California is the only state with more than one endemic bird species. Yesterday we saw the first one - Island Scrub-Jay. Today we saw the other - Yellow-billed Magpie - in the upper Santa Inez River valley (photo). We also another scrub-jay, the Western Scrub-Jay (photo). This species is also ripe for a split since authorities seem to agree that the coastal version, the one we're seeing now, is distinct from the interior form that we will see in West Texas and other places. So now I've seen all of the current species of scrub-jay for the year.
The morning started off well with a good breakfast, but went downhill quickly. Two places I had chosen to look for birds were either crowded with people or had been trashed. In addition we encountered Southern California morning rush hour traffic. But when we headed out of Santa Barbara up over San Marcos Pass, things got much better. In fact we equalled yesterday's tally of new year birds (14). In the oaks we saw Oak Titmouse. We also added three new woodpeckers (Nuttall's, White-headed, and Red-breasted Sapsucker), a flycatcher (Cassin's Kingbird), Band-tailed Pigeon, Golden Eagle, Wrentit, two Californias (Thrasher and Towhee), Golden-crowned Sparrow, and Yellow Warbler. That's what happens when you go to an entirely new area to bird.
In the afternoon we went to the mouth of the Santa Inez River and looked through the gulls, ducks, grebes, and shorebirds. It was a spectacular place. However, we had hoped to see Snowy Plover. But the area had been closed just today to allow the birds to nest without disturbance. We went to an alternate accessible location on the beach nearby, but didn't have any luck. The fellow watching over the area told us the plovers had been there that morning. We've all hear that before. When it got too dark to see, we drove north to Pismo Beach where we'll be positioned for a look at some cliffs tomorrow morning. This location is the furthest north we'll venture on this trip. My species total now stands at 381 for the year.