20 Nov 2014

20 Nov 14 - Coastal California

On the way home from the Pitcairn & French Polynesia trip, I decided I might as well have a couple of days Birding in California rather than race home. I've visited California twice in the past. The first trip was in Nov 1995 when I had nearly three weeks to travel around the state which included a half day over the border into Oregon state. The second visit was a day stop over at the end of my second trip to Mexico in Mar 02. On these trips, I had managed to see a good selection of the late autumn & winter species. However, there were a few species I missed that I was keen to have another look for. One species was Grey Whale, but again I was visiting too early for their Southerly migration. Another option was to look for Island Scrub Jay. The isolated population of Scrub Jay that occurred on the Californian Channel Islands wasn't split on either visit & hence I didn't consider trying to fit a visit to the Channel Islands into my tight itineraries. The alternative options were to look for California Condor or to revisit Monterey Bay in the hope of some Seabirds or Cetaceans. After looking at options, I decided to limit the driving to the Channel Islands & then try & fit some general Birding in around that option. It was early afternoon before I cleared customs, picked up the hired car & was leaving from Los Angeles airport on my two day trip. The plan was to find a hotel in Ventura & stop at suitable spots along the coastal highway. The first interesting looking stop was at Hobson Beach Park. This is a small stretch of coastline next to the coastal highway with a couple of car parks next to a few houses. It didn't look that special, but it was a good place to break the journey for thirty minutes. The tide was out & there were a few species to photograph on the beach.
Grey Plover: Good to start with a familiar face on a foreign shoreline
Whimbrel: This is the hudsonicus subspecies also known as Hudsonian Whimbrel
Marbled Godwit: This is the beringiae subspecies which winters on the Pacific coast of the US
Sanderling: Another familiar face from home
Ring-billed Gull: Adult
California Ground Squirrel
California Ground Squirrel
The next stop was Andree Clark Bird Refuge which is a small lake in an urban part of Santa Barbara. This was a small lake with a narrow scrubby edge.
The Andree Clark Bird Refuge
A view of the lake at the Andree Clark Bird Refuge
American Coot
Least Sandpiper
Heermann's Gull: A really cracking Gull
Anna's Hummingbird: This common local resident looks quite dull at this angle
Anna's Hummingbird: Turning its head & suddenly the reflected light makes the facial mask a lot brighter
Anna's Hummingbird: Another turn of the head & the forehead starts to glow
Say's Phoebe
California Towhee
California Towhee
House Finch: Male
House Finch: Female
There was still another couple of hours before it got dark, so I headed on for the Santa Barbara coastline to find a few viewpoints over the ocean.
Brown Pelican
American Herring Gull: Adult. This is the smithsonianus subspecies which is also known as American Herring Gull which Clements still regards as a subspecies of Herring Gull
Western Gull: Adult
Sunset: For the second night there was a cracking sunset: It was time to go looking for a motel & some food as I had an early start the following morning & I hadn't slept well on the plane