Island Scrub Jay, Santa Cruz Island


Santa Cruz Island, Dairy Mart Road Sod Farm
Oct 12-14, 2002, 50 - 75 degrees
- narrated by Henry Detwiler

A day on the island with Suzanne, the girls, and Bob to look for the Island Scrub Jay, and then a morning searching for Red-throated Pipits way down south. 

Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized shots.

Our first good birds from the boat were the two Pelagic Cormorants waiting for us in the harbor.  We left the dock shortly after 8:00AM and headed west.  The sea was calm and the boat was fast, so we made great time.  A pod of dolphins swam at the bow for a while, and when we were within sight of Santa Cruz Island we were treated to a pair of Blue Whales spouting and diving.  Pelagics were slim, with an unidentified jaeger and distant shearwater.  

Becky, Suzanne, Adriana, Gaby, Erika
Scorpion Harbor

Bob Miller

We dropped off a good number of passengers at Scorpion Anchorage.  A Black Oystercatcher sat on the edge of a sentinel rock, and a Harbor Seal played in the kelp.  As we rounded the corner of the island, Royal Terns came into view.  The fog & clouds broke up a little, and sun filtered through to warm us up. 

Prisoner's Harbor

It didn't take long for the first Island Scrub Jays to show up after we landed at Prisoner's Harbor.  They are obviously accustomed to being fed, and were undoubtedly put out that we'd failed to bring them tasty morsels from the mainland.  After a short orientation from the park ranger, we set out for a walk.  


 Island Scrub Jay

Hiking up the canyon we looked down on a few of the feral pigs which call the island home.  Suzanne continued up the hill while Bob & I explored some side roads.  Some of the birds we observed were: Golden-crowned & Rufous- crowned Sparrows, Anna's & Allen's Hummingbirds, Say's & Black Phoebes, and a Red-breasted Sapsucker. 

Black Phoebe





Common Raven

American Kestrels, a Red-tailed Hawk, and an Osprey were overhead.  We missed any eagles.  Ravens were also quite common. 

Common Raven
Bob and I hiked to the end of the rocky beach, and by clambering over the boulders, got decent looks at a flock of Brandt's Cormorants.  The trip back was on a much smaller boat--no more whales, but we did see  Black-vented and a Flesh-footed Shearwater. 

Brandt's Cormorants

Great Blue Heron

The next morning at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary  Bruce Aird showed us his new Swarovski AT-65 spotting scope and Brunton binoculars, while guiding  us around the fine preserve.  A Pectoral Sandpiper and Wilson's Snipe made for fine birds to examine.   

Just before noon we reached the Dairy Mart Sod Farms south of San Diego.  After 15 minutes of searching, we found the winter-plummaged  Red-throated Pipit.  Two life birds in as many days!

 Santa Cruz Island & Dairy Mart Road Sod Farm
(and on the road from & to Yuma)
12-14 Oct 2002
# Species
1 Pied-billed Grebe
2 Western Grebe
3 Clark's Grebe
4 Black-vented Shearwater
5 Pink-footed Shearwater
6 American White Pelican
7 Brown Pelican
8 Brandt's Cormorant
9 Double-crested Cormorant
10 Pelagic Cormorant
11 Great Blue Heron
12 Great Egret
13 Snowy Egret
14 Cattle Egret
15 Black-crowned Night Heron
16 White-faced Ibis
17 Gadwall
18 American Wigeon
19 Mallard
20 Cinnamon Teal
21 Northern Shoveler
22 Northern Pintail
23 Green-winged Teal
24 Surf Scoter
25 Ruddy Duck
26 Osprey
27 Northern Harrier
28 Cooper's Hawk
29 Red-shouldered Hawk
30 Red-tailed Hawk
31 American Kestrel
32 California Quail
33 Common Moorhen
34 American Coot
35 Black-bellied Plover
36 Semipalmated Plover
37 Killdeer
38 Black Oystercatcher
39 Black-necked Stilt
40 American Avocet
41 Greater Yellowlegs
42 Willet
43 Spotted Sandpiper
44 Whimbrel
45 Long-billed Curlew
46 Marbled Godwit
47 Ruddy Turnstone
48 Black Turnstone
49 Surfbird
50 Sanderling
51 Western Sandpiper
52 Least Sandpiper
53 Pectoral Sandpiper
54 Long-billed Dowitcher
55 Wilson's Snipe


# Species
56 Turkey Vulture
57 Laughing Gull
58 Bonaparte's Gull
59 Ring-billed Gull
60 Herring Gull
61 Yellow-footed Gull
62 Western Gull
63 Gull-billed Tern
64 Caspian Tern
65 Royal Tern
66 Elegant Tern
67 Forster's Tern
68 Rock Dove
69 Mourning Dove
70 Inca Dove
71 Common Ground-Dove
72 Lesser Nighthawk
73 Vaux's Swift
74 Anna's Hummingbird
75 Allen's Hummingbird
76 Belted Kingfisher
77 Gila Woodpecker
78 Red-breasted Sapsucker
79 Northern Flicker
80 Black Phoebe
81 Say's Phoebe
82 Loggerhead Shrike
83 Island Scrub Jay
84 American Crow
85 Common Raven
86 Barn Swallow
87 Verdin
88 Bushtit
89 Bewick's Wren
90 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
91 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
92 Northern Mockingbird
93 European Starling
94 American Pipit
95 Red-throated Pipit
96 Orange-crowned Warbler
97 Yellow-rumped Warbler
98 Spotted Towhee
99 California Towhee
100 Rufous-crowned Sparrow
101 Brewer's Sparrow
102 Song Sparrow
103 Lincoln's Sparrow
104 White-crowned Sparrow
105 Golden-crowned Sparrow
106 Red-winged Blackbird
107 Brewer's Blackbird
108 Great-tailed Grackle
109 House Finch
110 Lesser Goldfinch
111 House Sparrow

Photos Henry D. Detwiler