SB Co. Big Day birds #bigday

Dave Compton <davcompton@...>

Mark Holmgren, Grant Weyburne, Brad Hines, and I did a Big Day in Santa
Barbara County today and here are some of the highlights from the 158
species we tallied.

Refugio State Beach campground: one LUCY'S WARBLER, two BLACKPOLL WARBLERS
(neither, I think, was the extensively yellow and faintly streaked bird that
was there a few days ago), and one VIRGINIA'S WARBLER. These sightings
occasioned some discussion about whether any of these were among those birds
seen about two and a half weeks ago, when all three of these species first
turned up.

Devereux Slough: one SOLITARY SANDPIPER near the north end of the slough.

Figueroa Mountain: one WHITE-HEADED WOODPECKER was seen opposite the
entrance to Pino Alto picnic area. The bird flew down the road (east) and
was never seen again.

Figueroa Mountain Road: three LEWIS'S WOODPECKERS were at three different
locations--near the entrance to the Neverland Ranch (across the road from
the main entrance to Midland School), and two different locations between
about 10.5 and 11.6 miles (Mark had the mile markers written down

Sam Marcos Foothills: one GRASSHOPPER SPARROW was in a small arroyo about
100 meters nnw from the north end of Via Gaitero, with a flock of Chipping

Lake Cachuma, east end, overlook from 154: one BLUE-WINGED TEAL male in
eclipse plumage.

Rare birds we MISSED included Prairie and Blackpoll Warbler at Lake Los
Carneros, Franklin's Gull and Tropical Kingbird at Refugio State Beach, and
Eastern Kingbird at Devereux.

For anyone interested only in rare birds, you can stop reading here. If
you're curious about other aspects of our big day, read on.

We began birding at the SB harbor around 6:15 and finished owling about 9pm
(with a dinner break just before out last stop). Our route was as follows:

SB Harbor
Garden St./Mission Creek outfalls
Bird Refuge
Atascadero Creek near San Marcos Rd.
a private property spot in south Goleta
Lake Los Carneros
Devereux Slough
San Marcos Foothills (off Via Gaitero near the bottom of 154)
Kinevan Rd.
Cachuma East end
Figueroa Mtn. Rd.
Pino Alto picnic area
Becky Hoban's feeder in Lompoc (the only American Goldfinches of the
day--thanks, Becky!)
Ocean Park
Limbeck (sp?) Rd (quick Horned Lark spot west of Lompoc)
Miguelito Park
Sweeney Rd at about the 1.6 mark
Refugio State Beach
Devereux Slough (again)
Lake Los Carneros (return for Barn Owl)
private property stop off West Camino Cielo for Western-Screech Owl

The Santa Maria area, of course, has some great places, but it's far from
those most in our group know best, and on Sunday we would've been waiting at
the gate to the Santa Maria River mouth for 40 minutes just waiting to get
in. Also, the Vandenberg ponds, which I think is the best fall birding
location in the county, is time-consuming and not practical on a big day.
Lake Los Carneros, which is a little more time-efficient, was probably the
site that delivered the greatest variety of birds, and we spent the most
time there--a little over an hour.

The most embarrassing misses were Herring Gull, Bonaparte's Gull (where are
they?), California Quail, Black-headed Grosbeak, and Cassin's Kingbird.
Although four different kingbird species were sighted at places we visited
within the week, we had only one sighting of a kingbird, a flyover Western
seen by only two of our group. The only empid we got was a bird not
identified to species and seen by only three of our group. We also missed
Hermit Thrush, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Lark Sparrow, anything resembling a
pelagic bird, BN Stilt, American Avocet, Canyon Wren, and Rock Wren.

Other nice birds we DID see were Great-Horned Owl, Barn Owl, Western
Screech-Owl, Olive-sided Flycatcher (a late bird at Pino Alto), Phainopepla,
Red-breasted Sapsucker (Lake Los Carneros), and Golden Eagle (Pino Alto). Of
the 158 species, 151 were recorded by all four participants. Five species
were recorded by three of us, two species were recorded by only two
participants. Somehow, Brad Hines managed to see or hear all 158 species.

That's all that comes to my addled mind at this late hour of a very long
day. Time to sign off and get some sleep. Good night.

Dave Compton

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