Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Owl Be Seeing You

The morning was bright and sunny at last. Time to go on an owl-chase. The LA County listserv provided excellent, precise directions on how to locate the Spotted Owl in Placerita Canyon. Using that as my guide, I proceeded to the Waterfalls Trail. A couple of minutes in and I knew it was going to be a yikes! hike. Narrow and sometimes steep paths challenged my unaccustomed 61-and-a-half years old legs. Sheer determination and frequent stops to catch my breath finally brought me to the spot. I craned my neck searching each and every branch of the adler trees that towered over the tiny stream. My heart was beginning to sink and was on the brink of total disappointment (oh no, not again!) when I noticed a brown fluff partly hidden among the leaves. Of course it was facing away from me! But when I did a really bad imitation of an owl call, it begrudgingly looked my way. The photograph I took won't win any award but at least it documented my latest lifer.

The return trip was much easier being mostly downhill. As I trodded on the dirt road towards the parking lot (another uphill battle), I saw scads of Black-headed Grosbeaks in various stages of plumage. A young Lazuli Bunting also made a brief appearance. Unfortunately, the birds there were so skittish that they would fly away at the slightest movement. Earlier, on my way in, I saw a pair of Lawrence Goldfinces which promptly flew away as soon as I laid my eyes upon them.

It was still early so I decided to stop by Placerita Canyon Nature Park. As soon as I got off the Jeep, a Bullock's Oriole flew in and landed on a bare branch in front of me.

Along the trail behind the nature center I got some fleeting views of a Wilson's Warbler and a Western Tanager. At the picnic area, the grounds were jumping with Spotted Towhees and Oak Titmice. A House Wren was guarding it's home.
A pair of Western Bluebirds were busy hawking insects by the bridge. A little after 11 am, I decided to call it a day. As I was about to get in the Jeep, an Ash-throated Flycatcher alit on the same tree where I saw the oriole earlier. What a welcome and farewell!

I felt good about my birding sortie that I decided to reward myself with an Angus Burger combo at McDonalds.

That's owl, folks!

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