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Summer Birding | Nira Campground, Los Olivos, CA

Note: There is a $10 day use fee.

June 2020 | 2-night Camping Trip

Distance: various | Duration: various | Elevation: 2,400 feet

Habitats: grassland, riparian, woodland.

After an hour drive from Santa Barbara, we arrived at around 3 PM at the campground located at the end of Happy Canyon Road. Since very few campers were present, we were able to easily locate our camp hosts: a female Wild Turkey and chick.

Using the access nearest to our campsite, we went down Manzana Creek to check it out.

A juvenile Black Phoebe with buffy wingbars on its favorite creekside boulder.

Three Steller's Jays fledglings put on a show for us chasing their parents while we were setting up the tent! After a while, this fledgling rested while keeping its mouth open.

After dinner we walked up the road and saw a family of four Northern Flickers. While one flew away, three lingered, most likely two fledglings and a parent.

A male Nuttall's Woodpecker.

On Saturday morning, a shy California Scrub-Jay fledgling.

At the end of the parking lot, there was a sign by the trailhead showing the start of the San Rafael Wilderness. Bushtits were present.

We crossed Manzana Creek and followed the trail along the creek.

Good morning, Mourning Dove.

As we started our hike around 9 AM, the birds were already quiet especially since the temperature was rising quickly. We reached a spot were there was an open field by the creek (on photo to the right behind the trees), and noticed a bird actively grabbing insects on the fly like a Black Phoebe which we had just seen but sounding different.

This bird remained a mystery until the end of the trip, it is only after reviewing the photos on a computer screen that we were able to identify a Western Wood Pewee. A new life bird!

Mystery bird changed location and was easier to take photos although it was constantly catching bugs and coming back to the same perch.

Can you find the Wrentit?

Ash-throated Flycatcher.

Lots of fish in the creek! ...Fishing is not allowed.

Around lunch time we returned to the campground and lingered with the Springwater Dancers by the creek as temperature hit 90°F.

Late afternoon, a Nuttall's Woodpecker and fledgling.

Early morning, on Sunday, the female Wild Turkey and chick were inspecting the campground while most campers were still asleep. It was interesting to observe how they eat in the wild.

As we packed our belongings, a Dark Eyed Junco sang for us.

We only identified 23 bird species over these two days, we heard a Red-tailed Hawk, a White-breasted Nuthatch and a Spotted Towhee. We saw several Acorn Woodpeckers, Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Warbling Vireos and Common Ravens.


Credits and Additional Information


It was fun to observe Steller’s Jay and Northern Flicker fledglings around Nira Campground not to forget a female Wild Turkey and chick. Manzana Creek was flowing making the summer heat more bearable.



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