“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

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Day 299 - Figueroa Mountain and Ranger Peak. Santa Barbara Takes The Lead!

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

More later,

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