Topics

SBI and SCI birds and pelagics

Nick Lethaby
 

All,

Thanks to the generosity of Cuyler Stapelmann's dad, Frank, we were able to visit Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz Islands from Friday through Monday. Since Frank's yacht is  significantly slower than the Island Packers boats, we spent a lot of time at sea. The pelagic birding was very poor with almost nothing seen.

We arrived at SBI at 17.00 on Friday and were able to see some birds on the island, but spent all of Saturday either birding the island or visiting Sutil Rock to check the boobies there. On SBI itself, birds of interest were a Redstart, single Magnolia and Nashville Warblers, Lapland Longspur, Clay-colored, Brewer's, Chipping, Song, and Vesper Sparrows, 13 Burrowing and 2 Long-eared Owls, Merlin, Sharp-shinned Hawk, and Acorn Woodpecker. A White-faced Ibis was flying around just offshore. Sutil had the usual Brown (50), Blue-footed (1), and Masked/Nazca (two adults) Boobies, all showing well.

When the the forecast marine layer did not materialize the next morning, we decided to head up to SCI and spend the morning and early afternoon pelagic birding. This was probably a bad mistake as it became apparent there was a marine layer further north around SCI, Anacapa, and the mainland that got some birds offshore. Also the pelagic birding was deadly dull. Fortunately we struck gold while still moored off SBI when Cuyler picked up an incoming passerine heading into the island. Luckily it was calling and had a distinctive long-tailed silhouette - a White Wagtail! We motored into the landing cove but saw no evidence the bird had stopped there.

In the afternoon, we went ashore at Smuggler's Cove on SCI, getting pretty wet during the landing. Birds there included a White-winged Dove, a Merlin, and a Red-breasted Sapsucker. The next day we opted for a dry shore landing by visiting Prisoner's Harbor with its nice floating dock and pier. The highlight here was a Dickscissel with nice back-up being a Pacific Wren and yet another Merlin.

The crossing to SB harbor was pretty quiet with a few Black-vents, a Pinkfoot, and a couple of jaegers.

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Nick Lethaby
Goleta, CA

Mobile: 805 284 6200
Work: 805 562 5106

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Nick Lethaby
Goleta, CA