Went to CA last week for my brother-in-laws wedding, which was rather splendid. The wedding took place in Santa Barbara, which is west of Los Angeles (aka Plastic land). Amidst the rituals and festivities, we enjoyed a few hours birding in Santa Barbara County and I added 13 lifers to the ole ABA list. Upon our arrival, at the rather quaint airport, I tried desperately to avoid House Sparrow being the first bird I saw. Well I failed miserably! It seems every airport on Planet Earth has House Sparrows. Maybe the RSPB should promote more airports! The second species was much better, a Phainopepla.Whilst the missus and Mrs Brashears went to have their nails done, I went for a stroll along Stearn's Wharf with a group of hardcore birders. Stearn's Wharf was a bit like Brighton pier without the cockney's. Instead of Herring Guls there were Western Gulls. They had Fish & Chip shops but no Candy Floss or Laughing Policeman.
I'd forgotten how exciting gulls were and spent at least 20 seconds taking a few pictures of the different ages!Other birds noted included Eared Grebe, Surf Scoter, Pelagic and Brandt's Cormorant, Heermann's Gull, Willets, Feral Pigeons and Acorn Woodpeckers climbing up Palm trees.On our second day we birded the grounds oft he University of Santa Barbara. Apparently the best bird we saw was a Tricolored Heron! I got flagged by ebird and hadn't realised that they are rare in California. Sorry! Well we spent less time looking at the Tri than we did at the Western Gulls! The Black Turnstones were much more exciting as were the Long-billed Curlews, Says Phoebe, Cassin's Kingbird, Anna's Hummingbird, Western Scrub-jay, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Black Phoebe, California Towhee, Townsend's Warbler and Western Grebes.
On the morning of the wedding day we took a drive to Los Alamos County Park with the in-laws to look for Yellow-billed Magpies. They were easy to find. Ferruginous Hawk, Oak Titmouse, Red-breasted Sapsucker and tons of Oregon Junco's also obliged.
The wedding was splendid and Matt's life sentence began. He has now joined the millions of shackled men worldwide. May he and his bride Laura, share many years of happiness together. My only advice Matt, is to say yes, a lot!