Big Day #bigday
S.B. Birders -
Wes Fritz and I did our third annual Santa Barbara County spring Big Day
yesterday (5/1), and this year we were joined by Jeff Davis and Marshall
Iliff. It was a long and exciting day, beginning at midnight and ending at
10 pm, and we found a grand total of 187 species. Overall numbers of
migrants were low just about everywhere, but we managed to find almost all
of the breeding birds along our route. We also had several lingering birds
staked out from the past several weeks, and as with most Big Day's, a few
We began at midnight under an almost full moon and clear skies, and had 23
species before dawn. The quality of the nocturnal birds found was an
encouraging way to begin the daylight hours and included birds like Clapper
rail, Least bittern, Spotted owl, and N. Saw-whet owl. It was a nice
surprise to find a N. Saw-whet owl calling from the exact same location as
last year in lower elevation oak woodland, .5 miles past the ranger station
on Paradise Road.
The upper elevation portion of our route at the top of Figueroa Mountain was
somewhat uneventful but produced small numbers of target birds found no
where else on our route - Hermit warbler, Brown creeper, Mountain chickadee,
Olive-sided flycatcher, etc.
Scouting at the mid-elevations/Santa Ynez Valley by Wes paid off as we made
our way down the mountain and stopped at locations where there were nesting
Loggerhead shrikes (Armour Ranch Rd.); Lawrence's goldfinches, Grasshopper
sparrows and Rock wrens (Figueroa Mtn. Rd.). We found the continuing
Red-necked Grebe at the west end of Lake Cachuma and also added a Horned
Grebe here, decked out in full breeding plumage.
Birding at coastal locations produced a few unexpected birds. One of our
most interesting was an ibis at Ocean Beach showing charactoristics of both
Glossy and White-faced, and which we consider to be a probable Glossy x
White-faced hybrid. The bird was seen in the marsh vegetation on the right
before entering the parking area. Lingering ducks that we found were
American wigeon-1 (Devereux Slough); Northern pintail-1 (Ocean Beach);
Blue-winged teal-8 (Ocean Beach); Redhead-2 (Sandpiper Golf Course);
Ring-necked duck-1; Lesser scaup-1; Long-tailed duck-1 (S.B. Harbor);
Bufflehead-8 at three locations; and Red-breasted merganser-3. A few other
noteworthy odds and ends were a Franklin's Gull that flew past the S.B.
Harbor jetty, a Least Tern at Ocean Beach, and the pair of Ross's Geese at
Rancho Goleta. The White-faced ibis that Dave Compton mentioned seeing fly
out of basin E-F in a earlier post was undoutably the same bird that we saw
fly into Area K. Our biggest misses were probably Vaux's swift, Nashville
warbler, Black turnstone and Common poorwill.