Townsend’s Warbler (Setophaga townsendi)Gray morning, bright…

Posted October 11th, 2018 by John Callender

Townsend’s Warbler (Setophaga townsendi)

Gray morning, bright bird. At the local cemetery.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178950466836.

White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus)Carpinteria Bluffs, 2018-10-09

Posted October 10th, 2018 by John Callender

White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus)

Carpinteria Bluffs, 2018-10-09

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178909744376.

debunkshy: Bobolink Schurch-Thomson Prairie, WI,…

Posted October 9th, 2018 by John Callender

debunkshy:

Bobolink

Schurch-Thomson Prairie, WI, 6-18-17

#315

One of those birds I’d always read about growing up but never saw, because it’s an eastern species that’s rare along the Pacific coast.

Hugh (same Hugh who got the amazing shot of the humpback breaching on Saturday’s pelagic trip) reported one from Elings Park in Santa Barbara yesterday, so I got up early today and went looking. Conor was there before me, so I walked up and asked if he’d seen the Bobolink.

“Actually, yeah.” Oh wow; when? “About 5 minutes ago.”

I headed off in the direction he indicated, and a few minutes later I saw it: like a big sparrow, but with an overall yellowish wash, pale lores, and pointed wings when it flew. Yay!

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178898960276.

October 6 PelagicI went on what will probably end up being my…

Posted October 9th, 2018 by John Callender

October 6 Pelagic

I went on what will probably end up being my last-of-the-year pelagic birding trip out of Ventura Harbor last weekend. The sunrise was pretty. And the birds! The official lists are still being tabulated, but it looks good for 6 new county-year birds for me. It gets tricky because we were passing back and forth through Ventura and Santa Barbara County waters – and actually a tiny bit of LA County waters as well. Because of my county year list obsession I was more excited about the Santa Barbara birds than the Ventura birds. But they were all great.

My sister and brother-in-law came along and it was fun to share the obsession with them. M’Liz volunteers with the American Cetacean Society’s gray whale census, so she’s all about the marine mammals; her favorite part of the trip was when we cruised alongside a humpacked whale that rewarded us with a full-on out-of-the-water breach. Hugh Ranson was one of the people who got a photo of the breach in-progress.

I’ll talk about the new county year birds I saw after a cut to preserve your dash.

Note: Except as indicated, the photos below aren’t by me and don’t show the actual birds I saw. They’re photos I googled up that generous people have shared under a Creative Commons license.

#309: Pomarine Jaeger (Stercorarius pomarinus)

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Photo by Martyne Reesman, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

We saw several “poms” as we were heading out past Anacapa Island, and kept seeing them as we headed south into the “donut hole” (the circle of ocean around Santa Barbara Island that has been deemed part of Santa Barbara County for bird-listing purposes). One of the birds even had the breeding-plumage “spoons” (long central tail feathers with a twist at the end) that you can see in this photo. I’ve always wanted to see those!

#310: Craveri’s Murrelet (Synthliboramphus craveri)

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Photo by Tom Benson

We saw (and heard, one time) a few pairs of these as we approached Santa Barbara Island. Later, on the trip home, we saw a few more pairs, then one trio that I assume was mom, dad, and a chick. They were all adorable.

#311: Least Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma microsoma)

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Photo by Alan Schmierer

This is a species that I saw, technically, but would not have been able to identify from the brief look I got if it weren’t for a boatload of experts shouting, “Least Storm-Petrel!” But with the benefit of their input I did notice that this storm-petrel was super tiny compared to the Black and Ashy Storm-Petrels we’d been seeing.

#312: Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii)

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Photo by Vince Smith

This was a biggee for me. I’ve always wanted to see one, and I knew one had been seen on the previous Island Packers pelagic trip (which I didn’t go on). Then one had been seen just a few days before our trip, hanging out at Santa Barbara Island with the big group of Brown Boobies that nested there this year, so we were hoping it would still be there. And… it was!

Hugh’s photo of the bird we saw is here. Here’s a shot from my phone of the upper deck after the excitement had started to wear off:

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The Blue-footed Booby is actually in the shot; here it is cropped and arrowed:

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Those other specks on the cliff are mostly Brown Boobies. It was a very booby day. 🙂

#313: Buller’s Shearwater (Puffinus bulleri)

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Photo by Jamie Chavez

We saw one of these mixed in with the thousands of Black-vented Shearwaters and the few dozen Pink-footed Shearwaters we steamed through in Ventura County waters, so I was primed and on the lookout for another near Santa Barbara Island. No more showed up, though, and I was thinking I wouldn’t get to add one to the county list, when bam! One showed up right next to the boat, zipping by under the bow and giving a beautiful view of that “M” pattern on its upper wings and back. Yay!

These birds are amazing. They breed in New Zealand, then spend the year doing a huge clockwise circle around the Pacific Ocean. Dave Pereksta, the birder who organized this trip, said he thinks they’re the prettiest of the shearwaters. I think he’s right.

#314: Sabine’s Gull (Xema sabini)

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Photo by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren

As we headed back toward the harbor I was happy with the birds I’d seen, and starting to settle into that tired-and-sitting-and-comparing-notes phase that all pelagic trips seem to end on, when the boat slowed unexpectedly. A kelp paddy to starboard had some terns on it… Common Terns, it turns out, which are great birds, though a species I already had for the county year list. But mixed in with them were two Sabine’s Gulls! 😀

Booby addendum:

I’m burying the lead, but the big news from the trip was the boobies: We saw all five booby species in a single day, which Dave Pereksta believes had not been done before in the ABA area:

  • A Masked Booby (my first ever) on Anacapa Island (Ventura County, alas)
  • A Red-footed Booby (also my first ever) that flew alongside the boat as we steamed south (also in Ventura County)
  • The aforementioned Brown Boobies on Santa Barbara Island
  • The Blue-footed Booby on Santa Barbara Island
  • A Nazca Booby that we chased down in a big group of shearwaters southeast of Santa Barbara Island (a great bird, and in the right county, but a species I already saw on a previous trip)

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178893003091.

Townsend’s Warbler (Setophaga townsendi)I never see a Townsend’s…

Posted October 8th, 2018 by John Callender

Townsend’s Warbler (Setophaga townsendi)

I never see a Townsend’s Warbler without a little jolt of excitement. This one was gleaning insects in a cedar at the local cemetery.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178856457271.