“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

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Day 28 - Back In The Saddle

After being away it was really nice to get on my bike this morning and go looking for birds.  It would be especially nice as I would be joining Birding Class.  This class is offered by SBCC Center for Lifelong Learning, and I have been attending for at least 3 years now.  Our instructor Joan Lentz has a great collection of local bird knowledge and is very enthusiastic in her efforts to help us all become better birders.  That many of the students are returning over and over is a great testament to her skills.  It was nice to see lots of familiar faces.

Today we would be looking for birds in the area just west UCSB and Isla Vista - West Campus Bluffs, Coal Oil Point, and Devereux Lagoon.  There have been a number of recent sightings in this area that would be nice to add to the year's list.  I was hoping to see Dunlin and Western Sandpiper, which are pretty common this time of year.  Also possible would be Ruddy Turnstone and Eurasian Wigeon.  These two were more of a long shot, but hey anything is possible!

Western Meadowlark, UCSB West Campus Bluffs

As we began examining the shore from the bluffs, a single Western Meadowlark perched nearby offering us some fine views.  We made our way along the shore towards Coal Oil Point.  A number of shorebirds were taking advantage of the receding tide.  Among them we found a single Black Turnstone, but its Ruddy cousin was not to be found by us today.

At Coal Oil Point there were a large number of shorebirds, among them 3 Dunlin pointed out to me by Dennis Ringer (he knew I was looking for them).  Dunlin, check!

After a brief look at the nearby Snowy Plovers we continued to Devereux Lagoon.  There was plenty of water there for a change, and many ducks.  We tried examining all the female Wigeon looking for the single female Eurasian Wigeon recently reported there.  This exercise was not unlike finding the proverbial needle in a haystack, and we left without finding it.  On the way back to the starting point we heard the distinctive call of a Hutton's Vireo, so this species was also added to the year's list.  Although we did not find the rare species we had hoped to it was a very nice morning of birding with a total of 57 species identified.

On the way home I decided to stop by the UCSB lagoon.  Among other things I was hoping to find the Loggerhead Shrike that frequents the area.  As I approached the lagoon I spied a duck with a white side dive under the water.  When it resurfaced I was pleasantly surprised to see it was the Tufted Duck that has been seen here on and off for the last month or so.  I did see this rare bird earlier in the month, but it was nice to get some closer views and see it in action.  It also posed for photos.

Tufted Duck, UCSB Lagoon

After spending some time with "Tuftie" I headed up to the area where the Shrike is known to frequent.  As I approached I was encouraged to see a bird sitting on top of a bush - the classic Shrike position.  Alas, it was "only" a Northern Mockingbird, and I imagined it was mocking me.

I made my way around this area, and passed by a Eucalyptus tree laden with pinkish red blooms.  A songbird landed in it nearby.  I looked up expecting to see a Yellow-rumped Warbler, but was very surprised to see an Oriole.  Greenish yellow, two thin white wing bars, relatively short bill, and a black throat.  A young male Orchard Oriole!  A very good find, and a species I did not expect to get this year.  I watched it working through the tree, hoping it would come out for a photo.  No luck with the photo.  At one point I refound the bird in my binoculars, but it seemed duller in color than it had just moments before.  Just then another, brighter Oriole hopped into the view - not one but two Orchard Orioles!  I watched for a few more minutes, then headed out looking for the Shrike.  No luck finding the Shrike, but I was so pleased having found the Orioles I did not care one bit.

With the addition of today's 3 species, the year's total stands at 160. 

Today I rode 30.7 miles

More later,

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