Monday, September 17, 2007

Bewick's, Bothered and Bewildered

Maybe I had such high expectations or maybe I just wasn't thinking logically when I made a decision to visit Placerita Canyon yesterday. Fall migration was in full swing and I just thought that the canyon would host the usual number of warblers and vireos. I could not have been more wrong! The place was almost completely birdless! Normally, just at the parking lot, we would see Sparrows, Kinglets, Mourning Doves and Starlings. None of these birds were present that Saturday.

We moved on to the picnic area, another place that is usually swarming with birds, but other than a single Oak Titmouse, it was very quiet.

At the trails, a few Towhees played hide and seek with us. Near the bench, where we had Lazuli Buntings and several warblers in our earlier visits, a lone Wilson's Warbler foraged among the leaves high up an oak tree.

After more than two hours of birding, we still have not taken a single shot of any bird at all. My wife, seeing the bewildered look on my face, suggested we go to Eaton Canyon in Pasadena. I agreed, half-expecting to encounter tons of people walking their dogs as was the usual case there on a Saturday morning. To our surprise, there were only a handful of human beings and zero canines at all! But then our birding miseries continued as I only had acceptable photos of a forlorn California Towhee and a cooperative Bewick's Wren. Cynthia remained scoreless even up until the time we had to leave for lunch.

That night as I was reading the various birding listservs in Yahoo where some rare birds were seen, I can't find a really good reason why I chose going to Placerita Canyon instead of going to Malibu lagoon to "twitch" for the Yellow Wagtail or even to the Laguna Tams in Ventura where a Blackburnian Warbler was found. Perhaps I was bothered by the imminence of soon losing my job and made me consider not spending much on gasoline and therefore choosing a location much closer to home.

I don't feel bad a lot of times but this time "I'm wild again, beguiled again, a simpering, whimpering child again..."

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