“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, October 17, 2015

Day 290 - Two Great Birds!

Yesterday while my bike was in the shop getting some worn out parts replaced Nick Lethaby reported a Magnolia Warbler at Refugio State Beach.  This is a bird I have only seen once, and never in Santa Barbara County.  I headed that way this morning hoping that it might still be around.

When I arrived Matt Victoria and Brad Hacker were already there looking for it.  There were hardly any birds around - it took about twenty minutes to see our first Yellow-rumped Warbler.  After about an hour Brad left, and as Matt and I were surveying the creek from the bridge the bird activity level began to pick up.  In among the Yellow-rumped Warblers and various sparrows was a Nashville Warbler which we watched forage for a few minutes.  Suddenly Matt said "Magnolia!"  and there was our bird taking a bath in the creek.  It did not stay long, but long enough to join the year's list at #260!  Matt did get some photos.  We stuck around for another 45 minutes hoping the Magnolia Warbler would return.  It did not.  In fact the bird activity dropped down to practically nothing once again.

 Magnolia Warbler - Photo By Matt Victoria

Note - this incident perfectly demonstrates one of my pet theories.  When there is an unusual bird around the chances of it showing up increase dramatically if one of the birdwatchers leaves.

I headed for home and stopped in Goleta for a bite to eat.  I figured I got my bird for the day so was not planning on looking for birds anywhere else.  As I was getting on the bike to head for home the phone rang.  It was Matt - "Have you seen a Rose-breasted Grosbeak yet this year?"  He and Peter Gaede were looking at one at Coronado Drive.  So I turned around and sprinted the 4+ miles back to Coronado Drive where I found Matt looking up near the top of a large Eucalyptus tree where he had last seen the Grosbeak.  Sure enough after a couple of minutes it appeared and began foraging in the top of the tree.  It appeared to be a young male (perhaps just a male in winter plumage) and its lovely rose-colored breast could easily be seen from below.  It slunk back into the foliage and we did not see it again.  Matt also has photos of this bird (I had not even gotten my camera out when the Grosbeak appeared).  Rose-breasted Grosbeak for #261!  Interestingly enough the only other time I have seen this species in Santa Barbara County was about 50 yards from where we were standing.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak - Photo By Matt Victoria

Thanks Matt!

Last time I checked Vermont was holding steady at 261 species.  When I looked again this afternoon Vermont had gained 1 and is now at 262 species.  The race remains very tight!

Some photos from today:

Red-breasted Sapsucker

Nashville Warbler

Black Phoebe

A rather distant Hairy Woodpecker

After the addition of these 2 species, the year's total stands at 261

The Score: Vermont 262, Green Big Year 261

Today I rode a total of 54.7 miles

More later,


  1. Yep, I went to the Drip yesterday and got the RBGR briefly as well. Also my yearly SBMU. Such a great spot, I wish it was closer to Ventura County.

  2. John - glad you got to see the Grosbeak. That spot has been very good to me this fall. I imagine very shortly you will be seeing Munias closer to home on a regular basis.