“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 7, 2015

Day 7 - Carpinteria Birding, and a milestone?

Today I set out for Carpinteria, the eastern edge of Santa Barbara County coastline.  My primary goal was to see 2 returning rarities, the Gray Hawk and the Prairie Warbler.  There were also plenty of other species in the area that would be nice to add to the year's list.  The forecast was for warmth, and the day did not disappoint in that way.  By the time I arrived at the "Gray Hawk Stakeout" it was plenty warm.

Perhaps too warm, for after an hour of searching I could find neither the Gray Hawk nor the Prairie Warbler.  I was hot and frustrated, so I did what any sane person would do - I pedaled to the Cajun Kitchen and had lunch.

Along the way I peeked through the fence at the "pond" (as in "See-ment" pond) next to Kim's Market.  This has to rank right up there with least scenic birding spots in Santa Barbara County, now even less attractive as it is presently adjacent to an active construction site.  Nonetheless, there were Green-winged Teal and Ring-necked Ducks present, and the year's list grew by two species.

The "pond" next to Kim's Market, Carpinteria

After lunch, I stopped by the nearby Carpinteria Salt Marsh.  The tide was a little low, but there were still a few birds present I had yet to see this year.  The best of these were 2 pairs of Blue-winged Teal.  While not exactly rare, they are not exactly all over the place either, so it was nice to have them "in the bag" so to speak.  I also added Marsh Wren, Least and Spotted Sandpipers.

Blue-winged Teal, Carpinteria Salt Marsh

Pied-billed Grebe, Carpinteria Salt Marsh

I then proceeded back to the "Gray Hawk Stakeout" and made a circuit looking for said hawk.  No luck.  I returned to the area frequented by the Prairie Warbler.  I searched for another half an hour.  One thing about this spot - although it is next to the beach, it is also next to the freeway and train tracks, with a busy frontage road and lots of semi-truck traffic to boot.  So loud I could not hear myself think, much less the little "chip" of a Warbler.  I am wondering why the hell a bird would choose to live here anyway?  Oh yeah, then there was also the guy trimming some branches in the middle of the patch typically frequented by the warbler - that helped, I am sure.

Frustration level rising, and trying to get a little distance from all the noise, I stepped across the train tracks and began searching the thin row of trees between the tracks and the beach.  Bingo!  Beautiful bright yellow warbler, black striping on the sides, and a brownish mask.  This bird seemed to me brighter than the Prairie Warbler I saw here last winter.  Alas, it was quite shy and I was unable to get a photo.

Spirits rising, I cruised around for another half hour searching for the Gray Hawk, but no luck with that - 1 for 2 on the rarities today.  I will no doubt be back to visit with the Gray Hawk.  In addition to the Warbler, I added Lincoln's Sparrow and American Kestrel.

On the way home, I was passing the beach near the Mission Creek outflow when suddenly all the Gulls and Waterfowl took flight.  When you see this it is always wise to look up, for the birds are often reacting to an overhead predator.  That was the case, as a Peregrine Falcon made a loop for two overhead.  Add that to the list!

Last stop of the day, the breakwater at the Santa Barbara Harbor.  It looked like a nice sunset was developing, so why not?  In addition to a flyby Caspian Tern, there was a most cooperative Osprey perched at the end of the breakwater.  Two more species, for a total of twelve today!  What started as a slow day turned out pretty well, with a fantastic sunset to finish things off.  I imagine there will be few more days this year adding this many species to the list.

Osprey, Santa Barbara Harbor

Goodbye Sun

With the addition of today's 12 species, the year's total stands at 138.  This may be a milestone!  In April 2012 local birders Jared Dawson and Wim Van Dam undertook big day walking and biking, ending up with 126 species.  I have just surpassed that mark (only took 6 days!).  At this time I know of no other larger Green Birding tallies for Santa Barbara County.  If anyone has other Green Birding tallies to share, please let me know!

Today I rode 37.2 miles

More later,

1 comment:

  1. Yeah man that sunset was nice. I could see it developing from my office in T.O. and couldn't do anything about it. At least you and a few people got it. I've never seen the Gray Hawk either after 10+ tries.