There are a several very high quality birds in the area right now, a number of which I have never seen before. The one generating the most excitement is a Dusky-capped Flycatcher, which was last seen in Santa Barbara about 10 years ago. I have seen them in Arizona, but never Santa Barbara.
Some birds, such as Red Phalarope, Ancient Murrelet, and Rhinoceros Auklet can be seen from sea shore - but a scope would be helpful. I still need to figure out how to haul my scope around on the bike. (Hello, I could have figured this out before this project started, no?)
A couple of the interesting birds are within easy riding distance of the house, so today I set out to see them: Black Scoter, and Painted Redstart. Before this happened I heard a Great Horned Owl calling from our neighbors tree, another bird to add to the year's list and a nice way to start the day!
You may recall a couple days ago I was at the Santa Barbara harbor scanning through the Surf Scoters. Later that day there was a report of two Black Scoters within the Surf Scoter flock. This is a bird I have never seen before, and is not recorded in Santa Barbara every year. This report was especially frustrating to me, because it is highly likely these birds were there when I was looking at them, but I did not identify them. Note to self - pay attention, examine the common birds carefully, and be open to the unexpected.
I cycled to the harbor, proceeded out on Stearns Wharf, and began examining the Scoters floating in the harbor. After a few minutes I found the Black Scoters, identified by the pale lower sides of the head and contrasting dark cap. Eventually one came close enough for a decent photo. Nice to see my second life bird in one week! During this search I managed to add two other species to the list, Glaucous-winged Gull and Pelagic Cormorant.
Black Scoter, Santa Barbara Harbor
After success with the Black Scoter, I rode up to Rocky Nook Park, which is located near the Santa Barbara Mission. Two days ago a Painted Redstart was located here. This colorful member of the warbler family is more typically found in Southern Arizona, and can not be expected to be found in Santa Barbara every year. I was lucky enough to find one last fall, which was the first reported sighting in Santa Barbara County in several years.
I arrived at the park and began searching in the area where the bird was reporting. Within a few minutes I heard it calling, and then saw it flitting about in the treetops. A difficult bird to photograph, I managed one rather poor photo, but proof nonetheless! A fine morning, adding two species to the year list that I would have not expected to see.
Perhaps the world's worst photo of a Painted Redstart
Today I rode 10.2 miles.