Biggish day by bike

Hugh Ranson

Yesterday, April 18th, for the third year in a row, I spent the day birding by foot and bike to see how many species it's possible to see in a day. A bigger reason is that it's a lot of fun and relatively guilt free. In 2018 I chose May 2nd and saw 130 species, whilst last year I saw 116 on April 30th. The earlier date this year meant I could take advantage of the big migrant push through the county, and also see wintering birds before they departed. This year's total was 134.

I birded from 7 a.m. till 5 p.m., starting at my Westside home. I biked to Lake Los Carneros, stopping at a few point along the way, then hit Bella Vista Open Space (Barn Owl) before a largely unsuccessful look for hummingbirds in Winchester Canyon. I spent a good chunk of time at Farren Road which brought me a number of species I wouldn't see elsewhere: Blue Grosbeak (a male at the first hill), Lazuli Bunting, Phainopepla, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Lark Sparrow (several), Raven, and Ring-necked Ducks on the reservoir.

After Farren Road, I cycled through Ellwood, where there were fairly good number of migrants, before passing through NCOS. Here I saw the only Cinnamon and Blue-winged Teal of the day, along with a Clark's Grebe and Lesser Yellowlegs. Devereux Slough had very few birds, but the surrounding bushes and trees, especially by the first pull-out, held many migrants, including Black-chinned Hummingbirds in good numbers. Coil Oil Point and Devereux Beach added the expected species. Campus Lagoon was pretty quiet (one Bufflehead remained), but Campus Point was productive with all three loons, Brant, and Surf Scoter all moving past. On the rocks were Surfbirds, Black Turnstones, and a lone Wandering tattler. Here I saw my only tern of the day, a Royal.

I checked Area K at UCSB, adding a few ducks, before heading to Goleta Beach. From there, legs quite weary, I followed the bike path home, stopping now and again, and adding Peregrine along the way.

Some highlights: hundreds of Vaux's Swifts feeding over Modoc Open Space; a Canyon Wren singing along Cathedral Oaks in Winchester canyon; excellent numbers of Nashville Warblers, 20 + along the coastal strip (though none north of the 101); seeing both crowned sparrows at LLC (I though I might miss them); 3 American Kestrels--I missed them last year. All in all, a great way to spend a Saturday.

Hugh Ranson
Santa Barbara

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