It was still warming up when ten of us Santa Barbara birders joined Jack Sanford at noon on Saturday at Allensworth State Historic Park. Jack was smiling. He had been here since Wednesday, and had found a number of Burrowing Owl sites. For the next hour, we visited two sites that held about eight owls between them. The birds were very active, and produced lots of ooh’s and aah’s from the group.
We then proceeded to drive to a number of sites Jack had found. Farm fields with hundreds of Long-billed curlews. Ag ponds with 50 Common Mergansers. Poles and wires with raptors perched on them.
Our day ended with the fabulous visit to Pixley NWR for Sandhill Crane and Ibis fly-in’s. The ponds were already filled with waterfowl, shorebirds and gulls by the time we arrived. At dusk we started to hear the unmistakable vocalizations of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Sandhills coming in to roost for the night. White-faced Ibis arrived in large numbers as well. The group was mesmerized for a half hour.
Saturday ended with a campfire of storytelling at Jack’s campsite.
We spent Sunday morning auto touring the Kern NWR. Waterfowl and raptors abound. We found a number of rare species such as Wilson’s Snipe and Yellow-headed Blackbird. The field trip concluded at the end of the tour, and we all made our way home. This is my fourth Allensworth trip, and surely one of the best! Great birding with some great camaraderie, and spending quality time with Jack Sanford, our fearless leader!