“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, February 10, 2015

Day 41 - Goleta Hat Trick +1

Today was a fantastic day of Green Birding.  The weather was warm and clear.  After the recent rain the landscape is lush and green - due to a brutal drought it has not been this way for 3 years.  There are many flowers too!  (OK, most are invasive weeds, but the flowers are pretty)  There were birds everywhere.  And, to top it all off, I was pushed home by a nice tailwind.

This morning I decided to head out to Lake Los Carneros in Goleta.  I had not visited here since New Year's Day.  It is so nice to have such a wide variety of birding locations to choose from.  There have been some birds reported here recently that I have been looking for, most notably Sora which you may recall I missed seeing yesterday at the Bird Refuge.

I arrived around 7:30, and the place was hopping with birds.  A mixed flock of Sparrows, Towhees, and a California Thrasher escorted me to the lake proper.  I scanned the reeds around the edge of the lake, and within 30 seconds had a Sora in my binoculars. (Hey now that's a good start!) Unlike most sightings I have had of these birds, this one lounged around in the open giving me clear but distant views.  Too distant for photos.  I tried going around to another spot on the shore for a closer look but was unsuccessful.

I made my way to the North side of the lake, where yesterday Rebecca Coulter (Canyon Wren hero, see Day 30) had reported hearing a Summer Tanager.  This would be a "Bonus Bird" - one I had not thought I had a chance to see this year.  I listened around the area for the distinctive call of the Tanager, but did not hear it among the dozens of Yellow-rumped Warblers and other birds.

I continued around the lake, spotting a small raptor in a distant tree.  Hoping it was a Sharp-shinned Hawk, I got close enough to determine it was in fact a Merlin, a small falcon.  Nice, handsome, and all that, but not the bird I was hoping for.

As I continued on I encountered a birding class being led by Rebecca Coulter - small world, or what?  I reported that I had not heard the Tanager, she reported that their group had heard one in an area of the park I had not yet visited.

I continued in that direction, stopping to observe a Red-breasted Sapsucker in a small Pepper Tree.  This is another new species for the year.  The bird was not particularly cooperative with the camera but I did get one decent shot.

 Red-breasted Sapsucker

I went to the area where the Tanager had been heard.  I stopped and listened, but no Tanager.  Just then I got a text from Rebecca, the Tanager was now being seen by the class in the area I had originally been looking.  I headed back to that area, made a couple of circuits listening and looking before I spotted a likely suspect high in a Eucalyptus tree.  Sure enough, Summer Tanager, female - Bonus Bird!  I managed a couple ID photos which turned out pretty well given the horrendous lighting.

 Summer Tanager (female) - Bonus Bird!

As things were going so well I decided to try my luck chasing one more bird.  Last weekend local birder Dave Compton had reported a Tropical Kingbird in the "Area K" portion of the Goleta Slough  (You may recall I was there recently to find a Cinnamon Teal).  Interestingly enough, on my way from Lake Los Carneros to Area K I saw no less than 9 male Cinnamon Teal in a small wetland.  I arrived at the Area K overlook, and immediately saw a Kingbird - but it was a Cassin's Kingbird, the common type of Kingbird that winters here.  I kept looking, and heard the distinctive call of the Tropical Kingbird - it is more liquid and trilly than the call of the Cassin's Kingbird.  Shortly after hearing this I spotted the Tropical Kingbird, it was sallying out to catch insects and returning to the same perch.  It was far away but I managed a decent photo which clearly shows field marks distinguishing it from the Cassin's Kingbird - Yellow Breast up to the neck, longer bill, and forked tail.

Tropical Kingbird

A highly successful day - many thanks to those who report the birds that they find!

After the addition of today's 4 species, the year's total stands at 171. 

Today I rode 28.6 miles

More later,

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