Monday, July 8, 2013

Coastal California- Day 1!

White-tailed Kite
My friend Kevin Welsh and I just got back from coastal California. I had a rare four day weekend and Kevin just finished his field job, so on June 27th after work we departed for Los Angeles. On the 28th, we woke up after only a few hours of sleep and headed straight for Bonelli Regional Park in Los Angeles where an Arctic Loon has been hanging out for over a month. It took us a minute to find it as it was tucked back in a cove with a bunch of Western Grebes, but once we did, it showed very well.

Arctic Loon
We decided to keep birding Los Angeles (our original plan was to bird Santa Barbara) so we chose Carbon Canyon Park as our next location. A somewhat recent report of California Gnatcatcher was enticing enough, and even though we had no idea where to go once we got into the park, we did very well. Wrentits were abundant and vocal.

California Thrashers were looking very ratty, but at least they were around. These were my first this year.

California Thrasher
While watching the Thrashers, Kevin and I couldn’t believe our ears when we heard a California Gnatcatcher calling nearby. A little investigating revealed this not-so-shy Gnatcatcher. This was great luck as I was expecting we would have to work harder and check more locations to find this bird.

California Gnatcatcher
After leaving the park, we checked a few locations for Band-tailed Pigeons and Red-crowned Parrots but we struck out. We did pick up Hutton’s Vireo, though, so it wasn’t all a bust.

Hutton's Vireo
It was about this time that we were getting pretty tired of the Los Angeles traffic, and Los Angeles in general. I would compare it to birding in Miami looking for exotics which I just do not enjoy at all. However, we still had one more target in Los Angeles before we could leave; Spotted Dove.

The Spotted Dove is becoming harder and harder to find in California as their population continues to decrease. However, Newell Street in Huntington Park, Los Angeles is supposed to be a good spot to find them. As we battled stop and go (mostly stop) traffic, we drove further and further into the ghetto. When we got to the street, things were getting pretty shady and it didn’t seem like getting out of the car was a good idea. Luckily, a Spotted Dove was wandering around a front yard. It then flew into a tree where I quickly photographed it and got the heck out of there.

Spotted Dove
We started heading for Santa Barbara but with the never ending traffic, it took us hours to get there. We had set a time to meet a local birder, Noah Gaines (, at his house in Santa Barbara, and we somehow managed to arrive right on time. I had contacted Noah after seeing his post about a Costa’s Hummingbird coming to his feeder, a bird I just couldn’t seem to find this year. He graciously opened his place to us. We had an amazing time watching his two hummingbird feeders that had an insane amount of hummingbird activity. Anna’s Hummingbirds were everywhere, zipping in and out. Black-chinned Hummingbirds were also around, but less abundant. Finally, the Costa’s appeared briefly. Score!

Costa's Hummingbird
Allen’s Hummingbirds are also common in coastal California in the summer. Rufous Hummingbirds only occur here in migration. I took a few photos of a male Allen’s at Noah’s house, but had hoped to get better photos later. It never happened, so this will have to do for now.

Allen's Hummingbird
It was getting late, and Kevin and I had a boat to catch in the morning in Ventura, so we drove back that way and found a place to camp. This was a very productive day and a great way to start the trip. The next morning we were to go out with Island Packers to Santa Cruz Island, which turned out to be even better than we could have hoped!

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