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A day of target birding in Santa Cruz County, at first frustrating, but ultimately successful.
Rock Corral Canyon:
I’ve had good luck with Five-striped Sparrow here lately, seeing one every time I tried this month. So it was a surprise that we couldn’t rustle one up today, despite it being our main target and spending most of the morning exploring the whole area of their habitat in great detail. Such is birding.
While we were failing with the sparrow, we did find SHARP-SHINNED and GRAY HAWKS, COSTA’S and BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRDS, NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, PACIFIC-SLOPE, VERMILION, DUSKY-CAPPED and ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHERS, loads of BELL’S and a pair of HUTTON’S VIREOS, BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, ORANGE-CROWNED, lots of LUCY’S, ‘AUDUBON’S’ YELLOW-RUMPED and a nice migrant VIRGINIA’S WARBLER, RUFOUS-WINGED and LINCOLN’S SPARROWS, GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE, several SUMMER TANAGERS, my first two WESTERN TANAGERS of the year, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, LAZULI BUNTING, and SCOTT’S and HOODED ORIOLES.
Confluence of California Gulch & Warsaw Canyon:
We headed in via Arivaca and Warsaw Canyon Rd, and planned to bird at the ‘traditional’ spot to try our luck for Five-striped Sparrow. However, my ankle was hurting and I wanted to give it a few minutes’ rest, so I decided to stop at the confluence. Lo and behold, we found a FIVE-STRIPED SPARROW right away and had excellent views! Again, such is birding.
Ruby Lakes (California Gulch Dam):
After our good luck with the sparrow, we had some time to kill before night birding, so we spent a while at this nice little site. There was nothing out of the ordinary, but the general birding was good, including ‘MEXICAN’ MALLARD, NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, a migrant WARBLING VIREO, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, several YELLOW WARBLERS, a migrant WILSON’S WARBLER, and a few gorgeous HOODED ORIOLES.
Confluence of California Gulch & Warsaw Canyon again:
We arrived at dusk to listen for nightjars. A CRISSAL THRASHER was calling, as were BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER and GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE.
One of the BUFF-COLLARED NIGHTJARS started singing on the usual hillside at 7:20 p.m. We didn’t stay to see it, we were just happy to know he was there. We also heard ELF OWL and GREAT HORNED OWL before we left.