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



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


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


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


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


Lone Tree

(Spot the Hawk)

Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus)


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


Chestnut-sided Warbler
SPI Convention Center, TX


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


Northern Parula


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


Blackpoll Warbler (female)
Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1


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


Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos)


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


Common Tern

Outer Green Island, Maine


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


Red Knot
Alligator Point, FL


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


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




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

speakingofnature: The Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus…

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018


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.


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

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

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018


Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)


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


Tennessee Warbler at Lesser Slave Lake park

Laurenz Baars


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.

blogbirdfeather: Cattle Egret – Garça-boieira (Bubulcus…

Saturday, September 8th, 2018


Cattle Egret – Garça-boieira (Bubulcus ibis)

Mértola/Portugal (11/05/2018)

[Nikon D500; ∑ 150/600mm C; 1/1600s; F9; 800 ISO]



Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/177889306326.

renatagrieco: August 24, 2015 – Baird’s Sandpiper (Calidris…

Saturday, September 8th, 2018


August 24, 2015 – Baird’s Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii)

Requested by: derbytup

These small shorebirds nest in the high Arctic and northern Canada, where they spend most of the summer. Their migration brings them across the United States’ Great Plains and down through Central America to the coastlines of Chile and Argentina for the winter. Their diet includes many varieties of insects and other invertebrates. After arriving in the Arctic, females must survive for four days with no food and little body fat while laying a clutch of eggs that can weigh up to 120% of their bodyweight. After hatching, chicks are cared for by both parents, though the females often leave for migration before the males. The migration from the Arctic to South America is over 9,300 miles (about 15,000 kilometers) and many make the trip in as little as five weeks.



Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/177889075471.

brooklynbridgebirds: OvenbirdBrooklyn Bridge Park, Pier…

Saturday, September 8th, 2018


Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1


The latest cool rarity to show up locally was an Ovenbird reported yesterday in Goleta. Since I’d already used my lunch break to chase the Vermilion Flycatcher I couldn’t get away, so I had to cross my fingers and hope it would still be there this morning.

I was on the right path through the Coronado Butterfly Preserve’s eucalyptus grove as it was getting light, and almost the first bird I was able to make out was the Ovenbird doing its weird chicken-like walk down the path right in front of me.

So cool. 🙂

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/177882445531.

sundtravels: Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus This…

Friday, September 7th, 2018


Vermilion Flycatcher

Pyrocephalus rubinus

This flycatcher was among the group that took me to 200 birds in my life list of birds in North America. Texas has already provided us with many new birds and we look forward to adding many more.

This image was captured while visiting Brazos Bend State Park near the New Horseshoes Lake.


#293 (for reals this time)

The fall migration is really getting into gear, and the overcast conditions (aka “thick marine layer”) we’ve been having the last several days are making the birding better and better around Santa Barbara. Southbound migrants don’t like traveling when it’s like this, so they tend to pile up in the riparian habitat along the coast waiting for conditions to improve.

Yesterday I saw both a White-winged Dove and a Northern Waterthrush at Carpinteria Creek; both were legit rarities, though I already had both for the county year list. But then today in the same spot Larry and Joan found an immature Vermilion Flycatcher. I was tied up when the word went out, but as soon as I could I grabbed my binoculars and headed down to see if the bird was still there, and it was!

I’ve wanted to see one of these for a long time. I still need to see the adult male, because omg, but it was very cool to see this one, which I suspect was an immature female. She didn’t look exactly like the photo above; as a first-year bird she had a yellowish wash on her flanks, rather than that gorgeous strawberry color she’ll get later. But it was so much fun to finally see a bird that has been a celebrity to me since I was a kid.

“Gee. You’re smaller than I expected.” 😜

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/177846548241.