Between work and holiday commitments I’ve got three more decent opportunities to add to my county…

Between work and holiday commitments I’ve got three more decent opportunities to add to my county year list before the year is over.

Tomorrow I plan to go to Surf Beach to try scoping for scoters. Mark had White-winged and Black Scoters not far from there recently on Vandenberg Air Force Base. I don’t have access to the base, but there’s an Amtrak stop (really just a platform and a sign) that I can get to, with a high dune that gives views of the coast to the south. I’m going to try to be there early before the wind picks up and with the morning sun (hopefully) behind me.

The high surf forecast is problematic; good for surfers is bad for birders, as distant scoters that pop into view only when they’re both a) on the surface and b) on the crest of a wave can be super frustrating to find much less identify. But it’s the only opportunity I have, so I’ll make the most of it.

If time allows I’ll also check nearby Ocean Beach Park for an American Bittern and any unexpected shorebirds or waterfowl. Chances of a new county year bird there are slim, but again, I have to do what I can with the opportunities I have left.

Thursday is the Cachuma Christmas count, where my territory includes a spot where Northern Pygmy-Owls have been seen in the past. I’ll be trying for Grasshopper Sparrows first; during scouting yesterday I got lucky and was able to get photos of one; hopefully I can repeat that on Thursday. Assuming I do I’ll move on to the NOPO spot. I plan to use playback, which I normally avoid, so I feel like my chances are decent. We didn’t have any owls yesterday in that location, but I’ll be by myself and will hopefully have more time on Thursday, so:🤞

My last chance will be New Year’s Eve. I’ll make a decision then what my best opportunity is; maybe one last try for Northern Pygmy-Owl, either at Ranger Peak or closer to home on the Baron Ranch Trail.

I’m in the lead by one species among active eBirders in the county, but I don’t trust Mark; I bet he’s got two or three birds he’s waiting to spring on me at the last second. 😜 We’ve never discussed it; birder “cool” requires pretending strenuously not to care about such things. Or maybe that’s just me, and no one else actually does care.


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Tags: birds, foolishness, santa barbara county year list.

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