“People often ask me how it is that I seem to be so much at peace. There is a primary reason — and it is available to all who wish to have it. Here’s a simple prerequisite to attaining peace at that level. I invite you to observe the beasts, birds and fish and let them teach you. Let this be a daily routine and life, as you know it, will never be the same.”
– Eddie Bo

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Day 13 - Steady Progress In Goleta

Today I set out for Goleta, there are still a bunch of birds out there waiting to be found.  After I spent a good part of the day there, there remain a bunch of birds out there waiting to be found.  I did make a bit of progress though.

The first addition to the year's list was a small flock of Pine Siskins I saw while pedaling through Goleta.  These Finch-like birds are quite plentiful this winter - some years it can be hard to find a single one.

My first stop was a house in Goleta where a Harris's Sparrow has been visiting the feeder.  Eventually the bird appeared - the first time i have seen this species anywhere!

Harris's Sparrow

My next stop was the old Ocean Meadows golf course.  My primary goal was to find the Loggerhead Shrike that keeps being seen here.  No luck with that (or the Grace's Warbler, which has not been reported in some time) but I did see some Lark Sparrows, which were added to the year's list.  I think these are some of the sportier looking sparrows around, and they were kind enough to pose for photos.

 Lark Sparrow, Ocean Meadows Golf Course

I continued past the Devereux slough, but failed to find anything there to add to the list.  The Allen's Hummingbirds were out in force.  I love hummingbirds!

Allen's Hummingbird, Devereux

After this it was on to Coal Oil Point, where I was hoping to see some shorebirds.  Though the tide was out, there were very few shorebirds to be found, so I continued on to the airport side of the university cammpus to look over the Goleta Slough's "Area K" where a Cinnamon Teal had been seen.  Frustratingly, no luck with the Teal, but I did see a Bewick's Wren.  Somehow this common species had thus far escaped my notice this year.

Next stop, Goleta Beach to follow up on a recent report of a Common Merganser.  These handsome ducks can be rather hard to come by along the coast.  No luck with the Common Merganser, but there was one Red-breasted Merganser there, which ironically are much more common in these parts than the Common Merganser.

Red-breasted Merganser, Goleta Beach

I was lucky enough to find a Clark's Grebe hanging out with the Western Grebes - another new species for the year.  The Clark's and the Westerns are very similar in appearance, but can be distinguished from one another by their bill color and extent of black on their heads (provided that they wake up and lift their heads!)

Western Grebe, Goleta Beach

After lunch, I decided to make one last stop on the way home.  There have been reports of interesting Warblers (Lucy's, Palm) near some agricultural fields near the Goleta Valley Hospital.  I arrived and began checking out a fenced-in drainage catchment.  There was some water in there that was attracting some birds, but all the ones I could see were sparrows.  

A car arrived, and out stepped the inimitable Wes Fritz, who is a fountain of knowledge of all things Santa Barbara Bird.  I asked him where he was hiding the Warblers.  He suggested we check the nearby fennel patch, which we did without success.

We returned to the catchment and were chatting away.  A group of birds flew in and landed, including a small gray warbler with a rusty rump - hello Lucy's Warbler!  It stayed around for a bit, and a couple minutes later came back for a return visit.  I had seen this species previously in Arizona (where they are expected), but never before in Santa Barbara County.  This made a very satisfying ending to the day!

With the addition of today's 7 species, the year's total stands at 157. 

Today I rode 33.6 miles

More later,


  1. Congrats on that Lucy's. It still amazes me the variety of birds Santa Barbara County gets. LA gets them too, and they just fly over Ventura County. Some day I'll retire in SB county and I'll have to start my county list over again. The Lucy's would be great to have one it as they don't come around often. Great job.

  2. John - Seems to me there are often rarities down in Ventura I am longing for, such as the Red-necked Grebe and Ancient Murrelet now in the harbor. Grass is always greener?