Date: 1/21/19 2:14 pm
From: Will Knowlton <willknowlton...>
Subject: [slocobirding] Carrizo Plain - Bird Festival Trip
Peter Gaede and I led a bird festival trip to the Carrizo Plain yesterday. Avian highlights were on the low side, with the usually dependable species being difficult to find, or non-existent. Mammalian highlights were numerous, however (see below for details), and everyone still had a good time enjoying this unique area.

Raptor numbers seemed low, with only a few Ferruginous Hawks being found. We did have good looks at a perched Prairie Falcon and brief looks at a Merlin in flight. No Golden Eagles were found. No Burrowing Owls or Long-eared Owls were found, but we did observe two Barn Owls and one Great-horned Owl. A Bell's Sparrow perched nicely atop a bush allowing everyone in the group to get great views. We spent a while searching for Mountain Plover along Soda Lake Road where they have been seen recently without success. A Greater Roadrunner was seen briefly near KCL campground. Mountain Bluebirds are usually fairly easy to find at this time in the Carrizo, but on this trip we were only able to find one individual, which was fortunately a brightly colored male. A small group of Ring-necked Ducks remained at a private pond adjacent to Highway 58.

The mammal viewing did not disappoint, however. We had good looks at a San Joaquin kit fox snoozing outside its den entrance. An American badger was observed digging up small mammal burrows while a Ferruginous Hawk perched on the ground next to the badger in the hopes that it would be able to catch fleeing prey. A herd of about 125 elk and 17 pronghorn antelope were observed near each other. Many San Joaquin antelope squirrels were also observed running about and being cute.

And for those wondering, Soda Lake was mostly devoid of water, with only a few small puddles being visible.

Will Knowlton
San Luis Obispo, CA

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