“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

Friday, March 13, 2015

Day 72 - Cliff Swallow

I set out this morning on a tour of Goleta hoping to catch up with some migrating birds - either those who are passing through on the way to their breeding grounds, or those that are arriving here for the summer.  The target birds included: Rufous Hummingbird, Western Tanager, Elegant Tern, Cliff Swallow, and Barn Swallow.

I was really hoping to see a Rufous Hummingbird so I spent a good deal of the morning scouting around flowering trees.  The migrant Rufous Hummingbirds are very similar to the Allen's Hummingbirds, which have become more resident in our area over the past years.  Only the males can be readily separated from each other in the field.  To do this with certainty you need a good look at the tail feathers.  However a general rule of thumb is that a male that is certainly a Rufous will be entirely rufous colored on the head and back - no green allowed; the Allen's (and some Rufous ones) will have some green.  These two species make a distinct buzzing sound when they fly, so I would listen for this sound, locate the bird, and try to see if it had any green.  I examined quite a few hummingbirds this morning and I am sorry to say I was not able to find any that were completely free of green.

One interesting note from this morning - after all the excitement about the Hooded Oriole yesterday, I found no fewer than 5 Hooded Orioles around Goleta today.  I also saw numerous Northern Rough-winged Swallows.  The migrants are starting to arrive.

I also saw lots of nesting activity: a Crow and a Red-tailed Hawk sitting on their nests, and Cassin's Kingbirds, Juncos, Allen's Hummingbirds and Scaly-breasted Munias collecting nesting material.

Well, I struck out on the Rufous Hummingbird, Western Tanager, Elegant Tern and Barn Swallow.  During the last stop of the day I did see a lone Cliff Swallow cruising over the slough at Goleta Beach.  The Cliff Swallow is easily identified by its chestnut colored cheek and white forehead.  In a few weeks there will be large flocks of them building their nests under bridges and under eaves of buildings.

Slowly but surely the year's total creeps towards 200 species.

Some photos from today:

American Wigeon (Female)


Northern Shoveler (Male)

Snowy Egret

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Red-tailed Hawk

After the addition of today's 1 species, the year's total stands at 188. 

Today I rode a total of 30.3 miles

More later,

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