Santa Cruz Island

Hugh Ranson

I spent yesterday (9/26) at Scorpion Valley on Santa Cruz Island (I would love to have been out there today with this high overcast). I had a good time despite low numbers of migrants. Best birds were a Bobolink and a Blackpoll, both of which were near the fruiting fig trees in the lower campground. It was novel to see the Bobolink feeding on the ground with the Song and White-crowned Sparrows rather than teed up in grasses or corn. Photos of the Bobolink here:

Other birds included Vesper Sparrow, Western Wood-pewee, 2 Black-headed Grosbeaks, 3-4 Red-breasted Nuthatches, 3 Western Tanagers, and a Yellow Warbler. There is a very cooperative SCI Loggerhead Shrike in the ranch house yard that you can walk right up to. I've been going out to Scorpion in the fall now for several years, and this is the first time I've seen no spizellas or empids.

A birder I met on the boat went on to Prisoners, so it was good to compare notes on the return journey. He saw even fewer migrants and nothing of real note. Of interest was that he saw 4 Island Scrub-Jays, his target bird. At Scorpion I lost track of how many Jay sighting I had--they were seemingly all over the place. I have a photo with 5 in one frame. Employees at the concession confirmed that the Jay population at Scorpion has exploded in the last year. Even just a few years ago Jays were hard to find at this location. It might be that those looking for the Jay consider making Scorpion their destination now that it is a reliable location; there are generally more birds to see there of other species, and there are more hiking options if the birding is slow.

Having said all that, Island Packers will be stopping its service to Scorpion on November 1st whilst the pier is rebuilt. The job is hoped to beĀ  finished within 4 months (we'll see!).

Not too much to report from the passage. A score or two of Black-vented Shearwaters, a Pink-footed, 30 or so Red-necked Phalaropes. No alcids.

Hugh Ranson
Santa Barbara

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