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Big Day Record
Santa Barbara County Big Day Report
By Peter Gaede
Yesterday, [April 25, 2008] Mark Billings, Wes Fritz and I went on a birding adventure around the county to record as many
species as possible in a 24-hour period, beginning at midnight on 25 April. We followed standard ABA rules - see:
This year, we decided to begin the route in the Cuyama Valley. In order to have a run at beating the current record (190
species, 4/27/07, Ranson/Storrer/Gaede) we had to do some creative thinking as far as locations go, and starting here at
night was the first part of the plan. I think it payed off in the long run, and we were able to add some quality birds such as
Burrowing Owl, Long-eared Owl and Lesser Nighthawk. We unexpectedly found the nighthawks by call -- a series of long
rapid trills --in Ballinger Canyon. Not getting the easier to find owls and rails meant of course that we were committed to
going out that night again, so at this point, it was just a trade-off.
We experienced very strong winds early morning on top of Figueroa Mountain, and
were forced to bird the sheltered areas at slightly lower elevations. As it turns out,
the birds favored these conditions as well, and we found most of our target species.
We missed several of Hugh's birds (Cassin's Finch, Olive-sided Flycatcher, and
Ruby-crowned Kinglet), but we did find the Clark's Nutcracker near the entrance to
Fig Mtn. Campground, as well as 5 Red Crossbills, 10 Pine Siskins, ~10 Hermit
Warblers, a MacGillivray's Warbler and a different Hammond's Flycatcher on the
south side of the mountain.
The remainder of the day was a race to visit stops between Santa Barbara and Lompoc before dark, and we wound up with an
odd assortment of additions and misses. A few highlights included an adult Bald Eagle flying over Santa Ynez, 45 Caspian
Terns at the Santa Ynez River Estuary (a rather high count), a Short-billed Gull and 2 cont. WF Ibis at the Goleta Sanitation
Plant, 2 Lewis's Woodpecker's on Farren Rd., a Say's Phoebe in Isla Vista that has successfully fledged young, all eleven of the
expected western warbler species, and a group of 5 lingering Golden-crowned Sparrows off of Paradise Road. Misses
included Heermann's Gull, Royal Tern, Forster's Tern, Vaux's Swift, Swainson's Thrush, Tricolored Blackbird and Lawrence's
We ended our day at the S.B. Harbor, where we picked up a nice assortment of rocky shorebirds (Black Turnstone, Surfbird
and Wandering Tattler) and Long-billed Curlew to tie last year's record. The final bird before dark turned out to be the go-
ahead bird (191) - the Long-tailed Duck, still present since being seen off and on this past winter!
Our big day ended after 23 hours and 48 minutes of birding, and our final tally after finding Spotted and Saw-whet Owl last
night put us at 193.
Big Day Reports
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