“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, March 24, 2015

Day 83 - 1,000 Mile Mark and 3 New Birds!

First, the big news.  With the addition of today's 32.4 miles I have crossed the 1,000 mile mark for the Santa Barbara Big Green Year!  1,000 down and who knows how many to go.

Well, after yesterday's little rant about ebird, today I followed up on a reliable ebird report with 4 potential additions to the year's list.  The report was from Farren Road in western Goleta.  Frankly I had forgotten about Farren Road, but I am glad to have been reminded.  The four target species for today were Greater Roadrunner, Western Kingbird, Common Raven, and Phainopepla.

Shortly after climbing the first hill on Farren Road I saw a Kingbird on the power lines.  It turned out to be a Western Kingbird - paler gray head than a Cassin's Kingbird, no high contrast white cheek patch, white edges to outer tail feathers, and a different vocabulary.  As I was getting my camera out it flew to a distant barbed wire fence where it stayed safely out of camera range for the remainder of my visit.  I am certain I will be seeing more of these in the future.  One bird down!

Next up was a black bird soaring above me.  Too small for a hawk or vulture.  Crow or Raven?  They can be somewhat difficult to tell apart.  Ravens are larger, but size can be difficult to gauge in the field - rarely do Crows and Ravens sit next to each other for that definitive comparison.  In my experience Ravens soar but Crows do not.  Last but not least, the shape of the tail can be diagnostic.  When in flight Crows have a fan-shaped tail, and Ravens have a diamond-shaped tail.  This bird definitely had diamond-shaped tail - Raven.  Two birds down!

After searching around awhile farther up the road I thought I heard the distinctive call of the Phainopepla.  I have seen their call described as a rising "wurp" - as if it is asking you a question.  I looked in the direction of the call and saw a male Phainopepla (black) sitting on top of a distant pepper tree.  I took a couple of photos which look sort of like the Loch Ness Monster from this distance.  Later I saw a female Phainopepla (gray) in the same tree.  Three birds down!

I searched for a Roadrunner without success.  I think this bird will be a hard one to find this year.  Even with a couple hundred people looking one did not turn up on the day of the Christmas Bird Count.  I feel a bit like Wile E Coyote searching for the elusive Roadrunner ....  Beep Beep!

A couple photos from today:

Savannah Sparrow

Trust me, the black blob is a Phainopepla

After the addition of today's 3 species, the year's total stands at 197. 

Today I rode a total of 32.4 miles

More later,

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