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August 5th, 2015
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Big Year Target Birding

A slightly frustrating morning, but highly successful evening of ‘Big Year’ target birding in Santa Cruz County, with a couple of major highlights.

Peña Blanca Canyon:

We spent a few hours early morning, with our main target being RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER. We heard one singing, but annoyingly we couldn’t persuade it to show.

The canyon was lively, though, and we were compensated with a GOLDEN EAGLE high overhead, ELEGANT TROGON, lots of GRAY HAWK activity, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, CORDILLERAN, DUSKY-CAPPED and SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHERS, HUTTON’S and WARBLING VIREOS, BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER, PAINTED REDSTART, CHIPPING SPARROW, HEPATIC and SUMMER TANAGERS, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, LAZULI and VARIED BUNTINGS, and HOODED ORIOLE.

Elegant Trogon

Golden Eagle

Confluence of California Gulch & Warsaw Canyon:

The first target, FIVE-STRIPED SPARROW, was duly checked off the list with minimal fuss. As we waited for it to get dark, we found LESSER NIGHTHAWK, ASH-THROATED and BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS, a surprise THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW, VARIED BUNTING, and HOODED ORIOLE.

Five-striped Sparrow

California Gulch rainbow

A pair of ELF OWLS gave us great views, but the nightjars were silent. We almost gave up after spending a good while looking, but one final search with the flashlight paid off as I noticed a tiny point of light which, on closer inspection and a lucky angle through the trees, turned into splendid views of a perched BUFF-COLLARED NIGHTJAR.

Buff-collared Nightjar

Ruby Rd again:

As we headed home, happy with our evening’s work, we saw multiple GREAT HORNED OWLS along the road, as well as a STRIPED SKUNK and a few SONORAN DESERT TOADS.

 

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