The 2023 Carpinteria Christmas Bird Count is in the books, and what a count it was! Perfect weather and great teamwork by 62 participants produced a preliminary total of 168* species, 7 more than the previous count record.
As in previous years, I was helped immensely by co-organizers Laurel Luby and Tom Beland, who did much of the heavy lifting of signing people up and securing access permissions. We had to scramble for a replacement boat for the pelagic team when Santa Barbara Channelkeeper’s vessel developed mechanical problems, but we were bailed out, so to speak, when local birder and boat-owner David Nimmons generously agreed to take our team out.
As in previous years, Alan Prichard at Jameson Lake hosted a team led by Jenny Slaughter. This year the team made the trip to the lake on Friday and stayed through Sunday, giving them a full day of back-country birding that added impressively to our totals, including our count’s only reports of Bald Eagle, Common Goldeneye, and Lewis’s Woodpecker.
Some of the other exciting rarities we found:
- A gorgeous male Painted Bunting that has been visiting feeders at a private residence near the Carpinteria Sanitary District since mid-November, seen and recorded on video by the lucky homeowner on the morning of the count
- Not one but two Ancient Murrelets, one turned up by Dave Pereksta’s pelagic team at Rincon Island and also seen by Michael Mulroy and his team covering that location from the island itself, and the other found by Taylor Paez from Loon Point beach
- A Summer Tanager near the north end of the Ennisbrook Nature Trail
- A Bay-breasted Warbler found by Rob Hofberg on Padaro Lane
- A Greater Pewee (only the second-ever county record) found by Libby Patten and Carol Goodell in the northern part of Ennisbrook
This just skims the surface. For a more-complete picture of the results, see the count’s eBird trip report.
These results are preliminary; in the coming weeks I’ll be going through our submission in detail, deciding whether the level of documentation is sufficient to support all the reported birds. There also is an interesting question about whether to include the Painted Bunting, since an argument could be made that it is likely to be an escaped cage bird and hence should not be counted. I’m gathering opinions about that and will continue to explore the issue, but at the moment my inclination is to include the bird. Any changes to the count results will be reflected in the eBird trip report.
Regardless of the final number it was a great count, and all the participants should be proud of what we accomplished. I look forward to next year!
— John Callender, Carpinteria CBC compiler
*I originally said we had 167 species, but Mark Bright noticed that I neglected to include the Parasitic Jaegers seen by the pelagic crew. So we’re (provisionally) at 168!