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Baikal Teal in Lompoc

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  • Dave Compton
    This morning, as everyone on the Santa Barbara County list already knows, Wes Fritz located a male BAIKAL TEAL during a La Purisma Audubon Sociery field trip
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 10, 2005
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      This morning, as everyone on the Santa Barbara County list already knows,
      Wes Fritz located a male BAIKAL TEAL during a La Purisma Audubon Sociery
      field trip to the Mission Hills sewage treatment plant near Lompoc, Santa
      Barbara County. The plant was open to the public especially for this field
      trip, and the plant manager, Dan Finney, was kind enough to stay around
      until 3pm on his day off while other birders came to see the bird. No bands
      could be seen on the bird's legs (which were seen well off and on over
      several hours), and the bird was very skittish, not allowing anyone to
      approach closer than about 100 yds.

      There are still other options for seeing this bird. Dan will be at the plant
      tomorrow morning from 10am to noon and will permit access to any birder
      wishing to see the teal. Also, this afternoon, the bird could easily be seen
      from a hillside immediately west of the park. So climbing up the hillside
      and scoping from the clearings is an option for looking for this bird as
      long as it remains.

      DIRECTIONS: From US 101 at Buellton, take highway 154 west; turn right onto
      Purisma Rd just before you reach Lompoc, and take this road past the mission
      and to the flashing red light at Rucker Rd, where you turn right again; from
      Rucker, drive north to Burton Mesa Rd, and then turn right once more; go one
      to two tenths of a mile, until you see an inconspicuous unpaved road just
      past some small pines on your right; turn here and follow the road down the
      hill to the fenced-off sewage plant. (The road continues past the sewage
      plant onto La Purisima Mission property.) If you arrive any time but between
      10 and 12 tomorrow, pull off the road and search for the duck from the hill
      to the west (light may be very bad in the morning, but it's good in the
      afternoon). If you arrive when Dan is there tomorrow, pull inside the sewage
      plant gate, past the "No Trespassing" sign, and park next to the buildings.
      The bird was mostly in the third pond from the north end of the plant, or
      the northernmost unlined pond (the two northernmost ponds are lined with a
      black material of some sort, while the others are surrounded by plain,
      vegetated dirt berms). It was also seen in the second lined pond, and
      probably spent some time in one of the more southerly ponds. Once all the
      birders settled into the west side of the ponds, the bird settled into the
      east end of the third pond and didn't leave all afternoon.

      A few other comments about looking for this bird: Not many people go into
      this place, so the ducks (Northern Shovelers, Hooded Mergansers, Blue-winged
      Teal, Buffleheads, Cinnamon Teal, and Green-wiged Teal) are not used to
      crowds of humans and are thus skittish. This means it would be very bad to
      have a bunch of people wandering all over the sewage plant looking for the
      bird, flushing all the ducks. I highly recommend that people stay in a group
      and locate the bird, rather than spreading out. There are only about seven
      ponds here, so it shouldn't take too long to find it. If you arrive when Dan
      opens the gate tomorrow, I suppose people can go in together to look for the
      bird. Anyone arriving later should probably first try to locate the other
      birders. Today, late arrivers walked on the outside of the berm to the
      group, thus not flushing any ducks. Also, this plan did limit photographic
      opportunities, and I hope tomorrow no one will endanger the chances of
      anyone else to see the bird by flushing it trying to get a better photo.

      My understanding is that there are 5 accepted California records for this
      species between 1946 and 1987, all involving specimens, and that another one
      was reported from from the Klamath River in 2004 (I dont' know the fate of
      this record with the CBRC). Congratulations to Wes Fritz for finding an
      incredible bird. Also, all of us who saw the bird today want to express our
      great appreciation to Dan Finney of the Mission Hills sewage plant for being
      so accommodating and staying around for most of his day off.

      Dave Compton
      Santa Barbara
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