“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, August 11, 2015

Day 223 - Summer Break Is Over - Back In The Saddle!

OK, summer vacation is over and I am back on the chase.  It was a great few weeks away from home, but I did miss out on some great birds here in Santa Barbara County.  More on that another day.

Based on recent reports, today I had 2 target birds in mind: Red-necked Phalarope and Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

First stop was the Mission Creek Outflow, where I saw nothing unusual.

Next stop was the Andree Clark Bird Refuge.  The first thing I noticed here was a group of Black Skimmers doing their thing - hunting for food by skimming the surface of the water with their unusual bill - the bottom portion is considerably longer than the top.  No matter how many times I see this, I still think it's perhaps the most fascinating way of birds feeding.  There was not much light but I did manage a few OK photos of the Skimmers.

Black Skimmer, skimming.

Black Skimmer, skimming.

Black Skimmers

After pulling my eyes away from the Skimmers, I started searching around and saw a group of 6 small birds feeding in circles far out in the middle of the water - Red-necked Phalaropes!  One species added to the year's list.  Unfortunately the small birds were too far away for photos.  I include a photo of a Red-necked Phalarope I took at the Bird Refuge back in 2012.

Red-necked Phalarope, September 2012

I continued on to the Carpinteria Salt Marsh, where the Yellow-crowned Night Herons (3 of them!) had been reported over the last week or so.  I believe the first time this species was reported in Santa Barbara County was in 2009.  Last fall there was a juvenile found at Refugio State Beach which created a good bit of excitement.  This year there have been at least 2 reports of single birds, followed by the 3 individuals at the Salt Marsh.  This is a species I did not expect to find this year.

I arrived at the Salt Marsh and within a couple of minutes had one in my binoculars at the very spot they had been previously seen.  I passed a woman heading the other way, and asked her if she had seen the bird.  Her reply - "Oh, there are 3 of them over there."  I went around the corner and indeed there were!  The three individuals were busy hunting crabs for breakfast, and were very cooperative for the camera.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (juvenile)

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (juvenile)

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (juvenile)

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (juvenile)

I met a nice couple who were looking at the Night-Herons, and when I caught up to them again they pointed out the resident Red Fox that was hunting for its own breakfast.  It was far away, but I think you'll agree the photo does show a Red Fox.

Red Fox.

Today was a great start to the remainder of the year!

After the addition of these 2 species, the year's total stands at 233.

Today I rode a total of 32.3 miles

More later,

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