“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

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Day 234 - Least Terns!

It has been bugging me that I keep missing out on Least Terns - especially since they seem to be relatively abundant this year.  After reading a report by Hugh Ranson of 8 Least Terns at Coal Oil Point yesterday (Eight, for god's sake!) I decided to get out there again this morning and see If I could once and for all catch up with these little devils!

I arrived about 7:30 as the fog was lifting.  The beach was quiet human-wise, but active bird-wise with many Snowy Plovers working among the kelp piles all along the beach.  Down over the mouth of Devereux Slough I could see some small white birds flying - this was a very encouraging sign.  I made my way down the beach scanning among the various Plovers and Sandpipers for the Terns.  Sure enough as I approached the mouth of the slough I could see 4 Least Terns, an adult and 3 immature birds.  Finally!  I think I have put in more miles chasing this species than any other this year.  Also a first for me to see these birds in Santa Barbara County.

I watched them for awhile then headed back to my bike.  As I was climbing back up the bluff the Least Terns were flying nearby over the water.  I thanked them profusely and headed on my way.

Least Tern - Adult

Least Tern - Immature

Least Terns - Immature (Left) and Adult (Right)

On the way home I stopped by Goleta Beach to see if I could scare up something interesting - perhaps a Common Tern or unusual Sandpiper.  The most unusual bird I could scare up was this mutant duck, perhaps a cross between a Mallard and some domestic breed.  Maybe just a domestic duck.

 Duck - I suspect Mallard x Domestic

There was a flock of Terns on the beach.  Mostly Elegant Terns with a couple of Royal Terns.  No Common Terns around.  It seems anything named "Common" tends to be rather uncommon in these parts.

Elegant Tern

Elegant Terns - Adult (Top) and Immature (Bottom)

Elegant Tern (Lower Left) and Royal Tern (Upper Right)
A nice comparison of these sometimes confusing species.

After the addition of this 1 species, the year's total stands at 239.

Today I rode a total of 26.8 miles

More later,


  1. Congratulations with nailing this one at home. This will save you from making another trip 'Up North' I guess.

  2. Thanks Wim. I am anticipating other reasons for heading North again. Stilt Sandpiper?

  3. Hi Glenn! My name is Jasen Liu and I have recently moved in as a UCSB freshman. I have been an avid green birder for the past few years and was wondering how to access Devereux Slough and Coal Oil Point by bike, as it seems that Slough Rd. is a cars-only road? Thank you so much and keep up the great birds!

  4. Hi Jasen - Welcome to Santa Barbara. I hope your birding and academic adventures here are good. It is no problem riding a bike on Slough Rd. You can also access the area from a nice path along the top of the bluffs starting at the West end of Del Playa in Isla Vista. Glenn