The trails behind the Nature Center at Placerita Canyon was completely devoid of birds at 8:30 am last Friday. Getting bitter with disappointment and murmuring to myself "I drove over 30 miles for nothing!" I decided to try the picnic area. Imagine my amazement when I discovered that that was where the birds are! The grounds were literally hopping with sparrows (mostly Golden-crowned!) and Juncos. Some even a few feet from me totally oblivious of my presence. The creekbed alongside the picnic area still holds a few puddles of water from last week's rain. There Lesser and American Goldfinches, Golden-crowned, White-crowned and Fox Sparrows and Towhees were enjoying an early morning bath despite the low 60's temperature.
As I wandered around drinking in the apparent tameness of the feathered creatures of this place, I flushed a flock of Fox Sparrows. They all flew into a tall bush about ten feet from where I was standing. One individual clambered up the branches and gave me a long, hard look. I guess it was as curious about me as I was about him.
Then there was this couple of Nuttall's Woodpeckers. The male was working on a tree several feet away from the female. Both (unintentionally, I'm sure) played chase with me. As soon I came within photographic distance, the bird would fly off to another tree. First I would chase the male and when it would fly off, I will go after the female which would do the exact same thing. Persistence paid off eventually. I got shots of both.
At around 10:30 am, avian activity ceased completely. Where about an hour earlier, the ground was covered by birds, suddenly not a creature was stirring, not even an Oak Titmouse.
I was walking back to the parking lot when I heard a screeching noise from atop a tree. Looking up I saw first a Red-shouldered Hawk screaming its lungs off. Several branches below I saw the object of its fury; a Red-tailed Hawk was trying its best to ignore the invectives being hurled against its presence.
Occasionally, the Red-shouldered, unable to control its contempt for (what I assumed to be) the intruder, would take a swipe at the bigger hawk. Despite these brazen attacks, the Red-tailed managed to maintain its cool. Realizing that it was not making any progress in its attempts to dislodge the interloper from its perch, the smaller buteo shrugged its red-shoulders and flew off.
I almost applauded at the end of this drama I just witnessed. Too bad I didn't bring my videocamera along..and I wasn't able to take a shot of the attacks..I was just too absorbed at watching the whole scenario unfold before my amused eyes.
My 30 mile trip was worth it in the end.
23 hours ago