After yesterday's smashing success around Santa Maria it was time to head home. I did have three stops planned to look for more birds. The weather forecast was for light but favorable winds which was a relief. I got started just before sunrise and made good progress, arriving at Zaca Station Road in the Santa Ynez Valley around 830.
I had good advice that this would be a fine place to find Lewis's Woodpecker. I am hoping to get back out to the Santa Ynez Valley but as I was passing right by why not look for this bird now? I searched for about 45 minutes before spotting one of these beauties. These large dark woodpeckers with the pink breasts can often be found flycatching off the tops of trees, as this one was this morning. I even managed a couple of distant photos. Lewis's Woodpecker joins the year's list at #277!
My next stop was a revisit to Gaviota State Park, hoping to find a Swamp Sparrow. By now the day was quite warm and the level of bird activity at the park was low. I saw few sparrows at all, none of them of the Swamp variety.
I continued down the coast enjoying the warm calm weather and excellent views of the ocean and Channel Islands. The riding was much more pleasant than the grind up to Santa Maria. My final stop was at the old Ocean Meadows Golf Course in Goleta, where the Grace's Warbler has returned for the winter. In fact it had been spotted there again this morning.
I decided to spend up to 45 minutes searching for this bird that has vexed me so many times this year. Well, 45 minutes came and went. I took some time to change a flat tire under some promising looking pine trees but the bird did not appear. A merlin hanging around the area was not helpful either. After a couple of "one last time" checks I departed after an hour and a half without a sighting of my nemesis bird. OK Mr Grace's Warbler - I'll be back!
The remainder of the ride was pleasant and uneventful. I was so grateful to be not fighting a headwind all day!
After the addition of this 1 species, the year's total stands at 277
The Score: Vermont 266, Green Big Year 277
Today I rode a total of 83.7 miles