allows its members during the walks; (4) the personalities of all our wonderful 19 attendees which melded beautifully managing to keep our adventure lighthearted and jovial.

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