The 2022 Carpinteria Christmas Bird count is in the books, and what a count it was! More than 60 participants fanned out across our circle, and by the time we were done we had submitted more than 92 checklists and seen a preliminary total of 162 species, 4 more than the previous record. We had great weather, with cool but mostly calm conditions, and an amazing crop of rarities.
No fewer than seven species were found that had never been seen on our count before:
- King Eider, a species not only never seen on our count, but never recorded in Santa Barbara County, ever. And it still hasn’t been recorded in Santa Barbara County, since Hugh Ranson and his pelagic team found the birds in the relatively small portion of our count circle in Ventura County, under the causeway leading to Rincon Island.
- A Long-tailed Duck, also found near the Rincon Island causeway by Hugh and the pelagic team.
- Mountain Quail, a true “nemesis bird” for the count that had resisted being found despite years of trying. This year two different teams found Mountain Quails: Steve Colwell’s team at Romero Saddle, and Mario Borunda and Andrea Bruce in Ventura County’s Murietta Canyon.
- Townsend’s Solitaire, found by the same two mountain teams at Romero Saddle and Murietta Canyon.
- American Dipper, found by Mario and Andrea in Murietta Canyon.
- Vermilion Flycatcher, a gorgeous subadult male that has been hanging around the Carpinteria State Beach campground for weeks. Sophie Cameron, State Park Interpreter Christina Furio, and their team of observers made sure we got this bird for the count.
- Tennessee Warbler, found by Eric Culbertson in a bottlebrush tree on Shemara Street in the northeastern part of Carpinteria
Another five species were seen that had only been seen once before on our count, including one, Mountain Bluebird, that we hadn’t had since the very first Carpinteria CBC in 2009. This year Libby Patten found one at the Ortega Ridge Pines during scouting, but we couldn’t find that bird on count day. Instead the species was found by Steve Colwell up near Romero Saddle, and by Eric Culbertson and by Tom Beland and Laurel Luby’s group at the Carpinteria Bluffs.
A full listing of the species we found is available in the eBird trip report for the count, and in the days ahead we’ll be adding photos and sound recordings there.
I want to finish by thanking everyone who participated this year. Something I’ve come to appreciate is that a Christmas count is very much a team sport. Whether or not you had the exciting experience of contributing one or more unique species to the count, everyone who was in the field on count day was part of making this year’s record-breaking result possible. I couldn’t be prouder of our team, and can’t wait to go birding with all of you again next year.
— John Callender, Carpinteria CBC compiler