Date: 12/2/18 7:48 pm From: Randy Wardle <wrwardle...> Subject: [MBBIRDS] December Birding Email for Santa Cruz County
For those interested, here is the birding email for Santa Cruz County for the month of December. With Alex Rinkert's input, it has been slightly edited from last years version to reflect current conditions. I hope many of you find it helpful.
December is here already and even though the year is ending, there are still many winter birds to seek in Santa Cruz County. While winter irruptives such as American Robin, Varied Thrush, Pine Siskin, and Red-breasted Nuthatch have been scarce, keep watching your feeder for finches, the evening sky for robins, and mountain parks and Loma Prieta for others. Townsend’s Solitaire has been seen at various places in coastal California the past few weeks, and could turn up at the rarely visited Long Ridge Open Space Preserve or Castle Rock SP.
Be on the lookout for late migrant or over-wintering orioles, tanagers, grosbeaks, flycatchers, and warblers which are sometimes found in early December. Least, Dusky, Hammond's, and Dusky-capped Flycatchers have all been found in December, as well as Summer Tanagers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, and the occasional oriole. Over 20 species of warblers have turned up in past Decembers. Check coastal hotspots like Natural Bridges SB, Ocean View Park, and Lighthouse Field SB, especially where there is flowering or fruiting plants such as Eucalyptus, ivy, and other exotics. Bethany Curve hosted a Black-and-white Warbler the past few winters, and may be doing so again; one was seen there this November.
All of the regular duck species can be found now in the county’s waterbodies and ocean, and some rarities may be around as well. Along the coast Long-tailed and Harlequin are rare but possible, and scan for White-winged and Black Scoters among the many Surf Scoter flocks. Check places like Wilder Ranch SP and West Cliff Drive along the mid-county and north coast, and Manresa, Rio Del Mar and Sunset SB on the south county coast. Inland, be on the watch for Eurasian Wigeon which may be sighted among American Wigeon flocks at College Lake and the sloughs in Watsonville. Most species of geese can be found in the Pajaro Valley this time of year, along with rare Tundra Swans which might get blown coastward.
As for sea-watching along the coast, Black-vented Shearwaters are around in small numbers. Be sure to check the coast for birds that may have been blown ashore after winter storms. Now is a good time to search for Rhino and Cassin's Auklets. Seascape Park offers a nice vantage point where one may scan for alcids, scoters, and Red-necked Grebes, and Marbled Murrelets. Gulls are plentiful right now; watch for Glaucous Gulls which are occasionally spotted in December at river and creek mouths.
Finally, coming up on Saturday, December 15th, is the annual Santa Cruz Christmas Bird Count. Last year, we had 174 species on count day and 181 species during count week. Everyone's help is greatly desired and appreciated. If you are interested in participating, please contact Eric Feuss at <ericfeuss...> or call him at 831-477-0280.
There should be lots of great opportunities to bird this month, so get out there as much as you can! Happy Holidays and Good Birding!