Big Day #bigday

Peter Gaede

S.B. Birders:

Last Friday, April 29, Wes Fritz, Marshall Iliff and I went out for a big day in the County that lasted about 22 hours. We started the day with Cackling Goose in Santa Maria, and birded Figueroa Mt., the Santa Ynez Valley, Vandenberg AFB, Lompoc, and the south coast, ending with a Virginia Rail at the Bird Refuge. We really had no huge surprises or rarities, just a nice set of breeding birds, a few migrants, and a few lingering winter visitors. Compared to last year, ducks were extremely difficult to find, and aside from the many Anna's and a fair number of Rufous/Allen's, finding hummingbirds presented a challenge. Finch numbers, on the other hand, were almost overwhelming. Goldfinches were present at what seemed like a majority of our landbird stops, and we had Lawrence's at multiple locations. On Figueroa Mountain, we recorded a fair number of Pine Siskins, including a group of 50+, and we had a Cassin's Finch there too. Our total for the day was 181 species.

A few of our highlights included:

* Red-breasted Sapsucker - a late individual at Pino Alto.
* Hermit Thrush - one singing at Pino Alto.
* Cassin's Finch - Pino Alto

* Sharp-shinned Hawk - Figueroa Mt. Rd.
* Rock Wren - Figueroa Mt. Rd.
* Purple Martin - many at Nojoqui Falls and along Alisal Rd.
* Loggerhead Shrike - Amour Ranch Rd.
* Grasshopper Sparrow - Figueroa Mt. Rd.
* Lawrence's Goldfinch - Figueroa Mt. Rd.

* Black Oystercatcher - Wall Beach
* Ruddy Turnstone - Wall Beach
* Red-breasted Nuthatch
* Sage Sparrow
* Lawrence's Goldfinch

* Northern Pintail - three at Ocean Park
* Blue Grosbeak - Sweeney Rd.

* Pigeon Guillemot - one from Vista Point off of Hwy 101
* Cooper's Hawk - female on nest at Lake Los Carneros
* Red-necked Phalarope - one at Devereux Slough
* Yellow-breasted Chat - two singing pre-dawn (1 a.m.) in Refugio Canyon near Hwy 101

Our cumulative total for 5 spring big days over the last 4 years is now at 223. A few unexpected misses seem par for the course, and this year was no exception. Three that come to mind are Belted Kingfisher, Western Screech-owl, and Cassin's Vireo.

Peter Gaede

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