Let's get right to the point - Does anyone know what this is?
Yes ladies and gentlemen, this is a Grace's Warbler.
This final morning there was really only one bird I felt up to chasing, the dreaded Grace's Warbler. This bird had managed to escape my gaze for all this year. I have actually lost count of the number of times I went looking for this bird. I would guess around 15.
I left early to maximize the amount of time I had to search. Let me tell you it was a COLD 38 degrees riding out through Goleta. I decided to take a little detour to try and get a look at a Burrowing Owl that had been reported recently. I spent 20-30 minutes at this, eventually finding it. Owls are cool.
I then continued one last time this year to the old Ocean Meadows Golf Course. Here I met Barb Millett who was doing her scouting for the upcoming Santa Barbara Christmas Bird Count. She was talking to some other birders, and I heard her say "Grace's" and "8:41". It was now 9:00. I asked and she confirmed that 8:41 was the last time she had seen the Grace's Warbler. I was within 20 minutes of my nemesis bird! At this point I was thinking that searching for that Burrowing Owl was perhaps not such a great idea.
I hustled up to the spot where the Grace's Warbler was last seen. Within a few minutes I had the bird in my sight. I must admit there were generous feelings of joy and relief. I stalked the bird around for awhile, watching it forage and trying to get any sort of decent photo. Eventually the two other birders came by and we all enjoyed views of this little beauty.
A great ending to a great adventure!
I took a casual victory lap around Goleta checking a few spots for anything unusual. None were found. It had turned into a beautiful calm and almost warm morning. I savored the ride home knowing I had finally vanquished my nemesis bird for the year.
The New Year's Eve dinner guests will be arriving soon. Look for a post with more reflection, statistics, and other boring stuff in a couple of days.
In the meantime I would like to show some appreciation and gratitude for the tremendous amount of help I have received in my year long adventure. I will no doubt have forgotten someone, so apologies in advance for that. First and foremost, I would like to thank my family for putting up with this crazy behavior! Next, anyone who shared their bird sightings via ebird or the local SBcobirding group. This information was invaluable all year long. Also, the blog readers who have made this whole thing so much more interesting for me. And finally these individuals that provided advice, bird location info, ID help, and so much more:
Jamie Chavez, Dave Compton, Joan Cotich, Rebecca Coulter, Jared Dawson, Wes Fritz, Peter Gaede, Noah Gaines, Mark Holmgren, Nick Lethaby, Joan Lentz, Kate McCurdy, Barbara Millett, Liz Muraoka, Bill and Joan Murdoch, Adrien O’Loghlen, Libby Patten, George Roland, Peter Schneekloth, Maggie Sheriffs, Jenny Slaughter, Guy Tingos, Tom Turner, Wim Van Dam, Matt Victoria
After the addition of this 1 species the final total for the Green Big Year is 285!
The Score: Vermont 279, Green Big Year 285
Today I rode a total of 27.9 miles, for a total of 4409.0 miles for the year.