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!
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.
Happily the rest of the Ranch was open. I started my tour at the Stable.
One stable was occupied by a nice old ewe that seemed comfortable and pleased to have a visitor.
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.
There was a lovely old goat milking platform and I saw just outside there were in fact, some sizeable nannies to milk.
Kitty-corner there was a quite long Carriage House. The doors were open so I went in for a look around.
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.
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.
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!
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 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.