“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

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Day 266 - An Unexpected Mountain Visitor

This morning's outing started off with Bird Class.  Today class was held at the Bird Refuge followed by a visit to the Mission Creek Outflow along the Santa Barbara Waterfront.  Since I had to ride right by the Mission Creek Outflow to get to the Bird Refuge I stopped there to scout it out.  I found very few birds, but one of them was a Pectoral Sandpiper.  While not super rare this is a bird that shows up only during migration.  I hoped it would stick around until the class arrived here later.

At the Bird Refuge we found the water a kind of maroon color.  Last week it was bright pink, due to some sort of algae bloom.  Luckily the odor level was way down so it was a pleasant place to be.  There were a decent number of birds around, but nothing terribly unusual.  The most interesting bird we saw here was a White-faced Ibis.  Another migrant that will not linger long.

We headed on to the Mission Creek Outflow where thankfully the Pectoral Sandpiper was still around, and the class all got good looks at it.  The diversity of birds was fairly low for this spot  but we did get to see some interesting behavior - a crow was chasing a Belted Kingfisher around and around the area.  The crow simply would not give up!  There is always something new to see when you are out birding.

After class I headed out towards Coronado Drive in Goleta to try and catch up with some more migrating warblers.  In the last couple of days there have been reports of Blackpoll, Tennessee, and Virginia Warblers in this area.  All would be good to see.  When I arrived I noticed that the water level in the puddle had dropped considerably.  There were no warblers to be seen for the first 15 minutes - not a good start.  Eventually they started showing up but my hoped-for species were not among them.

I was watching with Matt Victoria and Bill Murdoch when Matt said "Red-breasted Nuthatch" and sure enough way in the distance we could hear the distinct nasal call.  These birds are usually found only in the mountains but do sometimes come down to the coastal plain.  In some years there are quite a few that come down in the winter.  I was expecting to have to ride into the mountains to find one this year.  Red-breasted Nuthatch for bird #251!

As he was departing Matt heard the bird in a nearby pine tree.  Sure enough it eventually became visible as it actively worked its way through the top of the tree.  I even managed to get the world's worst Red-breasted Nuthatch photo.

Red-breasted Nuthatch.  Really!
It's that tan looking blob under the pine cones.

Some other photos from today:

Pectoral Sandpiper

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Yellow Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

After the addition of this 1 species, the year's total stands at 251

Today I rode a total of 35.2 miles

More later,

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