This morning I set out on a 3 day jaunt to the northern part of Santa Barbara County - Santa Maria and environs. I have not gotten to these parts yet this year and there are some birds just waiting for me to catch up with them.
The weather forecast was for some wind. I was hoping it would not be too much of a problem. The first 30 miles or so were smooth sailing. When I was within a mile or so of the pass at Gaviota someone switched on the wind and suddenly it was blowing a gale. This area is often very windy so I was hoping that once I passed through things would calm down a bit.
But first things first. I had arranged to meet Wes Fritz at nearby Gaviota State Park where he thought we could find a Swamp Sparrow. We searched around the park for awhile without turning up any Swamp Sparrow but did see this interesting white House Finch:
Albino or Leucistic House Finch
As we were peering down into the creek hoping that the Swamp Sparrow would materialize, we heard behind us a distinct "kip kip kip" call. We turned around to see 3 Red Crossbills flying away from the shore heading inland. It was a massive surprise to see these mountain-dwelling birds right at the beach! We followed after them but were unable to relocate the birds. Perhaps the heavy offshore wind had blown them down to the coast. At any rate, Red Crossbill joins the year list at #271!
After giving up on the Swamp Sparrow I continued my journey north. Unfortunately the wind did not let up and I rode for the next 50 miles into a very unpleasant and tiring headwind. I had planned to make a couple of stops along the way to look for birds but in the end I just kept trying to move forward into the wind. I finally reached Santa Maria about 5PM, just before the light started to fade. It was early to bed for me, for I had big plans for the next day.
After the addition of this 1 species, the year's total stands at 271
The Score: Vermont 266, Green Big Year 271
Today I rode a total of 81.0 miles