Date: 2/7/20 4:25 pm
From: Florence Sanchez via Groups.Io <sanchezucsb11=<>
Subject: [sbcobirding] East Pinery Road and Figueroa Mountain Road
I hiked East Pinery Road this morning (this time with binoculars).  As often happens, the bird population can change drastically from one day to the next, and the numbers were way down from yesterday.  There was almost no activity on the first part of the trail, normally the best.  Further down, I did not have the small flocks of sparrow-type birds going into the brush that I did yesterday.  Junco flocks and Western Bluebirds were way down in number.   Consequently, I had to work for what I got but ended up with a couple of surprises.
First was a flyover Merlin near the trailhead.  Even though Woodpecker activity was down overall, I found a Red-breasted Sapsucker in a tall ponderosa about 1/3 of the way down the trail, a species I have not had here this year before today.  I managed to pish up a Fox Sparrow into good view, enough to confirm that it was a Sooty.  I had a flyover group of about a dozen finches in the area where I had the Sapsucker that sounded like Cassin's; on the way back past the same area, I had five finches in close enough to confirm that they were Cassin's.  I got the Townsend's Solitaire just before I left--it was in a mistletoe infested oak about 50 feet down the road from the parking area.  It was still making the single-noted clear call, but not as frequently as yesterday.
Since I hiked only half of East Pinery today, I had time to walk up a little bit of the trail to Ranger Peak.  Activity was almost nil, so I returned to my car to drive back to the water trough on Figueroa Mountain Road and also check out the Davy Brown Trailhead.  Those few minutes on the Ranger Peak Trail cost me the Crossbills at the trough--I was informed I had just missed them!  I checked out the Davy Brown Trailhead, listening for Crossbills in Fir Canyon, but heard nothing, so I returned to watch the water trough.  No luck on Crossbills--I gave it up after two hours.  I suspect their visits may be a once a day event.
Spring is certainly starting to evidence.  The white ceanothus are in bloom all the way up San Marcos Pass Road from Santa Barbara and even starting on lower Figueroa Mountain Road.  In the shady wooded area just as one starts up the mountain, the roadsides already have Milkmaids and Miner's Lettuce in bloom.
Florence Sanchez

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