Yesterday afternoon a very reliable report came in that there was a Gray Flycatcher at the old Ocean Meadows Golf Course. This bird is a very uncommon visitor to our area, definitely less than 1 per year. I have not yet seen one in Santa Barbara County. You may recall I had been at this very spot in the morning, leaving for home about 11AM. Hmmm....
As I had already been out that way once, and it was getting late, I decided not to race back there and hope that the bird stayed until today.
I got an early start, it was a chilly morning, barely above 40 degrees. For those of us in Southern California, this is cold - trust me. I arrived around 7:30 and began searching the area where the bird was seen the previous afternoon. There was a good deal of activity in the area, but I did not see the flycatcher. The activity died off when a Kestrel came swooping in, chasing a Yellow-rumped Warbler right by my head.
As the birds had scattered I headed off in the direction of where the Grace's Warbler can theoretically be found. About halfway to this spot I noticed a small bird repeatedly flying off a downed and dead tree to the ground. I got my binocs on it, and lo and behold there was the Gray Flycatcher. These little flycatchers can be notoriously difficult to identify. Luckily this species has a habit of bobbing its tail, slowly down and quickly up. I spent awhile watching the bird hunt - it caught and devoured a rather large cricket. It was quite cooperative with the camera. Gray Flycatcher joins the list at #280!
I went off in search of the mythical Grace's Warbler (seen yesterday afternoon - really!). Not surprisingly it was not in its "usual" spot so I wandered farther afield, checking all the pine trees.
Other birders began arriving to see the Gray Flycatcher. I joined them, we refound the bird and everyone got good looks at it. Then together we went looking for the Grace's Warbler. Even assisted by 6 excellent birders the Grace's Warbler could not be found. I am beginning to wonder if I will actually see this bird this year.
Some photos from today:
Gray Flycatcher - just swallowed a cricket.
After the addition of this 1 species, the year's total stands at 280
The Score: Vermont 274, Green Big Year 280
Today I rode a total of 27.5 miles