Tecolote Creek and Haskell's

Rebecca Coulter

This morning I wandered out to Tecolote Creek (I think that its name?) and Haskell’s Beach next to the Bacara/Four Seasons. The sage scrub and riparian corridor there are deep and in good shape, though fairly heavily trimmed along the paths. What used to be considered minor trespassing to cross the footbridge toward the resort is now unrestricted and almost welcoming, with interpretive signage along the way about the Chumash uses of the native plants. I spent quite a bit of time on the bridge peering down into the creek—still running—and into the dense willows and sycamores. Nothing unexpected but a couple of things interested me: a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher calling repeatedly in the sage scrub just west of the bridge, and a pair of Wilson’s Warblers foraging together in the willows over the creek. All these birds might be passing through, but it seems to be getting late for both species and I wondered about possible breeding. There were at least 4-5 Black-headed Grosbeaks, both males and females, singing loudly. One of the coolest sightings was an apparent nest cavity of Nuttall’s Woodpecker in an agave bloom stalk next to the parking lot. The young bird stuck his head out of the hole and called constantly; two adults foraged in the red-blooming eucalyptus nearby, feeding at the flowers, something I’ve never seen before.

The beach itself was quiet, no shorebirds at all and one lonely California Gull. The “bird islands” offshore are full of presumed Brandt’s Cormorants nesting, but without a scope I couldn’t confirm.

Rebecca Coulter