Saturday, 11 January 2014

Southern California - update six

So last morning in Santa Barbara, and last day of the holiday. I was out at dawn, wanting to make the most of the time that I had left. Santa Barbara was a really decent place, with a nice vibe and loads of decent birding too. So a morning really wasn't going to do it justice but I gave it a go. Ebird sightings and the local email groups were critical, and it meant that I had a very decent morning seeing some quality, sometimes tricky species.
Grace's Warbler, Goleta 5th Jan 2014
First off was this Grace's Warbler, which I lucked out on at the abandoned golf course at Ocean Shores, Goleta as well as a female Vermilion Flycatcher (that is an annually returning bird). Loads of sparrows were skanking about the place too; just White-crowned and Songs but nice enough.
adult Thayer's Gull, Santa Barbara 5th Jan 2014
Despite the nearby temptation of a Tufted Duck, I decided to skip this decent ABA bird and headed back to downtown Santa Barbara where a 'slam dunk' (yank speak for a classic) adult Thayer's Gull was hanging about the lake at Alice Heck Park while literally a couple of hundred metres away, a Hermit Warbler was in some tipu trees by the Wells Fargo bank alongside a load of Townsend's, Yellow-rumped and Orange-crowned Warblers.
Hermit Warbler, Santa Barbara 5th Jan 2014

Townsend's Warbler, Santa Barbara 5th Jan 2014
After a spot of breakfast, and dropping Karen off for a spot of general tourist stuff, I headed down to the beach for a final papping session. Black Skimmers and Royal Terns were the non-larid stars (represented by Western, Heermann's, California and a few Mew Gulls), along with the usuals such as Bufflehead, American Coots, Willets, Marbled Godwits and Savannah Sparrows.
1st-winter Royal Tern, Santa Barbara 5th Jan 2014

Black Skimmer, Santa Barbara 5th Jan 2014
The nearby town of Carpinteria, on the way back east towards Los Angeles, has been home to California's one and only ever Grey Hawk and for anyone passing on route 101 - between junctions 87 and 88 - check the power lines and I'm sure you'll find it.

Grey Hawk, Carpinteria 3rd Jan 2014
And to round things off, the last bird I got was a Prairie Warbler - another wintering scarcity - in an area of willows on the aptly named Santa Claus Lane. And so it was back off to grey and grim London, but with an excellent holiday had and a load of good birds seen (and photographed). American birding really is excellent and generally nice and easy.

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