Townsend’s Warbler (Setophaga townsendi)Another shot of the…

Monday, October 15th, 2018

Townsend’s Warbler (Setophaga townsendi)

Another shot of the little dude who made my morning at the local cemetery.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/179088003299.

Dæmon Analysis: Vesper Sparrow

Monday, October 15th, 2018

urbandaemons:

Personality: Cheerful, outgoing, opportunistic. Vesper sparrows like to see the best in people and in different situations. As a rule, they tend to stay with a large circle of friends, and get lonely easily. People with vesper sparrow dæmons may not seek out change, but if it comes their way they roll with it, and they excel at recognising a promising opportunity.

Historical/Contemporary Figure: Jimmy Fallon (TV show host)

Fictional Characters: Kaylee Fry (Firefly)
                                                                                                         – Raylen

#317

I think it’s my favorite place in the county, San Miguelito Road. Every time I’ve gone there it’s felt special. I was thinking about it yesterday, trying to figure out what it is, specifically. I think it’s the lack of traffic. It’s 10 miles deep in the winding hills south of Lompoc. There are a few farms, and a distant view of the ocean, but the road just ends at the locked gate for Vandenberg (where they do the west coast rocket launches), so no one really goes there. I arrived at sunrise and stayed most of the day, walking down the middle of the paved road birdwatching, and in all that time I think I saw four cars on the road not counting mine.

I was there because there’s a Pinyon Jay irruption happening, and last week someone saw the first Pinyon Jays in Santa Barbara County since 2000 along that road. There’s no reason to think they’re still there; Pinyon Jays are notorious wanderers, thinly spread and hard to find even within their normal range, and these were on the far side of the county from where they presumably entered, via the mountains south of Cuyama. But it was as good a place as any to find them, and I really like going there. So I went.

I mentioned in the tags of a different post about all the great raptors I saw: Golden Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, and Prairie Falcon, for starters, each one a legit bird celebrity that would have made my day on its own. But the real star for me were two little brown jobs skulking in the close-cropped grass next to the road: gray-brown streaking, complete white eye ring, light malar patch surrounded by a dark border; yeah! Vesper Sparrow!

I’d been thinking about Vesper Sparrows a lot lately.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/179087258606.

klemannlee:Blue-Winged Warbler#316This was kind of hilarious….

Saturday, October 13th, 2018

klemannlee:

Blue-Winged Warbler

#316

This was kind of hilarious. Nick Lethaby (who finds a disproportionate share of the rare birds in Santa Barbara County) put the word out at 9:28 a.m. that he’d found a Blue-winged Warbler in Carpinteria Creek. This is a big deal; it’s a first county record. And it was 5 minutes from my house, on a non-work day. So yeah; I obviously wanted to go check it out.

But there was a problem: I’d signed up for a table shift at the local supermarket in support of a local ballot measure (Measure X; don’t forget to vote, Carpinterians), and my shift started at 10. I went to Carp Creek and hung out on the 8th Street Bridge as long as I could, but I only had a few minutes and wasn’t really expecting to see the bird. Honestly, I was just thinking well, maybe Nick will be there and will be able to point out the bird to me. No luck, though; no bird, no birders.

At the tabling shift the group texts started coming in: more birders arriving, searching, and eventually refinding the bird, yay! Meanwhile, I was about 150 yards away chatting with shoppers about the city’s budget issues. I got a personal text: “Where are you?”

“I’ll be there as soon as I can!”

At noon my volunteer shift ended and I raced back to the creek. When I got to the bridge and looked upstream I saw the best thing possible: About 10 avid county birders all looking intently at the same point on the creek bank. Yeah!

A minute later I’d joined them and was getting great views of the bird, which was gorgeous.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/179033574046.

Townsend’s Warbler (Setophaga townsendi)Gray morning, bright…

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

Townsend’s Warbler (Setophaga townsendi)

Gray morning, bright bird. At the local cemetery.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178950466836.

White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus)Carpinteria Bluffs, 2018-10-09

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus)

Carpinteria Bluffs, 2018-10-09

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178909744376.

debunkshy: Bobolink Schurch-Thomson Prairie, WI,…

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

debunkshy:

Bobolink

Schurch-Thomson Prairie, WI, 6-18-17

#315

One of those birds I’d always read about growing up but never saw, because it’s an eastern species that’s rare along the Pacific coast.

Hugh (same Hugh who got the amazing shot of the humpback breaching on Saturday’s pelagic trip) reported one from Elings Park in Santa Barbara yesterday, so I got up early today and went looking. Conor was there before me, so I walked up and asked if he’d seen the Bobolink.

“Actually, yeah.” Oh wow; when? “About 5 minutes ago.”

I headed off in the direction he indicated, and a few minutes later I saw it: like a big sparrow, but with an overall yellowish wash, pale lores, and pointed wings when it flew. Yay!

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178898960276.

October 6 PelagicI went on what will probably end up being my…

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

October 6 Pelagic

I went on what will probably end up being my last-of-the-year pelagic birding trip out of Ventura Harbor last weekend. The sunrise was pretty. And the birds! The official lists are still being tabulated, but it looks good for 6 new county-year birds for me. It gets tricky because we were passing back and forth through Ventura and Santa Barbara County waters – and actually a tiny bit of LA County waters as well. Because of my county year list obsession I was more excited about the Santa Barbara birds than the Ventura birds. But they were all great.

My sister and brother-in-law came along and it was fun to share the obsession with them. M’Liz volunteers with the American Cetacean Society’s gray whale census, so she’s all about the marine mammals; her favorite part of the trip was when we cruised alongside a humpacked whale that rewarded us with a full-on out-of-the-water breach. Hugh Ranson was one of the people who got a photo of the breach in-progress.

I’ll talk about the new county year birds I saw after a cut to preserve your dash.

Note: Except as indicated, the photos below aren’t by me and don’t show the actual birds I saw. They’re photos I googled up that generous people have shared under a Creative Commons license.

#309: Pomarine Jaeger (Stercorarius pomarinus)

Photo by Martyne Reesman, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

We saw several “poms” as we were heading out past Anacapa Island, and kept seeing them as we headed south into the “donut hole” (the circle of ocean around Santa Barbara Island that has been deemed part of Santa Barbara County for bird-listing purposes). One of the birds even had the breeding-plumage “spoons” (long central tail feathers with a twist at the end) that you can see in this photo. I’ve always wanted to see those!

#310: Craveri’s Murrelet (Synthliboramphus craveri)

Photo by Tom Benson

We saw (and heard, one time) a few pairs of these as we approached Santa Barbara Island. Later, on the trip home, we saw a few more pairs, then one trio that I assume was mom, dad, and a chick. They were all adorable.

#311: Least Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma microsoma)

Photo by Alan Schmierer

This is a species that I saw, technically, but would not have been able to identify from the brief look I got if it weren’t for a boatload of experts shouting, “Least Storm-Petrel!” But with the benefit of their input I did notice that this storm-petrel was super tiny compared to the Black and Ashy Storm-Petrels we’d been seeing.

#312: Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii)

Photo by Vince Smith

This was a biggee for me. I’ve always wanted to see one, and I knew one had been seen on the previous Island Packers pelagic trip (which I didn’t go on). Then one had been seen just a few days before our trip, hanging out at Santa Barbara Island with the big group of Brown Boobies that nested there this year, so we were hoping it would still be there. And… it was!

Hugh’s photo of the bird we saw is here. Here’s a shot from my phone of the upper deck after the excitement had started to wear off:

The Blue-footed Booby is actually in the shot; here it is cropped and arrowed:

Those other specks on the cliff are mostly Brown Boobies. It was a very booby day. 🙂

#313: Buller’s Shearwater

Photo by Jamie Chavez

We saw one of these mixed in with the thousands of Black-vented Shearwaters and the few dozen Pink-footed Shearwaters we steamed through in Ventura County waters, so I was primed and on the lookout for another near Santa Barbara Island. No more showed up, though, and I was thinking I wouldn’t get to add one to the county list, when bam! One showed up right next to the boat, zipping by under the bow and giving a beautiful view of that “M” pattern on its upper wings and back. Yay!

These birds are amazing. They breed in New Zealand, then spend the year doing a huge clockwise circle around the Pacific Ocean. Dave Pereksta, the birder who organized this trip, said he thinks they’re the prettiest of the shearwaters. I think he’s right.

#314: Sabine’s Gull (Xema sabini)

Photo by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren

As we headed back toward the harbor I was happy with the birds I’d seen, and starting to settle into that tired-and-sitting-and-comparing-notes phase that all pelagic trips seem to end on, when the boat slowed unexpectedly. A kelp paddy to starboard had some terns on it… Common Terns, it turns out, which are great birds, though a species I already had for the county year list. But mixed in with them were two Sabine’s Gulls! 😀

Booby addendum:

I’m burying the lead, but the big news from the trip was the boobies: We saw all five booby species in a single day, which Dave Pereksta believes had not been done before in the ABA area:

  • A Masked Booby (my first ever) on Anacapa Island (Ventura County, alas)
  • A Red-footed Booby (also my first ever) that flew alongside the boat as we steamed south (also in Ventura County)
  • The aforementioned Brown Boobies on Santa Barbara Island
  • The Blue-footed Booby on Santa Barbara Island
  • A Nazca Booby that we chased down in a big group of shearwaters southeast of Santa Barbara Island (a great bird, and in the right county, but a species I already saw on a previous trip)

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178893003091.

Townsend’s Warbler (Setophaga townsendi)I never see a Townsend’s…

Monday, October 8th, 2018

Townsend’s Warbler (Setophaga townsendi)

I never see a Townsend’s Warbler without a little jolt of excitement. This one was gleaning insects in a cedar at the local cemetery.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178856457271.

julesofnature: Rose-breasted Grosbeak female “Every day we…

Monday, October 1st, 2018

julesofnature:

Rose-breasted Grosbeak female

“Every day we should hear at least one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture, and, if possible, speak a few sensible words.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

#308

In the eucs by the Lake Los Carneros parking, where I was looking for (and failing to find, again) the male Summer Tanager that’s been seen around there (just not by me) for weeks.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178649310861.

mostlythemarsh: Lone Tree(Spot the Hawk) Broad-winged Hawk…

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

mostlythemarsh:

Lone Tree

(Spot the Hawk)

Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus)

#307

Four of them circling together just south of the hawk watch site in Bella Vista Drive. They’re an eastern species that winters in Mexico; this is the time of year when a few wandering youngsters come down the Pacific Flyway. If you’re in the right spot and have a bit of luck you can see them. I was and I did, so I did! Yay! 🙂

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178531558561.

debunkshy:Chestnut-sided WarblerSPI Convention Center,…

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

debunkshy:

Chestnut-sided Warbler
SPI Convention Center, TX
4-26-18

#306

They’d been seeing it at Winchester One, the same place I saw the Blackpoll. This morning I had a dentist appointment out near there at 9 a.m., so I went and looked at sunrise for the bird. Just before I had to leave Nick showed up and helped me find the bird. 😀

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178470635056.

permagrinphoto: Northern Parula #305Found one myself, in the…

Monday, September 24th, 2018

permagrinphoto:

Northern Parula

#305

Found one myself, in the tipu trees in downtown Carp. It takes a certain (smallish) effort for someone like me, introvert, to walk around a city street with binoculars and a camera staring into the treetops. But then I see a bird like this and suddenly I don’t care at all.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178437078201.

brooklynbridgebirds:Blackpoll Warbler (female)Brooklyn Bridge…

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

brooklynbridgebirds:

Blackpoll Warbler (female)
Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1

#304

One had been seen all week at Winchester One, a pocket park in Goleta with some lerped eucalyptus and a bunch of migrating warblers. I couldn’t get out there to chase it until today, but I finally did, and the bird was kind enough both to be there and to pose for a fuzzy documentation photo. Yay!

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178406027751.

acryptozoo: Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) #303Another…

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

acryptozoo:

Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos)

#303

Another one where I chase the reported bird before work, spend a couple of hours enjoying other birds but not the one I’m hoping for, give up and start to head back, and boom; there it is.

Distant views and crappy photos, but definitely the bird. 😀👍

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178220019971.

sage-bird: Common Tern Outer Green Island, Maine #302Several…

Monday, September 17th, 2018

sage-bird:

Common Tern

Outer Green Island, Maine

#302

Several of these have been seen lately at Ocean Beach Park, out west of Lompoc. It’s an hour and half drive for me, so I can’t just up and go, but new county year birds are hard to come by past #300, so last Saturday I set the alarm for 0430 and tried for them.

And… nope. Lots of terns on the sandbar across the bay from the only accessible spot; I stared through my spotting scope for as long as I had, but no luck.

I came home, but later that day a report came in from someone who’d seen them out there shortly after I left. Sigh.

Fast-forward to this morning. I wanted to play with the new camera, so I headed down to the end of Linden Avenue (5 minutes from home) before work to take pictures of gulls. And…

Hello, Common Tern! 😀👍

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178191098396.

debunkshy:Red KnotAlligator Point, FL12-26-17 #301I saw the bird…

Friday, September 14th, 2018

debunkshy:

Red Knot
Alligator Point, FL
12-26-17

#301

I saw the bird while birding yesterday with an old acquaintance, Rob H., whom I hadn’t seen in 30 years. The bird was associating with some Willets on the beach near the mouth of Carpinteria Creek, but was clearly smaller than they were. I ended up convincing myself it was a Wandering Tattler, even after Rob commented on how weird it was that it wasn’t bobbing its tail. Also troubling was that its legs weren’t the bright yellow of the Tattler, but were distinctly greenish. And that whole foraging-on-the-beach thing was wrong for Tattler; they like rocks. In hindsight I should have taken more time to figure out what was going on.

Fast forward to last night, when a report came in from Peter S. of two Red Knots at Devereaux. I was planning to go up there this morning before work to see if they were still there, so I set the alarm for 5 a.m. While getting ready to leave this morning I saw that Peter had posted a photo, so I checked it out.

Oh. Heh. Peter’s birds looked exactly like the one I saw yesterday. Everything clicked into place: The legs, the non-bobbing, the sandy beach. I’d seen a Red Knot without realizing it.

Something I chatted with Rob about as we were finishing up yesterday took on extra resonance. We were talking about getting IDs wrong, and needing to always second-guess oneself. I commented about how back in the old days I was wrong all the time, too. But back then I wouldn’t necessarily realize it; I’d just never find out. Now, with eBird and chasing rarities such that I’m sometimes rubbing shoulders with really expert birders, my errors have the potential to be embarrassingly public.

It’s educational, which is great. And the embarrassment serves a useful purpose. Also, at least in this case the mistake being corrected means I picked up a bird for the county year list rather than losing one, like I did with my “Pectoral Sandpiper” Sanderling.

Anyway. Onward.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178080130746.

brooklynbridgebirds:American Redstart (female)Brooklyn Bridge…

Wednesday, September 12th, 2018

brooklynbridgebirds:

American Redstart (female)
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Pier 6, Exploratory Marsh

#300

🎊🎉🎂

😀

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/178013915831.

speakingofnature: The Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus…

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

speakingofnature:

The Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus) is a strong and rapid flyer. They primarily nest in northern Canada. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that their nests and eggs were discovered.

#299

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/177998401156.

awkwardtypo: Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) #298There’d…

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

awkwardtypo:

Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)

#298

There’d been a few reports from Campus Point at UCSB over the last few weeks about a Ruddy Turnstone mixed in with the Black Turnstones we normally get. I saw that the tide was fairly low as I was driving back from seeing the Tennessee Warbler at Refugio, so I thought I’d give it a try.

It was right there, just where it was supposed to be, still hanging out with the Black Turnstones. Yeah!

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/177981292911.

laurenzbaars: Tennessee Warbler at Lesser Slave Lake…

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

laurenzbaars:

Tennessee Warbler at Lesser Slave Lake park

Laurenz Baars

#297

Peter S. had one at Refugio State Beach yesterday, so I headed up there at first light to see if it would still be around. And it was! It popped down and took a bath in the creek right in front of me just as I was about to call it a day and head back. I love it when that happens. 🙂

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/177981247111.