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!

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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. 😀👍

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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! 😀👍

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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.

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brooklynbridgebirds:American Redstart (female)Brooklyn Bridge…

Wednesday, September 12th, 2018


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




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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.


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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!

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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. 🙂

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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]



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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.



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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. 🙂

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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.” 😜

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lies: acryptozoo: Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris…

Monday, September 3rd, 2018



Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos)


While chasing the Pacific Golden-Plover yesterday I was basically in shorebird heaven. There were SO MANY SHOREBIRDS roaming the thick accumulation of wrack on Goleta West Beach. One bird that intrigued me was in a large group of Sanderlings; it was just a tad bigger than they were, with a sharp demarcation between the streaked breast and the white belly. I took a bunch of (crappy) photos through my spotting scope and compared them to references when I got home.

I wish I’d been close enough to see the yellow legs, but even without that I think it’s clear enough to make the call. Pectoral Sandpiper it is. 🙂👍

And… nope. Experts tell me (and with the benefit of hindsight I should have realized) it was a Sanderling that stood out from the rest because it was still in breeding plumage.

So erase this as county year bird #289 and decrease all subsequent birds by one.

It’s embarrassing to have gotten it wrong, not so much because I didn’t know the difference (because there’s always more to learn) but because I let my desire for it to be a new bird overcome my judgment about how sure I could be about the ID.

This is the third time this year I’ve done something like this (that I know of). Once I tried to make a Greater Yellowlegs into a Lesser, and twice I’ve tried to turn Sanderlings into something else: once into a Western Sandpiper and now into a Pectoral Sandpiper.

I’m getting better at identifying the tricky ones, and mistakes are helpful for learning. But clearly I need to put some time into sustained shorebird study.

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permagrinphoto: Eastern Kingbird  #293The last few days have…

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018


Eastern Kingbird 


The last few days have been kind of out of control bird-wise. This morning there was a report of an Eastern Kingbird at Lake Los Carneros. It was a while before I could get up there, but I gave it a try. No luck at first, though I did get an extended look at a Virginia Rail, which was a first for me. (I’d heard them before, and added them to the county year list a while ago based on that, but it was awesome to actually see one.)

After a while I gave up and went back to the parking lot, intending to have a quick look for the Summer Tanager that had been seen there a few times in the past week before heading home. There were a few Western Tanagers that kept me busy for a while, and by the time I’d finished I figured it was worth taking one more turn down to the lake to see if the Eastern Kingbird had come back.

I got down there, confirmed that it wasn’t there, and turned to leave for real. But as I was walking away, almost wistfully, I listened to the Eastern Kingbird call on the Sibley app. Then, behind me, I thought I heard the same call.

I turned around and there it was. Yowza.

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debunkshy: Brewer’s Sparrow (documentary) Florida Canyon, AZ,…

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018


Brewer’s Sparrow (documentary)

Florida Canyon, AZ, 1-14-17


I got used to seeing Brewer’s Sparrows in the sagebrush on my trips to Mammoth this summer, so I was already familiar with their understated charm. I’d never seen one in Santa Barbara county though. So it was exciting to see a post to the sbcobirding list from Hugh yesterday that one was at Eling’s Park.

Some research in eBird and Lehman’s Birds of Santa Barbara County taught me that Brewer’s Sparrows have showed up at Eling’s Park during fall migration a few times in recent years. I got up early to chase this one, but as I walked the park at dawn I wasn’t very hopeful. Sparrows that aren’t singing on their breeding territory can be tough to spot, and for birds that don’t stand out (and even for some that do) chasing a rarity often is a low-probability sort of thing.

So I wasn’t expecting too much. I enjoyed wandering the park, though, birding a spot I’d never birded before. I spun a new Pokéstop and took over a new gym, so that part was a success. After two hours I’d basically given up, and was giving the gym one last spin, by the big semicircular stone bench near where the paragliders take off (apparently; they weren’t flying this morning), when there it was, hopping on the ground under a small pepper tree: Brewer’s Sparrow. 🙂

I don’t have actual numbers, but I feel like that happens a lot. It’s only when I’ve given up, gotten out of my own way, that I finally relax and see the bird.

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daddysbirds: Virginia’s warbler #291When I got to Refugio to look for the White-winged Dove I…

Saturday, September 1st, 2018


Virginia’s warbler


When I got to Refugio to look for the White-winged Dove I wasn’t even thinking abut the Virginia’s Warbler that had been reported there this morning; I hadn’t heard about it. But I quickly found out from the other birders who were there. I was standing on the bridge checking out the eucalyptus where it had been seen when Libby, who’d had a brief view of it before I arrived but was hoping for a better look because it was a life bird for her (as it was for me), called out, “Ooh! There it is!”

The bird was in a lemonade berry bush about 30 eet away. Then it flew to a closer bush, about 15 feet away. Then it flew into the bush RIGHT NEXT TO US.

It was very exciting. Hyperventilation may have been involved. 🙂

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birdsandbirds: White-winged DoveWarbler Woods Bird…

Saturday, September 1st, 2018


White-winged Dove

Warbler Woods Bird Sanctuary

Cibolo, TX


I saw this morning that people were still seeing one or more White-winged Doves at Refugio State Beach. I’d already made one (unsuccessful) trip out there to look for them a few days ago, but knowing they were still there I headed out again. This time it worked! I got great views of one perched above the stone bridge over the creek in the campground.

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acryptozoo: Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) #289While…

Friday, August 31st, 2018


Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos)


While chasing the Pacific Golden-Plover yesterday I was basically in shorebird heaven. There were SO MANY SHOREBIRDS roaming the thick accumulation of wrack on Goleta West Beach. One bird that intrigued me was in a large group of Sanderlings; it was just a tad bigger than they were, with a sharp demarcation between the streaked breast and the white belly. I took a bunch of (crappy) photos through my spotting scope and compared them to references when I got home.

I wish I’d been close enough to see the yellow legs, but even without that I think it’s clear enough to make the call. Pectoral Sandpiper it is. 🙂👍

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hiimlesphotos:Pacific Golden Plover #288Libby found a Pacific…

Thursday, August 30th, 2018


Pacific Golden Plover


Libby found a Pacific Golden-Plover on Goleta Beach out near UCSB yesterday hanging around with all the Black-bellied Plovers. Jasen and Nick were still seeing it late in the day, so I set the alarm for 4:30 and was there before sunrise this morning.

No luck. :-(

I met Brad looking for the same bird, but he didn’t see it either. So I headed home to go to work. The great thing about crack-of-dawn birding is you can see lots of great birds and still be at work by 9.

Forty-five minutes later Marge and Don posted to eBird with photos of the bird, taken right where I’d been, just after I left. Argh!

So later in the day I made another trip, and this time I found the bird; yay! When I got there I saw Brad in the distance, so I know he went back, too. He carries a camera with a ginormous lens when he’s chasing rarities, so I was hoping he saw the bird and got photos better than the blurry ones I digiscoped from a distance. And he did! Check it out.

What a gorgeous bird.

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Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)Photo by Wikipedia user…

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)

Photo by Wikipedia user DickDaniels


Glenn found a Cattle Egret at Devereaux Slough yesterday morning. I couldn’t get away to look for it yesterday, but I set the alarm for 4:30 a.m. and was there with my spotting scope as it was getting light this morning. Lots of egrets (Great and Snowy), but no Cattle.

It was still a lot of fun. I haven’t been to Devereaux in a while, and it was neat seeing some different birds. I headed down to Coal Oil Point after that, and what should appear in the lagoon near the beach but a Lesser Yellowlegs! I’d chased these a few times earlier in the year without success, so I was pretty excited about it. I got a bunch of (crappy) digiscoped photos, and Nick and Rob were kind enough to confirm the ID for me. Short, straight beak, not much longer than the width of the bird’s head; this one was the real deal, not like the Greater Yellowlegs I tried to turn into a Lesser back on April Fool’s Day.

Anyway, yay! Let the summer doldrums end and the list start ticking upward again. Come on, fall migrants! 😀


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