Friday, February 08, 2008

E.C. does it

I refrained from birding after my frustrating experience with the Lewis' Woodpecker at Chesebro Canyon last Thursday. Any other time I would have been happy garnering two lifers in half a day's birding. But coming from a thirty-plus list from our Texas trip and getting pictures of most of them despite really gloomy, overcast weather conditions, Thursday's sightings were a bit of a letdown. The weather was gorgeously perfect, yet the darn woodpecker wouldn't stay still for at least one good photo op.

And now, here I am, a week into February without having gone to even a single birding sortie. I needed a fix, fast. Thankfully, there's always Eaton Canyon in Pasadena. It is close enough for a "quickie" birding. You know, that kind needed to alleviate the "itch". Let me go on record here that there is absolutely no double-entendre intended in my last sentence.

The day augured well when after dropping off Cynthia at her office, the trees next to the parking lot at Carl's Jr., which is just a block away, was peppered by a flock of Red-crowned Parrots raucously calling at each other. I quickly parked the jeep and took several shots of the parrots' antics.

Elated, I drove on to Eaton Canyon. Immediately, I moseyed over to the back of the Visitor's Center where the feeders were. The first thing that caught my attention was the unusual stripings on the back of a brown bird. Binoculars confirmed what I suspected all along: A White-throated Sparrow - an uncommon species.

For the next two hours I got reacquainted with the usual denizens of the park; Lesser Goldfinches were hanging like fruits from a sycamore tree, White-crowned Sparrows, spotted Towhees and California Thrashers were scratching the ground in search of food.

A tapping above me revealed a female Nuttall's Woodpecker looking for her kind of breakast. A White-breasted Nuthatch flew from tree trunk to tree trunk.

After a couple of hours my need for birding had been fulfilled. On my way to the parking lot, I saw a big, reddish bunch of feathers up a sycamore tree. A Hawk! At first I thought it was the commoner Cooper's but when I peered through my binoculars, I realized it was a Red-shouldered - the first time I've seen this species here at Eaton Canyon. That was the icing on my birding cake!

Once again, Eaton Canyon did it. The place very seldom disappoints. Even when there are dogs and noisy children running around. You may not see rarities all the time, but there will always be something to satisfy your avian cravings.
Or at least be serenaded by a Hermit Thrush.

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