Santa Maria


Wes Fritz
 

SB Birders,
I have been getting some birding in here and there, but mostly speed birding.

Today I started at Mud Lake in Orcutt, not much to report. Just baby ducks, grebes and Coots. This place has awesome potential and is always worth a drive by. One note about this location is that it is fenced and all your birding must be done over the 5 foot high fence, not a problem, it’s dog-less!!!
I then had to go up to SLO for a few hours, but did stop by a beach just north of Dinosaur Caves Park/ Margo Dodd Park, and the latter mentioned parks. In just a few minutes I counted 345 Heermann’s Gulls with white and gray heads and a fair number of 2nd cycle birds. Also of note or point, the Western Gulls are totally going off with a bunch of baby Gulls. Some feathered and some very young still in downy feathers. They are doing exceptionally well this year, which completely confuses me about Bernardo Alps statement and Ken H. echoing about the Gull nesting situation on Santa Barbara Island. I am assuming Bernardo has been on the island during nesting season many times in the past to post this statement? Anyway, the Brandt’s and Pelagic Cormorants are doing very well. I am not so sure about the Pigeon Guillemots. The numbers seem to be waning over the years, possibly too much kayak traffic. This location is awesome for photographing our local cliff nesting seabirds. I bird this location numerous times a year.( I apologize it is in SLO, not SBA)
I also made a stop by the Santa Maria Sewage works and saw 6 Cinnamon Teal ducklings nearly completely feathered. The two drake Cinnamon Teal we’re still courting the three hens with bobbing their heads and following the females, so they may be attempting a second brood. Also seen was 3 Greater Yellowlegs, 5 Wilson’s Phalaropes, and 31 Western Sandpipers and a bunch of baby ducks, Killdeer, BN Stilts, Song Sparrows.
I then checked out Jack O’Connell Park, but the dogs were having a great time running wild, no birds.
I made my way over to SMRE, which is getting very full and should blow out in a couple weeks. Here I saw 8 Least Terns over the main lagoon and two were foraging up the estuary next to the road, it was pretty cool. Also of note was a female Harrier hunting around the estuary. I did not count the gulls, it was very windy with sand hitting my car that sounded like rain. All the expected birds present and were viewed from the windshield. I checked out 3 Tricolored Blackbirds colonies on my way home. Only one was still active with some Juveniles posted up for their parent to bring some food. While watching this I saw a Ruddy Duck with 8 freshly hatched ducklings and 3 baby Pied-billed Grebes tussling over a large crayfish and then about 20 Trikes came flying in and dropping directly into their nests while the other juvs across the farm pond were still waiting for their food delivery.
On a less happy note, I counted 11 Road kill Barn owls on the north bound 101 between Goleta and Santa Maria. A few weeks ago I counted 17 Road kill Barn Owls. I know this is kinda sad, but this means we had a great year for successful nesting Barn Owls and I hope only a small percent have been struck by cars. A few years ago during our drought the Barn Owl fatalities were much lower. I am guessing many of these owls are young and are dispersing from other nesting localities and some are from our local nesting boxes along the freeway.

Happy 4th and good birding.

Wes Fritz
805 895 0685
wes-fritz@...
Solvang CA

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