After a few days away it felt good to get back on the bike and go looking for birds.
In these parts some of the first birds to return in the spring are swallows. Typically there are 5 types of swallows that can be easily found near Santa Barbara: Cliff, Tree, Barn, Violet-green and Northern Rough-winged. Spring must be on the way as over the past week or so there have been reports of Tree, Violet-green and Northern Rough-winged Swallows. I thought it would make a nice search to see if I could find all three varieties today.
My first stop on this gray morning was Lake Los Carneros in Goleta, where I was primarily looking for Tree Swallows, and perhaps Violet-green Swallows. After an hour walking around the lake I had seen many birds but still no swallows. Then I heard quite a racket above my head and looked up to see a pair of Tree Swallows. One down!
Just a couple of minutes later I saw a small hawk of the accipiter family flying over the lake. I was hoping it was a Sharp-shinned Hawk, which I needed for the year's list (I had missed one here last week). In the field it can be difficult to tell Cooper's Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks from each other. Luckily today the smallish bird flying by had a small head which barely projected past the front of the wings - a good mark for Sharp-shinned hawk. Add that one to the list! As these birds only spend the winter around here I was beginning to wonder if I would see one of these before they all leave for the summer.
After leaving Lake Los Carneros I made a pass by Devereux Lagoon hoping that perhaps the American Avocet reported a fews days ago was still there, but no luck with that.
The final stop of the day was at Goleta Beach, where a Northern Rough-winged Swallow has been hanging around. After watching a Caspian Tern for a few minutes, I saw this swallow flying over the water hunting for insects. 2nd swallow down!
I rode up the bike path a ways looking for more swallows, but could not find any. So I end the day 2 for 3 on the swallows. In season swallows are easy to come by so I am not worried that I will catch up with all of them eventually.
A few photos from today:
After the addition of today's 3 species, the year's total stands at 174.
Today I rode 31.1 miles