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sbcoBIRDING Santa Barbara County Birding

Paul Lehman  400 CLUB

TOTAL: 463


PAUL’S COMMENTS: Read all of Paul’s comments here >>




Brad Schram  400 CLUB

TOTAL: 457     400th BIRD: SPOTTED REDSHANK


BRAD’S COMMENTS: Finding the first county Roseate Spoonbills at Goleta Slough in July 1973 was a definite rush! My (then) four year old daughter pointing out an adult California Condor overhead as we drove hwy. 101 at State St. the day before the 73 CBC is a fond memory. The 78 fall juxtaposition of a White Wagtail on Devereux Slough with a Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher at Old Married Student Housing nearby is memorable. Birding with Paul Lehman and Louis Bevier on 16 September 1984 when Paul spotted a Little Curlew is an all-time birding highlight-- a first hemisphere record! After years of searching in north county, finding a flock of Pinyon Jays at Dry Canyon in the fall of 2000 became a favorite memory. I suppose that finding Carpinteria Creek as a birding venue in 1977 is my most significant contribution to county birding in that it has proved to be one of the county’s most productive vagrant traps. I should note that untold hours in the field with so many of Santa Barbara County’s birders have enriched my life in a way that list check marks never could.




Hugh Ranson  400 CLUB

TOTAL: 450     400th BIRD: CURLEW SANDPIPER


HUGH’S COMMENTS: Since becoming a father twelve years ago, a county list and yard list are the only ones I keep. I’ve been birding in the county since 1981. I’ve been lucky enough to find three firsts for the county: Yellow-throated Vireo, Brown-crested Flycatcher, and Zone-tailed Hawk. I misidentified the (silent) flycatcher as a Great Crested, which I still need for the county. Paul Lehman and Jon Dunn later corrected my error-- I wasn’t too displeased. Other rare birds I’ve found include Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Ruff, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Yellow-green Vireo, Grace’s Warbler, Pine Warbler and Painted Bunting. One of my favorite day’s birding was aboard the Condor Express in September ’02. On that magical day we saw Black-footed and Laysan Albatross, all the jaegers, Craveri’s Murrelet, Red-billed Tropicbird, and Wilson’s Storm-Petrel. I fantasize about finding a Siberian bird, such as Rustic Bunting… My contribution to Santa Barbara birding? My most valuable, I guess, would be turning elementary students on to birding.




Joan Lentz  400 CLUB

TOTAL: 445


JOAN’S COMMENTS: (excerpted)... Growing up in Santa Barbara, you feel the presence of nature everywhere. But I was always interested in birds above all else. By 1980, the bug finally bit. My passion for birding led me to explore the Cuyama Valley, the agricultural fields west of Santa Maria, the Antelope Valley, the Santa Clara River estuary, the San Rafael Mountains, and all sorts of places I would never otherwise have come to know. I learned about gulls, shorebirds, and fall warblers. I saw Red-necked Stint, Great-crested and Brown-crested Flycatchers, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and most of the vagrant warblers. My favorite birding story of all time is one that many of us—Paul Lehman, Brad Schram, Karen Bridgers, and myself—have written about elsewhere. That was September 16, 1994, when Karen and I chased a Little Curlew. That day, we drove all the way to Santa Maria Valley, only to find a large group of disconsolate birders who had been unable to find the bird. Luckily, as Karen and I went exploring the valley on our own, a helpful farmer offered to drive us to one of his fields where he claimed a large flock of curlews was gathered. There among them was a smaller bird with a straighter bill—Little Curlew. Read all of Joan’s comments here >>




Paul Keller  400 CLUB

TOTAL: 436     400th BIRD: VERDIN


PAUL’S COMMENTS: I am missing Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel. I was on the boat but I missed it. Kentucky Warbler is overdue. I count Manx Shearwater but this bird was rejected by the CBRC. I would like to find Shy Albatross someday. My personal contribution to birding in Santa Barbara County is serving as Santa Barbara Audubon Society field trip chair for nine years.




Guy Tingos  400 CLUB

TOTAL: 437     400th BIRD: CURLEW SANDPIPER


GUY’S COMMENTS: I’m especially proud of my total since it only includes one pelagic trip. If I didn’t get deathly seasick, I’d really kick butt! My best find was being part of the group that found the county’s first Eastern Wood-Pewee.




Dave Compton  400 CLUB

TOTAL: 435    400th BIRD: CONNECTICUT WARBLER


DAVE’S COMMENTS: Great Crested Flycatcher, a female Broad-tailed Hummingbird, mainland American Oystercatcher, Common Nighthawk, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Philadelphia Vireo, and three Yellow-green Vireos are among my best finds, but I have come up woefully short at finding first county records. My biggest jinx has to be Least Storm-Petrel, which I don't have because I don't count birds I've seen only in the waters of the Santa Barbara Island donut hole (I have no problem counting birds from the island, but I've never been there). I also don't have Murphy's Petrel, since it occurs on exactly the spring deepwater pelagics that I DON'T go on. While at this point, I'd like to add anything to the county list, I really wouldn't mind finding a Red-faced Warbler or a Cerulean Warbler. Of course, I really think we need to add Thick-billed Kingbird, Lesser Black-backed Gull, and Slaty-backed Gull to the county list, so I'd take to the hit for one of those.




Cher Hollingworth  400 CLUB

TOTAL: 425    400th BIRD: DUSKY WARBLER


CHER'S COMMENTS: I've been birding since 6th grade, but I've set 1982 as an official "started keeping lists" date.  My birding has had long, slow periods due to pregnancies and kids (you guys have it SO easy).  I have so many favorite SB Co birds, especially seabirds.  At the moment, the best is the 2005 Baikal Teal that Wes Fritz found.  I'd arranged the trip, but was unable to lead it because of an out-of-state funeral.  The first thing that I did, when I got off the plane, was to drive to the sewage plant before it closed.  I really enjoyed watching the teal blink with yellow eyelids... books don't show that. My 400th Santa Barbara County bird was the 2007 Dusky Warbler, a good "milestone bird." The 2000 Louisiana Waterthrush was another great bird;  I was with Brad Hines when he photographed that bird.  Other favorites at the moment, in a continually changing list, are Barrow's Goldeneye, Laysan Albatross, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, Brown Booby, Tufted Puffin, Manx Shearwater and Yellow-green Vireo.  My best find is probably an American Oystercatcher.  The worst miss has to be Curlew Sandpiper; it went onto private property, so I didn't follow it.  I'm hoping to find a Short-tailed Albatross in the right county.




Jon Dunn  400 CLUB

TOTAL: 417




Curtis Marantz  400 CLUB

TOTAL: 415 (NIB)    400th BIRD: WHITE WAGTAIL


CURTIS’S COMMENTS: Little Curlew is probably my best bird in the county, probably followed by White Ibis, Spotted Redshank, and Verdin, but not sure about the order of these...




Nancy States  400 CLUB

TOTAL: 414


NANCY’S COMMENTS: I  have been birding for over 40 years, many years on the East coast and for all the years I have finally been living in Santa Barbara. I think one of my favorite sightings was the Yellow-breasted Chat in my yard one spring. I am fond of that bird and to have it visit was thrilling. Also the Calliope Humming bird that perched on top of the fountain one morning. That was fun. I hope to add to that this year and years to come. There are so many good places to bird in this area. I feel fortunate to be living here.




Joan Hardie  400 CLUB

TOTAL: 411    400th BIRD: YELLOW-GREEN VIREO


JOAN’S COMMENTS: Best find was Eastern Wood-Pewee (first county record), which Guy Tingos and I found near Big Pine, June 15, 1994. Nagging misses, and there are many, include Frigatebird and Ovenbird. The bird I would like to add to the list is Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. Although I tried to see the really rare sightings, I didn’t concentrate on my county list until the year of the [Big Year] “competition”. That was the year I became obsessed. I saw areas of Santa Barbara previously unknown to me. During one 10-day period I drove to San Miguelito Park in Lompoc 9 times (I never did see the Louisiana Waterthrush). I took 6 boat trips! When it was all over I had seen 337 species and had added 28 birds to my county list.




Ken Hollinga  400 CLUB

TOTAL: 410   400th BIRD: McCOWN’S LONGSPUR


KEN’S COMMENTS: I lived in the county twice (on Vandenberg AFB) from 1974 -1979 and again from 1987-1992. I didn’t work on a county list during those years, and didn’t chase birds locally unless I simply wanted to see them for general interest or other listing purposes. Finding a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper near the Santa Ynez River mouth in 1990 was one of my county highlights. I was also fortunate to see (along with Paul Lehman) the first county record of Gull-billed Tern, also at the Santa Ynez River mouth. Observing a Red-billed Tropicbird on the Santa Maria ABA Conference boat trip was certainly another highlight. Now that I’ve moved back here to stay and have more free time, I’ll probably make at least some effort to try and upgrade my county list. Editors note: In December 2008 Ken recorded his 300th bird on Vandenberg AFB




Florence Sanchez  400 CLUB

TOTAL: 408    400th BIRD: BALTIMORE ORIOLE


FLORENCE’S COMMENTS: It took awhile to create a county list for this webpage. For years I only kept a life list and a yard list. There are a couple of species that I’m sure I’ve seen in this county, but since I have no specific recollections or documentation for them, I’ve not included them. When I finally reached the 400 milestone, I went over everything again to be sure the total was correct. My 400th county bird was Baltimore Oriole, a species that was most uncooperative for me for a long time. I’ve been birding since 1968 and moved to Santa Barbara County in 1969. During a 10-year period (mid- 70’s to mid-80’s), I didn’t bird much due to other commitments. We also lived in Indiana 1995-1998. My biggest known miss was the Little Curlew. For years, my most frustrating miss was Laysan Albatross, but I finally got one on a 2011 pelagic trip, and I never again have to go out on the ocean in spring! The best bird I personally found and added to the county list was the Wilson’s Plover on the Harbor sandspit in 1992. I also was the first person to spot Fork-tailed Storm Petrels dancing off the end of Stearn’s Wharf in 1990. As far as contributions to birding, for several years I monitored both banded Snowy Plovers for PRBO and banded Black Skimmers for CSU Long Beach. From these surveys, we learned that some of our wintering snowies came from as far away as inland Oregon, and that our skimmers came from all the nesting sites in Southern California, including the Salton Sea. The bird I would most like to find and add to the county list would be White-rumped Sandpiper, especially since this species eluded me several times in Indiana.




Barbara Millett  400 CLUB

TOTAL: 406    400th BIRD: BROWN THRASHER


BARBARA’S COMMENTS: For many years the only bird records I kept were for my California and North America lists.  It wasn’t until this SBCO Birding listserve was in its 8th year that I decided to pull together what records I could find and join the fray of county listing.   Those records added up to 372 species – a total which probably errs on the low side, but better that than an inflated number.  And may I say that if I didn’t hate being seasick so very much, this total would no doubt be more impressive. Read all of Barbara’s comments here >>




Jamie Chavez

TOTAL: 399


JAMIE’S COMMENTS: My favorite county birds are Little Curlew (1993 version), Wes’s Baikal Teal near Lompoc, and the county first Wood Thrush not far from my Santa Maria home. A personal highlight is finding a Red-necked Stint at the Santa Maria River estuary in 1995. I've had many memorable finds such as Little Gull, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Magnificent Frigatebird, Great Crested Flycatcher, Painted Redstart, Pine, Yellow-throated and Grace's Warblers, and a Blue-footed Booby on Vandenberg AFB. I also comfortably count a Yellow-green Vireo from Vandenberg AFB but this was not accepted by the CBRC. I do have some glaring misses however - Eastern Kingbird, Red-eyed Vireo and Painted Bunting are just a few of the nemesis birds I am missing. I may be dreaming, but I would love to add Red-faced Warbler to the county list someday! I feel we are fortunate to live in such a bird rich part of California.




Jim Greaves

TOTAL: 399


JIM’S COMMENTS: I've counted 399 species in Santa Barbara County since 1977 (including islands and Channel), and photographed more than 300 of them. Aside from meeting many superb birders and wildlife photographers over the years, my favorite moments have to start with the WOOD THRUSH that Lark and I found in Santa Maria on 10 November 2005, adding it (finally!) to the Santa Barbara County List. Others include the dozen male Kentucky Warbler I found/saw in 1992 (including 7 of which I mist-netted, banded, and released) in upper Santa Ynez River watershed (all or most of which spent the summer), and the Yellow- throated Vireo I found up Mono Creek the same year. In addition, I have seen Indigo Bunting, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, and Black Swift as migrants up there, as well as confirmed evidence of nesting by Long-eared Owls, Spotted Sandpipers, Wood Ducks, and Common Mergansers. And of course, with the help of Jan and Hank Hamber, finding that isolated population of Least Bell's Vireos at Gibraltar Reservoir!




John Luther

TOTAL: 369 (NIB)


JOHN’S COMMENTS: I have never lived in Santa Barbara County, but love birding there and enjoying the wonderful birds that are found in the county. I especially enjoy those birds that linger long enough for those of us in northern California to get down to see.  As a California County Birder I bird all 58 counties and it is always a real treat to spend time birding in Santa Barbara County.




Jared Dawson

TOTAL: 362


JARED’S COMMENTS: I'd do better if I didn't like to travel so much during migration seasons, but I can't help it. Best remembered day was 6 new pelagic birds during summer deep sea trip that included Guadalupe Murrelet, those fabulous Cook's Petrels, and Leach's Storm-Petrels. Also memorable were the '05 Wood Thrush and the '04 Sedge Wren. Cruz's Kentucky Warbler was way cool.




Noah Gaines

TOTAL: 361 (NIB)




Mark Brown

TOTAL: 350


MARK’S COMMENTS: My best bird was the Little Curlew in Santa Maria (9/84). My worst miss was the Spotted Redshank at Santa Maria sewage (10/85). Mike Stiles got me started birding after he got hooked from a biology class taught by Bill Deneen at Hancock College. My favorite county birding memory is seeing 210 Sandhill Cranes flying over the Santa Maria Valley on the 1981 Santa Maria-Guadalupe Christmas Bird Count. My 300th bird was the Red-throated Pipit (10/03). I would like to add King Eider and White-rumped Sandpiper to the county list.



This "non-competitive" game of sharing your Santa Barbara County Life List total is open to everyone. A minimum of 350 birds on your county list is required to be included. Please submit your current total along with a few personal comments in the format below. A total of 400 is a milestone worthy of special recognition and participants become distinguished members of the exclusive “400 CLUB.” Please report periodic changes to the webmaster.


Listed in numerical order, the following birders have submitted their totals

(NIB = “no introduced birds” is optional).

COUNTY LISTERS