“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

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Day 120 - Nothing To Report

This morning I headed out to the San Marcos Foothills Preserve.  There was a Yellow-breasted Chat there last spring and summer, and I was hoping that perhaps it returned.  A bit of a long shot, and perhaps too early, but worth a try.  (Also I could ride up some hills on the way there)

Well, as you may have guessed there was no Chat to be found.  I did have an enjoyable stroll and liked to see the Wrentits, Orange-crowned Warblers, and California Towhees feeding their young.

After my stroll there I headed out to Goleta Beach, for no particular reason other than I had not been there in awhile.  I did not expect to find anything new there and was not disappointed in this assumption - In fact there were surprisingly few birds around at all.

It has been about 2 weeks since I had an outing without a new bird so I am not terribly disappointed.  Perhaps something interesting will turn up tomorrow!

A few photos from today:

Black-chinned Hummingbird (male)

Western Grebe

Gadwall (male)

Caspian Tern

After today the year's total still stands at 223. 

Today I rode a total of 24.7 miles

More later,

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Day 118 - Two Surprising Finds

After being away for a few days it was good to get back on the bike and go out looking for birds.

My first target today was the Olive-sided Flycatcher that has been reported by Jared Dawson up on E. Mountain Drive.  The good news for my fitness is this involved climbing about 800 feet uphill.  When I arrived in the area it took only a few minutes to hear the distinctive call of the Olive-sided Flycatcher.  Success!  After a couple of minutes I located the bird high in a Eucalyptus tree and managed a fairly lousy ID photo.

Since finding the flycatcher only took a short time I decided to head out to Goleta where a MacGillivray's Warbler had been seen over the weekend.  I arrived at the Berkeley Bike Bridge and searched for about 30 minutes.  I did not find the target warbler, but enjoyed watching a young Oak Titmouse, a couple of young Orange-crowned Warblers, and a pair of Pacific-slope Flycatchers.  The Flycatchers were very cooperative for the camera.

With still more time before I needed to head home I continued on towards Coal Oil Point, where Short-billed Dowitchers had been reported yesterday.

Along the way I stopped at Devereux Slough to see if there was anything interesting around.  I stopped at the "first pullout" viewing spot and immediately saw 6 White-faced Ibis standing near the far shore.  Another new bird for the year!  (This was very close to where the Sandhill Crane was standing last week. I am beginning to like this spot!)  There were also a good number of Caspian Terns and Bonaparte's Gulls nearby.  As I had not seen any reports of Ibis in the area yet this year I sent out a quick email to the local bird list reporting the Ibis, Terns, and Gulls.

I quickly got an email back from Wim Van Dam who suggested I look more closely at the gulls - one of those Bonaparte's may actually be a Franklin's Gull and this would be a very good find.  This sounded like a good idea so I went around where I could view the gulls from the closest distance.  Unfortunately they were still too far away to get a good enough look without a scope.  The good news was that I noticed 3 waders near the Ibis, working the shallow water with jerky motions.  Upon closer examination I saw they were Wilson's Phalarope - 3rd new bird for the day!  I managed some lousy photos - very long distance and lots of heat shimmer were working against me.

All in all a great outing with two surprising finds.  It is nice to have the Ibis and Phalarope on the list, as these were two species I did not have a specific plan for.

Black Skimmer (note band on left leg)

Cliff Swallows gathering mud to make nests

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

White-faced Ibis (top) and Wilson's Phalarope (bottom)

Wilson's Phalarope (Trust me)

After the addition of today's 3 species, the year's total stands at 223.

Today I rode a total of 41.0 miles

More later,

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Day 115 - What's left to see?

Awhile back I put together a (somewhat arbitrary) list of target birds for the year.  They are organized by region (C = Coastal, M = Mountain, I = Interior, V=Cuyama Valley) and my guess at probability of finding them.  Likely = 9/10, Possible = 5/10, Unlikely = 1/10.

Below are the birds on the list that I have not yet found.  For many of them (the ones that regularly occur in a particular place or time) I have identified likely areas to look.  

There are a few I have no plan for.  For example, I am not sure the best place to look for Least Tern.

If you have a "go-to" place for any of these species, feel free to let me know the details.

Western Barn Owl Likely C
Canvasback Likely C
Northern Harrier Likely C
Chipping Sparrow Likely C
Short-billed Dowitcher Likely C
Common Tern Likely C
Western Wood Pewee Likely C
Olive-sided Flycatcher Likely C
Purple Martin Likely C
Yellow-breasted Chat Likely C
Swainson's Thrush Likely C
Wilson's Phalarope Likely C
Solitary Sandpiper Likely C
Pectoral Sandpiper Likely C
Red-necked Phalarope Likely C
White-faced Ibis Likely C
Palm Warbler Likely C
Western Cattle Egret Possible C
American White Pelican Possible C
Grace's Warbler Possible C
Sage Thrasher Possible C
Lawrence’s Goldfinch Possible C
Least Tern Possible C
Semipalmated Sandpiper Possible C
Indigo Bunting Possible C
Willow Flycatcher Possible C
Brewer's Sparrow Possible C
Baird's Sandpiper Possible C
Tennessee Warbler Possible C
Chestnut-sided Warbler Possible C
Blackpoll Warbler Possible C
Virginia's Warbler Possible C
Snow Goose Possible C
Reddish Egret Unilkely C
Common Moorhen Unlikely C
Pacific Wren Unlikely C
Short-eared Owl Unlikely C
American Black Swift Unlikely C
White-winged Dove Unlikely C
Rose-breasted Grosbeak Unlikely C
Yellow-billed Magpie Likely I
Horned Lark Likely I
Vesper Sparrow Likely I
Golden Eagle Possible I
Northern Pygmy Owl Possible I
Lewis's Woodpecker Possible I
Common Merganser Possible I
Bald Eagle Possible I
Hammond's Flycatcher Possible I
Common Goldeneye Possible I
Mountain Chickadee Likely M
Pygmy Nuthatch Likely M
Red-breasted Nuthatch Likely M
Townsend's Solitaire Possible M
White-headed Woodpecker Unlikely M
Golden-crowned Kinglet Unlikely M
Tricoloured Blackbird Likely V
Ferruginous Hawk Likely V
Prairie Falcon Likely V
Mountain Bluebird Likely V

More later,

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Day 113 - Back Soon

I am off to Louisiana for a few days.  Though there may be a bit of migrant warbler chasing going on, I'll be mostly watching feathers of a different sort:

Mardi Gras Indian

More soon,

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Day 112 - Wandering Tattler and more!

This morning I was sitting at home minding my own business (actually I was watching the Pine Siskins at the feeder and wondering why they are still here) when I got a call from Wim Van Dam - "there are 3 Wandering Tattlers at Campus Point."  He knew I had been chasing them and was probably getting tired of reading about how I was not finding any.

Well it did not take any more than that to get me out of the house.  47 minutes after hanging up the phone I was standing on the bluff above Campus Point looking at 3 Wandering Tattlers!  (Thanks Wim!!!)  They were sharing a large rock with 7 Surfbirds and at least 10 Black Turnstones.  As the tide was rising I was happy to get there before the water came up over the rocks and they disappeared.  The midday light was harsh but I managed a decent ID photo.

On the way home I was chugging along Modoc Road, happy not to be in a hurry for a change.  I was passing under some Eucalyptus trees when I heard what sounded suspiciously like Tanagers singing.  I pulled over and got out the binocs.  There were a number of birds high in the trees, including a pair of Western Tanagers.  Another new bird for the year!  There was also a beautiful and singing male Bullock's Oriole.  Unfortunately they were all far up in the trees with crummy lighting so no photos.

Although it is no doubt good for my fitness level, this bit about racing off to Goleta on the bike has my legs quite tired.  I am looking forward to a few days off.

Wandering Tattler

Eared Grebe - Breeding Plumage

After the addition of today's 2 species, the year's total stands at 220.

Today I rode a total of 20.0 miles

More later,

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Day 111 Part 2 - Wait, there's more!

After I arrived home from the Great Crane Chase, I got an email alert that reported a Blue Grosbeak being seen on More Mesa. (Ironically, just about the time as I was riding past this spot on the way home)  This would be a great bird to add to the year's list, as they are rather sporadic along the South Coast.  There is a reliable spot for Blue Grosbeak in Santa Barbara County but it is a 60 mile bike ride from my house.

So, all in all, it would be great to get this bird taken care of now and close to home.  I had received advice earlier in the year that More Mesa would be a good spot to find this bird, which was surprising to me.  After actually dealing with of some of the things I neglected earlier in the day, I set out for More Mesa (3rd outing for the day, I believe a Green Big Year first).  

I arrived and made my way across the open space towards the area where the bird was reported.  There was a good bit of bird activity, lots of House Finches, Swallows, and Kingbirds.  I kept my eye out for a blue bird with brown wings sitting on top of a bush.  

I spied a dark bird sitting in the midst of a dead Fennel plant, got the binocs on it, and Bingo - Blue Grosbeak!  It was not particularly cooperative with the camera but I did get shots to prove the the bird exists.

A nice and rewarding finish to an exciting day!

Blue Grosbeak

After the addition of this afternoon's 1 species, the year's total stands at 218.

This afternoon I rode another 15.8 miles for a total of 48.4 miles today.  I am tired.

More later,

Day 111 - Great Bonus Bird!!!

This morning I had a brief window for an outing.  It was low tide so I headed down to the Santa Barbara Harbor Jetty, hoping to find a Wandering Tattler.  Once again I did not find any Tattlers (I did see one last weekend in Monterey, so I do know they are out there!), but there were a few other waders around.  They are starting to really show their breeding plumages.  There is only a short window in each year where we see Spotted Sandpipers that actually have spots!  I must say the Surfbirds are looking quite handsome as well.

Spotted Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper


Upon my return home I received a text from Liz Maruoka that there was a sighting of a Sandhill Crane at Devereux Slough.  In my limited experience we get less than one of these per year in the Santa Barbara area, so this was exciting news!  Whatever it was I was supposed to be doing was quickly forgotten.

The chase was on!  I got on the bike and covered the 13 miles to the viewing point in less than 43 minutes.  When I arrived I ran into Liz, who was leaving.  She had just texted me the exact location of the bird, and sure enough there it was!  I had never seen one in Santa Barbara County before, so this was a great find.  Many thanks to all those who found, reported, and got the word out so quickly.

As I watched over the next 45 minutes several friends, old and new, also arrived to see the Crane.  This included Jared Dawson, who just happened to be in the middle of a green big day.  He was hoping to break his old record of 123 species.  At this point he was not optimistic about that, but was quite pleased to be looking at a Sandhill Crane as part of his day's walk.  At this point the crane began gently calling, which sounded not unlike a giant pigeon cooing.  It was really cool to hear this!

Some distant photos of today's star:

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

After the addition of today's 1 species, the year's total stands at 217

Today I rode a total of 32.6 miles

More later,

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Day 105-106: Big Overnight Jaunt and a Bonus Bird!

It was time to hit the road.  I needed to get away from the South Coast, as there are more birds lurking in the mountains that I am unlikely to see closer to home.  So I hatched a plan to ride to Upper Oso Campground in the Santa Ynez River Valley, spend the night, and return the next day.  Although only about 25 miles each way, this ride would involve going over San Marcos Pass (2200 feet) hauling gear.  Coming back would not be as bad as I would be starting from about 750 foot elevation instead of sea level.

Elevation Plot of Ride to Upper Oso Campground

The ride up San Marcos Pass went off without incident.  I would not call it enjoyable, but it was not as bad as I thought it may be.  My first stop was at Kinevan Road (elevation 1900 feet) to try and find a Warbling Vireo, and perhaps a Cassin's Vireo.  Before I even got to the area where I typically look for birds here I heard a Warbling Vireo.  It even posed for a decent photo.  Bird #1 for the day!  As I was leaving this area I heard the song of a Cassin's Vireo.  After a couple of minutes I found it too.  Bird #2 for the day!  This was a great start, bird-wise.

I went over the summit and coasted down to the Paradise Store where I paused for a snack.  I then continued along Paradise Road to the Live Oak Campground.  This is my go-to 100% guaranteed place to go to see a Rock Wren.  Except for today.  When I arrived and looked around, no sight and no sound of a Rock Wren.  I did quickly find an Ash-throated Flycatcher (I would see many more of these) for bird #3 of the day.

It being midday, hot and bright, I holed up in the shade for a couple of hours to let the heat of the day pass by.  After emerging from this break, I decided to give the Rock Wren one more try.  If I did not find it today I could always check on the way by tomorrow.  Typically I find them down close to the campground, but I thought I heard one far up the slope.  I worked my way up to the bottom of the slope and after a bit of looking found not one but two Rock Wrens.  Bird #4 for the day!

I headed up towards the day's destination of Upper Oso Campground.  There was a detour I could take to the spot where I found Rufous-crowned Sparrows back in December.  I opted against this as it was up a pretty good hill and I'd had enough of those for the day.  The turnoff to Upper Oso was about a mile from this spot.  When I reached the turnoff I heard an interesting sparrow song.  I checked my bird call app and sure enough it was a Rufous-crowned Sparrow!  I followed the bird around the area a bit, and eventually another one joined it.  Bird #5!

On the way to Upper Oso.

I continued on to Upper Oso without further distraction.  The draw for me here was recent reports of Western Screech Owl and Common Poorwill.  These are both nocturnal species that are more often heard than seen.  I have seen a Screech Owl once in a tree outside my house.  The only Poorwill I have seen was, sadly, dead beside the side of the road.  Luckily the calls of these birds are quite distinctive so they are easy to identify by sound alone.

After arriving I took a stroll around the campground.  The most amusing birds were the Bullock's Orioles which were making quite a racket in the Oak Trees.  Unfortunately they stayed near the top of the trees and were not too photo-friendly.

As dusk settled in I heard the call of a Western Screech Owl.  Bird #6!  About 15 minutes later I heard not one but two Common Poorwills calling.  Bird #7!  Throughout the night the Screech Owls could be heard calling from various directions.  At one point there was one in the tree directly over my sleeping bag.  On the other hand I heard the Poorwill only twice - once at dusk and once at dawn.

I awoke early and got rolling for home about 6AM.  It was rather chilly at that hour.  There was only one target bird I had yet to find on this jaunt, and that was the Wild Turkey.  There is typically a flock somewhere in Paradise Road, which runs near the Santa Ynez River.  I took my time on the way back hoping to encounter a Turkey or two.  I had nearly ridden through the zone I had seen them in the past, when I spied 8 Turkeys in the Fremont Campground.  Two of the males were strutting their stuff for the ladies.  Bird #8 for the trip!

I made it back over San Marcos Pass without incident.  I coasted down to Goleta and made my way back to Santa Barbara.  I was enjoying a celebration breakfast at the Cajun Kitchen when I received a text from Peter Gaede: "Wood Duck at Laguna Blanca."  I finished my breakfast and backtracked the 3 miles to the drying lake in the middle of La Cumbre Country Club.

As was the case during my last visit here, the birds were far away from any legal vantage point, and I was not about to walk out on this swanky golf course in my biking gear.  I could see a number of Mallard Ducks and some Cinnamon Teal, but no Wood Duck.  However, there was one duck asleep on a rock that looked different than the other ducks.  I checked with Peter, he confirmed this was likely it.  I waited for about 10 minutes for the bird to raise her head so I could get a positive ID.  Bird #9 for the trip!  A great bonus bird, as Wood Ducks can be hard to come by in these parts.  I was not sure I would catch up with one this year.  Thanks Peter!

A highly successful couple of days.  I will be taking a few days off now.

Some photos from the last couple of days.  The birds were not particularly cooperative.

Warbling Vireo

Rock Wren

Band-tailed Pigeons

Ash-throated Flycatcher

Bullock's Oriole (Male)

Wild Turkey

After the addition of yesterday and today's 9 species, the year's total stands at 216!

Yesterday and today I rode a total of 60.6 miles

More later,

Monday, April 13, 2015

Day 103 - Not A Black-and-White Day

If I go by recent local reports there are very few birds for me to find within a one day's ride from home.  To be precise, 3 species: Ash-throated Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo, and as of yesterday Black-and-White Warbler.

Obviously it is about time to go farther afield where more species await.

As both the Ash-throated Flycatcher and Warbling Vireo are both species that I am certain to come by, I decided to try and find the Black-and-White Warbler.  This is a species I did not expect to find this year so it would be a bonus to see.

I arrived at Lake Los Carneros and went to the area where the Warbler had been seen.  I spent nearly two hours searching this area without any sign of the Warbler.  It was reported as singing but I heard none of that either.  In fact I saw very few birds in this area of the park.

No bird photos from this outing, only a butterfly.

Painted Lady

Here is a photo from our yard today.  This "Spice Finch" was previously known as Nutmeg Mannikin is now referred to as the Scaly-breasted Munia.  These introduced birds have been spreading throughout the Santa Barbara area over the past few years.  They are regulars at our feeders.

Scaly-breasted Munia

After today the year's total still stands at 207. 

Today I rode a total of 23 miles

More later,

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Day 102 - Lazuli Bunting

This morning I headed out to Western Goleta to visit Farren Road.  My target species were Ash-throated Flycatcher and Lazuli Bunting.  Both of these species have recently begun to arrive on their migration from parts south.  Plus, there is a nice hill to get up which helps with the fitness regime.

There was a good level of bird activity all along the road.  The most notable birds were two Common Ravens and some Lark Sparrows, as well as a very large flock of Cedar Waxwings.

I was stopped along the road when several birds flew into a nearby bush.  I got them in the binoculars to see they were three gorgeous Male Lazuli Buntings - blue backs and head, light brown chest with white belly.  I stayed in the area for awhile hoping to get some photos but the Buntings stayed deep in the bushes and would not cooperate.  This is a shame because I do not have any photos of these birds to share with you.  They should be around for awhile so I hope to catch up with some Lazuli Buntings that are more photo-friendly.

Although one was reported in the area just before I arrived, I was unable to locate my other target bird, the Ash-throated Flycatcher.  These should be around for awhile so I am confident I will see one soon.

All in all another gorgeous spring day here in Santa Barbara!

A few photos from today:

California Towhee

Mourning Dove

Red-tailed Hawk

Western Bluebird

Western Kingbird

Turkey Vulture

After the addition of today's 1 species, the year's total stands at 207

Today I rode a total of 36.5 miles

More later,

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Day 100 - Elings Park

This afternoon I had a brief opportunity to head out and look for birds.  I went over to nearby Elings Park, where just this morning a Lazuli Bunting (a new migrant) was reported.

It was rather quiet there bird-wise, which is not so unexpected in the middle of the day.  There were a good variety of swallows and a flyby Cooper's Hawk, but no Buntings Lazuli or otherwise.

I was surprised at how dry the grass there was already - the drought really is making things hard for the natural world around here.

During my brief time there I did not manage any photos.  Not an impressive outing but it has been quite a good week for birds so I am not complaining!

After today the year's total still stands at 206. 

Today I rode a total of 2.9 miles

More later,

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Day 99 - 2 New Birds!

This morning I decided to head uphill in search of birds.  I did not have any particular species in mind, but there are a few migrants that are already here or should be arriving that I could catch up with.

The reason for heading uphill is twofold - First, I need to raise my fitness level so I can survive some of the more challenging rides I would like to tackle in the upcoming months.  My son tells me (and quite correctly) that I should ride more hills.  Second, there tend to be some different birds in the hills  so it would be nice see a few of them.

First stop was Rocky Nook Park.  No new species for me here though there was a good level of bird activity.  The most interesting thing I saw was a young Orange-crowned Warbler begging from its parents.

I continued on up to the Tunnel Trail.  A total climb of 1400+ feet, which I thought went pretty well.  I hung around the trailhead for a bit then headed on up the trail.  The first 3/4 mile of the trail is basically a paved road so I rode with frequent stops to watch for birds.  I did in fact see or hear a few species that are not so common in the flatlands this time of year - Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, a pair of singing Black-headed Grosbeaks, and Canyon Wrens.

The hit of the morning was the solo Vaux's Swift that made a pass overhead.  A small grayish swift with low-contrasting lighter throat and very short tail.  New bird for the year!  Getting photos of a flying swift is beyond my abilities so I have no swift photos to share.

In fact I have no presentable bird photos from this morning, so here are a couple of others for your entertainment:

Nice View From Tunnel Trail

Butterfly - I do not recall seeing this type before.

This afternoon I got myself invited over to Noah's place.  He has been hoarding the Calliope Hummingbirds with several coming to visit his feeders this week.  Well he certainly has the secret figured out, because just a couple minutes after he re-filled his feeder a male Calliope Hummingbird appeared -much to my delight!  It was even polite enough to pose for photos.  Unless something very unusual happens, this will be the last new species of hummingbird I see in Santa Barbara County this year.

Thanks Noah!

Calliope Hummingbird (Male) and Rufous Hummingbird (Male)

After the addition of today's 2 species, the year's total stands at 206

Today I rode a total of 17.4 miles

More later,

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Day 98 - Chasing Hummingbirds

Today was a bit of a rainy day here, unusual due to the drought but welcome.  This put me off from doing a significant bird outing.

However, there have been several recent reports of migrating Calliope Hummingbirds in the area.  The Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest bird in North America.  That combined with the fact it is a hummingbird makes it one of my more favored birds.  It is also the only remaining hummingbird that is typically found in our area that I have yet to see this year.  Thus, I would REALLY like to see one!

Unfortunately in our area they also tend to be hard to come by.  They pass through during migration and generally do not stick around for long.  So I was excited to see reports from last evening and this morning at a location about 2 miles from my house.

When the rain let up this afternoon I got on the bike and headed over to the row of bottlebrush trees where these little birds had been seen.  I arrived to find Peter Gaede already searching the treetops (great minds think alike), which were indeed buzzing with numerous hummingbirds.  These were mostly Rufous and Allen's Hummingbirds, with a few Anna's and one male Black-chinned Hummingbird.

Alas, after searching the treetops for about 45 minutes we were unable to find any Calliope Hummingbirds.  The birds tended to stay high in the trees.  With the sun fairly high in the sky this made for a difficult viewing situation.  Plus the little Calliopes are easily bullied by the larger Hummingbirds and tend to be a bit skittish in a crowded situation such as this.

It is still somewhat early in the migration period so hopefully I will catch up with one soon.

I include a previous photo below to illustrate what these little fellows look like:

Calliope Hummingbird (Male, Utah 2014)

After today the year's total still stands at 204. 

Today I rode a total of 4.1 miles

More later,

Monday, April 6, 2015

Day 97 Part 2 - Country Clubbing

This afternoon I received an email alert from ebird stating there were a couple of waders - American Avocet and Lesser Yellowlegs - that had been seen around noon at the local country club.  I had a little time so I hopped back on the bike and rode 4.5 miles into a stiff wind to check it out.

The La Cumbre Country Club has a "lake" which went completely dry last summer then filled up a bit with the little rain we did get in January.  Frankly I had forgotten about it until getting this report.

I arrived at the lake to see it actually had very little water in it and large areas of mudflats surrounding the water.  Also, tons of golf balls stuck in the mud!  This configuration had actually attracted a pretty good variety of birds.  The only problem was they were quite far away from any legal viewing point.

I quickly located the American Avocet in among some Black-necked Stilts.  It's rusty head (moving into breeding plumage) made it easy to spot.  I did get one photo which I believe shows it is in fact an Avocet.  I also include a previous photo of an Avocet so you can actually see what one looks like.

American Avocet - waaay far away

American Avocet - Arizona 2013

Finding the Lesser Yellowlegs was a little trickier.  There were at least 16 (and probably more) Greater Yellowlegs moving around far out on the mudflats.  Telling the difference between Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs can be tricky.  I include a photo showing the two side by side. When they do this it makes getting the proper ID much easier.  Luckily for me with so many Greater Yellowlegs around I simply needed to find the one that was shorter than the other ones, which I did after a few minutes of searching.  These birds were simply too far away to get any sort of photo.

A great little bonus outing to see two species of birds I was beginning to wonder how I would track down.

Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Florida 2015

After the addition of this afternoon's 2 species, the year's total stands at 204

This afternoon I rode an additional 9.0 miles

More later,

Day 97 - Road Runner - Beep Beep!

This morning I set off for the Carpinteria Bluffs in order to find a Greater Roadrunner.  These birds can be frustratingly difficult to find in our area.  There had been at least a couple of recent reports from this spot, so I thought this would be an excellent chance to try and find this elusive bird.  Plus they are quite odd-looking and fun to watch!  I was ready to spend several hours here if that it what it took to see my Roadrunner.

I arrived at the park and searched for about half an hour, positioning myself where I had long views along the pathways hoping to catch the Roadrunner crossing these open areas - they do really run and rarely fly.  I eventually made my way down to the edge of the bluff near the Harbor Seal Rookery overlook.  I watched the seals for a couple of minutes, then prepared to walk around to a better vantage point.

When I looked up at the path, much to my astonishment, there was a Roadrunner about 10 feet away and walking right towards me!  It did not seem too troubled by my presence.  I followed it down the path taking a few photos, it passed quite close to me in a rather calm fashion about three times.

At one point as I watched it started calling, a descending and slowing series of "coo coo coo"  I had never seen this before so that was quite a treat!

One interesting factoid about the Greater Roadrunner, aside form the fact they are the largest member of the Cuckoo family, is that they have zygodactyl feet, two toes in the front and two in the back which form an X pattern.  This is shown well in one of the photos below.

Another interesting find was a couple of Common Ravens.  These are not usually seen down in the coastal plains around here.  One of the Ravens had quite a bit of white in many of its feathers which gave it an odd spotted look.

Some photos from today:

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner (Note zygodactyl foot)

Roadrunner Footprint

Common Raven

After the addition of today's 1 species, the year's total stands at 202

Today I rode a total of 38.3 miles

More later,

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Day 96 - Santa Barbara Harbor

I had a little time before the Easter festivities this morning so I headed down the the breakwater at the Santa Barbara Harbor.  I was hoping to see a Wandering Tattler (isn't that a great name for a bird?).  It is a bit early for this shorebird migrant but I did not have time for a more distant jaunt so I thought I'd give this a try.

Things were pretty quiet bird-wise on this calm clear morning.  I saw no Tattlers -Wandering or otherwise.  The best find of the morning was 5 Surfbirds on the rocks to the seaward side of the breakwater.  Their position allowed for some close viewing and good photos.

Though I found no new birds for the year's list it was a pleasant little outing.

Some photos from this morning:


Red-breasted Merganser

Red-breasted Merganser

Horned Grebe

Red-throated Loon

Black-crowned Night Heron

After today the year's total still stands at 201. 

Today I rode a total of 7.0 miles

More later,