“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, March 4, 2015

Day 63 - Lake Los Carneros

Today was Bird Class at Lake Los Carneros.  Recently I have heard talk of a hybrid sapsucker here, and there was recently an ebird report of a Red-naped Sapsucker as well (This report contained no description, which tends to make me a bit skeptical).   I was hoping to see a sapsucker or two today.

When I left the house this morning it was rather cold, and I was freezing by the time I got to Goleta.  I had time, and stopped to get a cup of coffee but the line was long so I continued on to the lake.  This gave me a few minutes to look around before class.

When I arrived, one of the first things I saw flying over the lake was a pair of Violet-green Swallows, a new addition to the year's list.  A good start!  The key field mark here for me to distinguish from a Tree Swallow is the white that extends up on the sides of the rump.  If the light is good the violet and green colors are easy to see, and also the Violet-greens have white coming up the side of the face but this can sometimes be hard to see.  Later during class we saw at least a dozen Tree Swallows, some going into nest boxes around the lake.  Also a Northern Rough-winged Swallow

On the way to the class gathering point I stopped by the area where the sapsuckers are typically seen, but I could not find any.  We also did not see any in class when we passed through the area.

Class started off on a good note with a female type Baltimore Oriole seen within the first few minutes.  At first the conclusion was Bullock's Oriole, but upon review of the photo the judges have decided Baltimore. I did not think I got any photos, but was surprised to find one in the camera when I got home.  A lousy photo, but ....

Baltimore Oriole (Female)

Through the course of the 2 hour class we saw 48 species, which I thought was a pretty good total, though nothing new for the year's list.  For me the nicest thing was to see a pair of White-tailed Kites looking cozy together.  The past couple years have been very tough for the Kites due to the drought. In addition to this, the Monterey Pine trees they have been nesting in recently have pretty much all died.  Hopefully this year they can successfully nest.

White-tailed Kites

Anna's Hummingbird (male)

After class I headed back to the sapsucker area.  Pretty quickly I saw a sapsucker in a nearby Pepper Tree.  This bird found looked like a Red-breasted to me, though may seem to have some red-naped characteristics, namely a relatively short projection of the red onto the breast and the darker band on the lower edge of this red.  I have posted photos and asked for feedback on this.  Update:  Consensus seems to be this is a hybrid Red-breasted x Red-naped Sapsucker.

Red-breasted x Red-naped Sapsucker

Red-breasted x Red-naped Sapsucker

I was following this sapsucker around trying to study the markings.  It had moved to a large Oak tree when it was joined by another sapsucker.  This second bird had the classic look of a male red-naped sapsucker.  Red nape, red forehead, extensive red on the chin, black bib, and white on the back more organized into two stripes.  Sapsucker score!  This is a very nice bird to get, as they are only around in the winter and can be hard to find.  The two birds briefly interacted, the Red-breasted seemed to be chasing off the red-naped.  I was unable to get photos of the red-naped, and waited around for it to return but did not see it again.

Also, ho hum (this is 2015), there was a Varied Thrush on the ground in this area.

By this time I had spent about 90 minutes chasing the sapsuckers around, so it was time to head for home.

After the addition of today's 2 species, the year's total stands at 184. 

Today I rode a total of 22.1 miles

More later,

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