This morning birder and bird guide extraordinaire Wes Fritz joined me to search for birds around Figueroa Mountain. I was hoping to see species common to the area: Mountain Chickadee, Pygmy Nuthatch, Northern Pygmy Owl. Also there were recent reports of Golden-crowned Kinglets in the area. If we were lucky we might find something rarer, such as White-headed Woodpecker, Cassin's Finch or Townsend's Solitaire.
Shortly after leaving the campground we encountered a mixed flock of birds that included a few Pygmy Nuthatches. One down. Pygmy Nuthatch for #264!
We also began hearing the call of a Cassin's Finch. Sure enough a female (or 1st year male) finch appeared before us and we got good looks to differentiate it from the very similar Purple Finch. These included very crisp streaking on a white breast and streaking under the tail. This was a really good find, as I have only seen this species once before in Santa Barbara County. Cassin's Finch for #265!
We moved to nearby Catway Road hoping to find a Northern Pygmy Owl. We eventually heard one calling in the distance but could not see it. The next stop was Ranger Peak, which entailed a 1000 foot climb over 3 miles. Here we were rewarded with at least 2 calling Northern Pygmy Owls, but once again they were too shy to show themselves. The "heard-only" Northern Pygmy Owl joins the list at #266! I include below the only photo I ever took of this species, which was taken in this area in early 2014.
Northern Pygmy Owl
There was a good level of bird activity around Ranger Peak. Lots of Pygmy, Red-breasted, and White-breasted Nuthatches. Joining their party were a number of Mountain Chickadees. Mountain Chickadee for #267!
We spent the afternoon looking for more unusual species, but were unable to locate anything. In the evening a couple of Western Screech Owls were present in the campground and we managed a few photos, which was fun.
After a full day of searching for birds in the mountains I slept under a full moon and was serenaded by Great Horned Owls most of the night.
With today's additions I have pulled ahead of Vermont in the species race!
Some photos from today:
Nuttall's Woodpecker - Female
Northern Pygmy Owl (Ranger Peak Feb 2014)
Western Screech Owl
After the addition of these 4 species, the year's total stands at 267
The Score: Vermont 264, Green Big Year 267
Today I rode a total of 9.7 miles