Posts Tagged ‘santa barbara county year list’

Dæmon Analysis: Vesper Sparrow

Monday, October 15th, 2018

urbandaemons:

Personality: Cheerful, outgoing, opportunistic. Vesper sparrows like to see the best in people and in different situations. As a rule, they tend to stay with a large circle of friends, and get lonely easily. People with vesper sparrow dæmons may not seek out change, but if it comes their way they roll with it, and they excel at recognising a promising opportunity.

Historical/Contemporary Figure: Jimmy Fallon (TV show host)

Fictional Characters: Kaylee Fry (Firefly)
                                                                                                         – Raylen

#317

I think it’s my favorite place in the county, San Miguelito Road. Every time I’ve gone there it’s felt special. I was thinking about it yesterday, trying to figure out what it is, specifically. I think it’s the lack of traffic. It’s 10 miles deep in the winding hills south of Lompoc. There are a few farms, and a distant view of the ocean, but the road just ends at the locked gate for Vandenberg (where they do the west coast rocket launches), so no one really goes there. I arrived at sunrise and stayed most of the day, walking down the middle of the paved road birdwatching, and in all that time I think I saw four cars on the road not counting mine.

I was there because there’s a Pinyon Jay irruption happening, and last week someone saw the first Pinyon Jays in Santa Barbara County since 2000 along that road. There’s no reason to think they’re still there; Pinyon Jays are notorious wanderers, thinly spread and hard to find even within their normal range, and these were on the far side of the county from where they presumably entered, via the mountains south of Cuyama. But it was as good a place as any to find them, and I really like going there. So I went.

I mentioned in the tags of a different post about all the great raptors I saw: Golden Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, and Prairie Falcon, for starters, each one a legit bird celebrity that would have made my day on its own. But the real star for me were two little brown jobs skulking in the close-cropped grass next to the road: gray-brown streaking, complete white eye ring, light malar patch surrounded by a dark border; yeah! Vesper Sparrow!

I’d been thinking about Vesper Sparrows a lot lately.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/179087258606.

klemannlee:Blue-Winged Warbler#316This was kind of hilarious….

Saturday, October 13th, 2018

klemannlee:

Blue-Winged Warbler

#316

This was kind of hilarious. Nick Lethaby (who finds a disproportionate share of the rare birds in Santa Barbara County) put the word out at 9:28 a.m. that he’d found a Blue-winged Warbler in Carpinteria Creek. This is a big deal; it’s a first county record. And it was 5 minutes from my house, on a non-work day. So yeah; I obviously wanted to go check it out.

But there was a problem: I’d signed up for a table shift at the local supermarket in support of a local ballot measure (Measure X; don’t forget to vote, Carpinterians), and my shift started at 10. I went to Carp Creek and hung out on the 8th Street Bridge as long as I could, but I only had a few minutes and wasn’t really expecting to see the bird. Honestly, I was just thinking well, maybe Nick will be there and will be able to point out the bird to me. No luck, though; no bird, no birders.

At the tabling shift the group texts started coming in: more birders arriving, searching, and eventually refinding the bird, yay! Meanwhile, I was about 150 yards away chatting with shoppers about the city’s budget issues. I got a personal text: “Where are you?”

“I’ll be there as soon as I can!”

At noon my volunteer shift ended and I raced back to the creek. When I got to the bridge and looked upstream I saw the best thing possible: About 10 avid county birders all looking intently at the same point on the creek bank. Yeah!

A minute later I’d joined them and was getting great views of the bird, which was gorgeous.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/179033574046.

debunkshy: Bobolink Schurch-Thomson Prairie, WI,…

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

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…

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

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.

julesofnature: Rose-breasted Grosbeak female “Every day we…

Monday, October 1st, 2018

julesofnature:

Rose-breasted Grosbeak female

“Every day we should hear at least one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture, and, if possible, speak a few sensible words.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

#308

In the eucs by the Lake Los Carneros parking, where I was looking for (and failing to find, again) the male Summer Tanager that’s been seen around there (just not by me) for weeks.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178649310861.