“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

Monday, March 23, 2015

Day 82 - Chasing Ghosts

During the course of this year I have spent a good deal of time following local ebird reports.  For those unfamiliar with this, ebird is a project out of Cornell University that allows users to submit bird sightings to a global database.  This database can then be searched, mapped, and examined 12 ways form Sunday.  I can also get it to send me an email whenever anyone reports a bird in Santa Barbara County that I have not yet seen this year.

This is all fantastic, believe me. Ebird is easily the biggest advance in birding technology in a long time.  However, if there is one thing I have learned this year - do not believe everything you read on ebird.  Since I have been paying close attention, I have been quite surprised at the number of reports I see that are suspect - generally mis-identification of species.

For example, a couple of days ago there was an ebird report of 1 Red-breasted Merganser and 2 Common Mergansers in the Santa Barbara Harbor.  This seemed rather sketchy to me - Red-breasted Mergansers are fairly common along the coast here, and despite their name the Common Mergansers are definitely not common along the coast.  They are pretty easy to come by away from the coast in the the Santa Ynez River and associated reservoirs.  The males of these species are easily distinguished, but the females look more similar and can be confused.  Of course birds do not read the rules so anything is possible.

Well, since the harbor is pretty close to home I could not resist heading down there this afternoon to check it out.  To make a long story short, I found 1 male Red-breasted Merganser and 2 female Red-breasted Mergansers.  No Common Mergansers.

I did see a spiffy-looking Surfbird getting its breeding plumage, and it was another beautiful Santa Barbara day so I have no complaints whatsoever.

Some photos from today:

Common Loon

Marbled Godwit

Red-throated Loon


After today the year's total still stands at 194. 

Today I rode a total of 10.1 miles

More later,

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