Santa Cruz County
all photos & text by Don Roberson
all photos taken in California
Black Swift on nest
23 June 1981 at Lighthouse Pt., Santa Cruz
Cruz County occupies just a small slice of the central California coast
but contains an amazing diversity of habitats within its limited boundaries:
sea cliffs, coastal estuaries, extensive redwood forests, patches of chaparral
and coastal scrub, and thickly-forested slopes in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Those forests contain the southernmost coastal breeding populations of
several deep-woods species, including Pileated Woodpecker and Varied Thrush.
There are numerous vagrant traps along the coast from the urban areas of
Santa Cruz itself to the Pajaro River. The northern half of Monterey Bay
is within county waters and, while most boat trips leave from Monterey,
a wide selection of pelagic species have been located within SCZ. Indeed,
in many years the famed storm-petrel flock forms over the Soquel Canyon
portion of Monterey Bay, inside the Santa Cruz line.
County birding statistics and links are on Joe Morlan's site. A plethora of birding information — directions to birding spots, rarities, birding history, and much more — is on the Santa Cruz Bird Club web site.
| For Santa Cruz County the opening photo is
one taken many years ago: a Black Swift on its nest in a sea-cave in the
cliffs below Lighthouse Pt. It is not a very good picture — the film is
grainy and the bird distant. The high-speed film was necessary to get even
any type of photo in the perpetual shade where the nest was placed [it
is duly noted that those with good equipment, such as Ron Branson, got
some fabulous shots of this nest]. Nonetheless, I like the photo because
of the memories: I've not seen a Black Swift nest again, anywhere, and
the nesting population in SCZ has disappeared over the past decade. The
species seems on the decline in MTY as well. Plus, as I worked with the
photo in PhotoShop to bring out what I could, I started noticing the lovely
colors in the rocks that make up the cliff face.
As Santa Cruz County is just north of Monterey County, where I live, I sometimes chase exceptional vagrants there. One of them was a Crested Caracara (below left; photo taken 30 Oct 2005) that was present along Swanton Road in fall 2002 and again in fall 2005). Since I am also often on Monterey Bay pelagic trips, I am taken (usually unwillingly) into SCZ waters regularly, in the northern part of the Bay. This adult Tufted Puffin (below right; 24 Aug 2003) flew past the boat right at mid-Bay, essentially on the MTY-SCZ line.
|All photos & text © 2006 Don Roberson; all rights reserved.|
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