Willows Anchorage (Santa Cruz Island) trip with Island Packers on Saturday, May 11

John Callender

I had a lot of fun going on the Island Packers trip to Willows Anchorage on the south side of Santa Cruz Island yesterday. This was a trip Island Packers has only done a few times so far, in which they ferry passengers to the beach using inflatables and give a naturalist-led walk on the island. Noteworthy things from a bird standpoint:

* On the trip over I observed and photographed a family group of six Common Murres (two adults and four smaller offspring) just north of Anacapa Passage at roughly (34.097831, -119.467209). I originally reported them as being in Ventura County, but after checking I believe they were across the line in Santa Barbara County. I'm not sure if this counts as evidence of local breeding; Lehman's BOSBC describes them as rare to very rare on the South Coast in summer, with the nearest known breeding colony in Monterey County, but he also mentions that chicks have been known to travel large distances with their parents. Maybe this group traveled to where I saw them from somewhere further north? I'd be interested in hearing people's perspective on that. Photos in this eBird list:


* An adult Bald Eagle was visible soaring above the ridge northeast of the anchorage as we arrived at Willows Anchorage. Later I was able to hike about a mile up the canyon, which had flowing water for most of that distance. There were a large number of Spotted Towhees, as well as smaller numbers of Wilson's, Yellow, and Orange-crowned Warblers, singing along the creek. I heard a vocalization in the riparian area that I didn't recognize; it consisted of a repeated series of three fairly musical, medium-pitch, down-slurred notes. I wasn't able to see the singer, but I made a recording that is in the eBird list below; again, I'd be very interested if anyone is willing to offer feedback on it:


* On the boat ride back we passed a large flock of Sooty Shearwaters that I estimated at 600 birds. It was in the southwest part of Anacapa Passage at roughly (34.006482, -119.523860). We didn't linger, and at high speed I wasn't able to spot any other shearwater species mixed in with them. This technically wasn't a birding-focused trip, and it turns out that for a pelagic-birding novice like me sifting quickly through lots of shearwaters without the benefit of expert help is hard. :-)  Some photos in the following eBird list:


* Later on the way back we had nice views of a blue whale. We were in Ventura County waters at the time, but we followed the whale as it headed west such that we briefly re-entered Santa Barbara County before we turned away and headed back toward Ventura. Whale photos here:


All my eBird lists from the day (including the Ventura County portions) are below.

* Ventura Harbor and departure: 
* E. Santa Barbara Channel (Ventura County): https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56159411
* Anacapa Passage (Santa Barbara County) to Scorpion Harbor, including the Common Murre family group: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56159431
* Scorpion Harbor: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56159452
* Anacapa Passage (Santa Barbara County): https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56159468
* Motoring west along the south side of Santa Cruz Island: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56159488
* Willows Anchorage: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56159581
* Return leg 1, to the beginning of Anacapa Passage: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56159593
* Return leg 2, Anacapa Passage (including Sooty Shearwaters): https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56159622
* Return leg 3, Ventura County waters: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56159808
* Return leg 4, brief backtrack into Santa Barbara County waters while whale-watching: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56161697
* Return leg 5, Ventura Harbor breakwater: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56159821


John Callender

Join main@sbcobirding.groups.io to automatically receive all group messages.