Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oct 13 (Day 286) - Oxnard and eastern strays.....

Yesterday evening, a Mourning warbler was reported from the Laguna Tams. This is a bird that I did not see in Texas, and thus I wanted to look for it today. I spent the entire day in the area where the bird was originally found, and there were quite a number of other local birders who joined the search. Despite what I deem to be an incredibly thorough scouring of the area, we were not able to turn up the warbler. It also looks as though, after reviewing photos taken by other birders, that the warbler could possibly be some sort of hybrid. Whatever the story, between the slight doubt on the ID and the inability to find the bird in question, Mourning warbler did not join the year list today. 

As an aside, expects are being called in to assess the photos of the mystery warbler that I posted two days ago. This bird is clearly different from the putative Mourning warbler for which we searched today (comparisons of photos of each bird confirm this). There has been quite a bit of support for Connecticut warbler, but for right now I am leaving it as unidentified. Not only would CT warbler be a year bird for me, but it is incredibly rare to find one in California. Maybe 1 a year is found in the state! If all the experts say "this is certainly a CT warbler" then I would have to think about whether to add it to the list or not. I highly doubt there will be any form of definitive consensus, so I think this will render the decision to add it to the year list completely moot.

This is not the first episode of this sort from this year. In the first week of the year (Jan 6), I found the following gull on Revere Beach in Boston. These photos made the rounds to the experts, and the results were far from conclusive. Thayer's gull, Iceland gull, "Kumlien's" gull, Glaucous-winged gull, and "Nelson's" gull were all proposed. Discussing these confusing IDs is a great way to learn bird identification!

OK, before I get too wrapped up in old news, there was quite a bit of exciting bird news from today - especially for California birders. While we did not find the Mourning warbler, we did find 4 other eastern strays including American redstart (photo'd 2 days ago), Magnolia warbler, Blackpoll warbler, and Black-and-white warbler! This grouping shows what an incredible migrant trap that the Laguna Tams have become.

Magnolia warbler

Blackpoll warbler

Black-and-white warbler

Townsend's warbler - lots of these today

Tomorrow I will finally head into LA to see Sonia, visit her family, and search for Spotted dove. Its gonna be about 80 miles, so I need to get some rest!

Just 21 miles today

Lastly, I want to give a special shout-out to John Mueller who hosted me during my time in Ventura/Oxnard/Camarillo. We had a good time birding and photographing together the last few days. He even unearthed a Philadelphia vireo near his house yesterday! He is actually a professional photographer (wedding, portrait) so if you're in SoCal and need some shots of whatever, check out his website. Here's one his wife, Jessica, took of us in his yard.

Me and John

Me (before I dropped ice cream on his loaner shirt!)


  1. One of the things I actually find appealing about birding is that some of the birds will always remain a mystery. On the other hand, your photo of the Magnolia Warbler solves a mystery for me. I saw this bird Saturday AM after you left the Tams with John, but had been unable to ID. I called some folks over but the bird was uncooperative and I had to leave.


  2. Thanks so much for sharing your stories with us, your humor, your take on politics and life. I know your project will just be a catalyst for more great endeavors. Safe travels.

  3. Hi Dorian, Look at the NPR segment on biking and calories!
    Bon appetit!