“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

Friday, August 28, 2015

Day 240 - Black-throated Sparrow!

I headed out to Goleta this morning hoping to find some migrants.  My first stop was the "Coronado Seep" at the end of Coronado Drive.  This is an area where drainage collects from the Coronado Drive neighborhood and has historically been a good spot for fall migrants, especially warblers.  Unfortunately given the present drought situation there is not a drop of water to be found, and therefore not too many birds around either.  I am really feeling sorry for the birds out there right about now.

I continued to Lake Los Carneros hoping for better luck.  I arrived at the park to a chorus of lawn mowers and leaf blowers.  Was this any better than the garbage truck brigade I encountered at Coronado Drive?  The morning was not off to a tranquil start.

I got away from the noise ASAP and made my way around the lake.  The first interesting thing I encountered was a Willow Flycatcher, a fall migrant.  I tried mightily to get a photo of this bird but it simply would not cooperate!

Do you ever have a dream where you are with people you know at places you know but in real life these people and places are from different periods in your life and they would never overlap?  Well, this was the sort of situation I found myself in as I walked down towards the lake and put my binoculars on a sparrow.

I could see immediately this was a sparrow I was familiar with.  It had a pale gray head with two white stripes on the face, one above and one below the eye.  The adults of this species have bold black throats and chests - this bird did not, indicating an immature individual.  This is a bird species I see nearly every day in my yard - IN UTAH.  As I was presently in Goleta, this created no small amount of confusion in my mind.  Did I really just see a Black-throated Sparrow?  I checked my Field Guide to see if there were any other possibilities but I could find nothing that matched the distinct facial pattern of the Black-throated Sparrow.  The bird flew off before I could get my camera on it.  It would be really great to get a photo of a sighting like this.  I searched around for about 20 minutes trying to locate it again, but no luck.

Here is a photo of an immature Black-throated Sparrow I took last year in SE Utah:

Black-throated Sparrow, Immature. SE Utah 2014

I immediately posted this sighting to the local Bird List, questioning my sanity in the matter.  I got a couple replies that assured me this is indeed a rare migrant to this area.

When I got home I checked ebird, here is the map of sightings in the local area:  No sightings!

Black-throated Sparrow, all years, Santa Barbara

OK, not everybody posts their sightings to ebird, so I checked "The Birds of Santa Barbra County" by Paul Lehman.  He lists a total of 14 fall migration sightings in the local area.  So not totally unheard of but a huge unexpected surprise for me this morning.  As you can guess this bird was not on my radar but I am happy to add it as #241 for the year's list!  It just goes to show (once again) you never know what you'll find out there!

A few photos from today:

A distant Western Tanager

Brewer's Blackbird

 Double-crested Cormorant

Ring-necked Duck

After the addition of this 1 species, the year's total stands at 241.

Today I rode a total of 29.3 miles

More later,

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