Date: 2/11/20 9:34 pm
From: Florence Sanchez via Groups.Io <sanchezucsb11=<>
Subject: [sbcobirding] Santa Maria Birding on Tuesday, 2-11
I checked a few places in Santa Maria today with mixed results.
First stop was Donovan Road.  I did not have the variety or abundance of birds in the fields on either side of this short road next to the airport as I did when I last visited a month ago.  However, there were still about 15 Horned Larks in one field and also a Ferruginous Hawk that I did not pick up last time.
Next stop was the little park where the Pine Warbler has been seen.  I birded this park and the athletic complex across Sunrise drive but didn't pull it out.  At one point there was a flock of Yellow-rumps feeding on the ground, but even though it was rather backlighted, I went over it thoroughly and the Pine Warbler wasn't with them.  I found House Finches and American Goldfinches feeding in the Liquidamber (Sweetgum) trees, but no Crossbills.
Next stops were two the different locations bordering the Santa Maria Country Club.  I found the Eastern Phoebe where it has been reported previously (off Industrial Way) and the male Vermillion Flycatcher in a Willow bordering the large pond (viewable from Lorencita Way).
At the Santa Maria Sewage Treatment Plant, I saw a lot of Mew Gulls and a few California Gulls, but no Herring, Iceland, or Bonaparte's Gulls while I was there.  The number of continuing Greater Yellowlegs there is staggering and I found 25 Cinnamon Teal in one of the ponds.  Jack O'Connell Park was pretty birdless.  I turned up a nice mixed flock of Blackbirds in nearby fields, including several Tri-colored.
I decided to drive to Ocean Park in Lompoc to finish the day, hoping for some interesting gulls, but there were very few around.  The estuary is full and though the road in isn't flooded (yet!), the walkway under the railroad trestle is.  I couldn't see any gulls or other birds on the berm at the River Mouth, so chose not to take the alternate route out there (up the bank and across the railroad tracks--rather dangerous in my opinion).  
An incidental bird note:  I have driven 101 home from the north county four times in the past week.  Three of those times, I have found an Osprey in almost the same place each time.  The first two times, it has been perched on a utility pole on the south side of 101, just before the sign saying "El Capitan State Park, 3/4 mile."  Today it was about mile before there (closer to Refugio), perched on another pole and eating something.
More signs of Spring:  Fiddleneck is blooming in the Freeway Median Strip from Los Alamos to Gaviota, and I found the Large-flowered form of Fiddleneck along the roadside off Highway one on the way from Guadalupe to Lompoc.
Florence Sanchez

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