By the time I had finished mounting the new panniers (saddle bags) on my bike the rain had pretty much stopped, so loaded up and took my scope down to Shoreline Park for a little seawatch.
Seawatch, Shoreline Park
It was somewhat quiet out over the water. There were the usual Pelicans, Loons, and Cormorants, etc out there. I did find a Parasitic Jaeger, which breaks yesterday's drought on new species. I actually could have found it with just binoculars, but it was fun to watch through the scope as it chased after terns and gulls to try and steal their food. I rode back up the hill to home, the extra weight of the scope was not too bothersome. I do not plan on hauling the scope every day, but it is nice to know I can when needed.
Having some spare time, and seeing reports that the Gray Hawk had been seen again in Carpinteria, I set out to see if I could find it. The Gray Hawk was first found by Eric Culberston on October 25, 2012. At that time it was an immature bird (see photo below I took around that time). It was the first recorded sighting of this species in California - it's normal range is from Southern Arizona down into South America. Birders came from all over the state to see it (and still do).
It has returned to winter for the seasons of 2013-14 (with adult plumage) and now 2014-15. It is interesting how certain birds migrate to the "wrong" place their first year, then continue to return to the same spot in subsequent years. There have been, and are, a number of these instances in the Santa Barbara area. These birds are referred to in the singular, as in "the Gray Hawk". There is also "the Vermillion Flycatcher", "the Grace's Warbler", and I am sure others that are not coming to mind at the moment. Apparently years back there was "the Zone-tailed Hawk" but that was before I started paying attention.
Gray Hawk (Immature), Carpinteria Ca Nov 2012
I was about 1/4 of a mile from the most usual spot to see the Gray Hawk, when a bird dropped off a telephone pole into the grass below. I stopped and waited. The bird rose up and landed nearby on the wire - hello Gray Hawk! It stuck around long enough for a few photos, then flew off. Well, that was easy!
Gray Hawk on a gray day.
Gray Hawk, underside.
Now with unexpected time on my hands, I decided to head to nearby Toro Canyon Park in search of a Brown Creeper or two. Now, distance-wise the park was close, but it requires an unpleasant climb of 800+ feet in about 2 miles. I just love to push my bike up those 14% grades!
I did make it to the park, and it only took about 10 minutes to find a tree with not 1 but 2 Brown Creepers in it (I confess, I was here last month and found 3, so I did have some inside info).
I love these little birds. I think they are rather cute as they climb around the trunks and branches of trees looking for insects and insect-like creatures to eat.
I did manage some unspectacular photos (it was really dark in there). As you can see they have some pretty good camouflage going on. Note in the lower photo the bird's feet out to the side gripping the bark of the tree.
I was very happy to find this species as they can be somewhat difficult to track down, especially in the lower elevations near the coast. Since I did find them I should not have to drag myself up the hill to Toro Canyon Park again this year. Yay!
Brown Creeper, Toro Canyon Park
Brown Creeper, Toro Canyon Park
Today was a nice rebound from yesterday's shutout!
With the addition of today's 3 species, the year's total stands at 150.