Date: 6/1/18 8:34 pm
From: Florence Sanchez via Groups.Io <sanchezucsb11=<>
Subject: [sbcobirding] West Camino Cielo
My last attempt to hike along West Camino Cielo was almost a month ago.  I wanted to look for "fire followers" among the emergent vegetation after the fire, but was completely stymied that day due to dense fog along the ridge.  I finally got back to the area today and had a good morning botanically, but unexpectedly it was a good morning for birding up there too.    
I parked about 3 miles up WCC from its intersection with Refugio Road (opposite 1150 WCC) and then hiked almost as far as the first communication station and back, which I figure was a round-trip distance of 4 miles.  From the very beginning, I started picking up Lazuli Buntings and Ash-throated flycatchers.  At first I though they were flying into the burned area from the unburned area above the road, but eventually I reached the point where both sides of the road were burned and I was still getting them as well as the birds mentioned below.  
I counted at least 10 male Lazulis and 3 females.  The males were all singing.  The Ash-throated were almost always in pairs, and I must have had at least 6 of them.   In addition I had Anna's Hummingbirds, Black-headed Grosbeaks, and most of the usual chaparral birds in good numbers, including both California and Mountain Quail (the latter heard only).  The highlight of the morning was hearing at least 3 different Black-chinned Sparrows singing, possibly 4.  Two (or three if the second one I heard was a different bird from the first one) were singing from the ridge line well above the road; the other was well below the road in one of the canyons.  For the first one, I spotted a small bird on the ridge line that appeared to be the one singing, but it was too far away to identify visually even through binoculars.
As for the flowers, I found lots of Phacelia, including the large-flowered kind and two other species with smaller flowers in good abundance.  The Zygadene lilies I found on my last visit are almost done, but Yuccas are coming into bloom all over the hillside in both burned and unburned areas.  Hummingbirds seemed to be finding them very attractive.  As I got higher and higher up the road, I began getting large patches of Whispering Bells, another fire follower.  As I mentioned after my previous visit, the chaparral shrubs like Manzanita, Chamise, Toyon, and Scrub Oak are resprouting nicely.  One Toyon's new growth was already 4' high.
All in all, it was a great morning with mild temperature, a light breeze, and plenty to look at.
Florence Sanchez

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