Changes in birding Santa Barbara style

Jim Greaves <greaves@...>

Replying to a few points raised by Paul Lehman, by way of explanation, not

1. ALL the tamarisk from Gaviota State Park were replaced a couple of years
ago (or so) with tiny little "native" shrubs and CONCRETE covers the ground
on which things like B&w Warbler fed...

The "native plant" focus of MANY local botanists (including many birders)
works at cross-purposes to some birders', habitat "restoration" possibly
resulting in deleterious effects on some native vagrant birds -- or perhaps
only on our abilities to locate them as easily as a row of tamarisks might
allow -- remember, birders create "hotspots" by returning to areas they
know have a high likelihood of "producing" what birders seek, rather than
that such birds are always (or necessarily) present in any particular
geographic location year after year! And, productivity and weather may play
a larger role in fluctuations in numbers, timing of daily forays, numbers
of birders out and about, etc -- all factor into "trend changes", and all
must somehow be accounted before concluding that birds are "in trouble" or
that there seem not to be very many searchers out and about....

2. The lerp thing accounts for the "new focus" on eucs for fall birding,
having replaced the flowering euc locations. For instance, I saw my first
"vagrant" in Santa Barbara in 1978 (other than the Pershing wormeating
warbler) in fall in a flowering eucalyptus at the entry to Devereux
road...a juv/im bay-breasted warbler. There were no lerps, but tons of

Sadly (!?) the lerp infestation has caused many eucs NOT to have any
blooms. So that may alter abilities of birders to locate rare species where
they "expect" to find them, as they scramble from lerp to lerp, and seek to
locate eucs with flowers, distracted by the lerp trees in which it is EASY
to see all the birds that infest the trees (due to the leaf losses). When
were we ever able to see THROUGH a eucalyptus to the backside to count
warblers and see every single oriole at one time!? Could this be a disaster
for wintering birds? Perhaps not if we can see them so easily!

3. The mitigation site along At Ck is weekly checked by Joan and Kathleen.
The latter conducts bird banding project there weekly as well. It sux for
migrants THIS fall, compared to downstream of Patterson bridge. Bobolink
"bloom" last week (?) when several were reported, same location where they
always seem to be west of Patterson and north of At Ck.

4. North County birding. Has shifted to the "responsibility" of Lompoc and
other NC birders. Cost of fuel prevents MANY of us the luxury of daily trek
to such places as Gaviota (remember 32 cent per gallon?) -- that said,
still there are folks finding new birds at El Cap and other south coastal
"hot spots" (keeping with Paul's definition).

5. In a sense "resource" change might better reflect what we face, rather
than "habitat" alterations per se -- some resources have IMPROVED since
1979 -- are lerps in eucs an "improvement" -- depends on whether or not you
are a butterfly lover... Resources which limit our ability (financially) to
play have actually degraded significantly, affecting both when and how far
afield we may wander; unless one is independently wealthy, or living well
in retirement, it no longer possible to "volunteer" to monitor Least vireos
for the forest service, for instance -- those of us who are anal about that
particular species have had move our focus to areas where [ironically]
development pressures are such as to allow us to both monitor the species
and make a decent part of our incomes...

6. Some of the places that were once good no longer "exist" -- one of two
burrowing owls brought to the wildlife care people this month came from
INSIDE Office Mart (the new box store area south of Hollister, west of
Storke near the Storke Fire Station) which sits atop a spot that, 20 years
ago, had a grassy area in which a burrowing owl hunted peacefully from a

Bon burds