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Thursday, January 06, 2011

Mini-break Day Three at Wilder Ranch

Wilder Ranch State Park

Having success seeing vagrant Brown Shrike yesterday, day three we beelined to Santa Cruz. I wanted to see another at large birdie, a Dusky-capped Flycatcher. For its own personal reasons, the southwestern semi-tropical bird decided to spend a lovely winter vacation at Wilder Ranch State Park. It seems the choice vacation spots for vagrants this year is on the coast by California's more secluded beaches. Good going birdies!

One of the Ranch's Farmhouses

We got there 10:30-ish and started after our quarry. Unfortunately the bird was conspicuously un-present. Bummed, and hoping the bird would have pity and return at a later time, Don took a walk down to the beach, while I took my time touring the old timey western farm. The first thing I learned is that the California Budget Cuts hit EVERYTHING. The visitor center was closed.

Greeting inside the closed Visitor Center

Happily the rest of the Ranch was open. I started my tour at the Stable.

The Stable

Lovely old fashioned Stalls

One stable was occupied by a nice old ewe that seemed comfortable and pleased to have a visitor.

Martha My Dear

Found myself feeling sorry for the park staff who probably tired of answering endless questions about a sweet old ewe in one of the stalls.

Chill out, She's FINE!

There was a lovely old goat milking platform and I saw just outside there were in fact, some sizeable nannies to milk.

Other Wilder Ranch Residents

Kitty-corner there was a quite long Carriage House. The doors were open so I went in for a look around.

Inside the Carriage House

There were slats serving as windows on the long building - quite scenic. One window gave a nice view of a large bull on a hillside, while another window opened over a running riverlet. Juvenile Golden-crowned Sparrows tumbled in and out of the shrubs above the gently flowing water.

Look through the Carriage House wall

There were loads of old timey farm equipment in the Carriage House and a couple of petite, upholstered buggies with large and dusty painted wheels. I couldn't help but wish I had a shot a driving one of them, behind a pair of smartly harnessed Morgan Horses.

Beautiful old buggy

Ancient outbuilding

Now THAT'S a Chicken Coop!

Old equipment storage shed

As frigid as the weather's been of late, I was amazed to find a raggedy looking Red Admiral Butterfly skittering about - a hearty little soul!

"Ratty the Flutterby

Disapointed, but still hopeful about seeing the Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Don and I went drove into Santa Cruz for a quick lunch, then drove back to the Ranch. The Dusky-capped Warbler was still conspiculously abscent. Bugger. Here's a lovely photo by a birder who did see it and managed a beautifully sharp photo (as opposed to my standard blurry shots).

The Dusky-capped Flycatcher - Brilliant Photo by Ron Wolf

The remainder of the day we checked out various spots along the coast and even checked out a spot in Santa Cruz where another excellent bird, a Rock Sandpiper was also a no-show. Some days I wish I had a different hobby, I can tell you. Anyway, we made it back to Don's after dark where there was just enough time for me enjoy one Hot Buttered Rum before I drove home.

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