Hoping to rack up a few more lifers before the year ends, Cynthia and I visited the South Coast Botanic Garden in Palos Verdes. Our target was the Thick-billed Kingbird that has been reported there. We were concerned that the rain and cold spell just two days ago would drive the Kingbird to more pleasant weather conditions.
As we approached the small pond, Cynthia's outstanding hearing prowess immediately located the bird puffed up high in a sycamore (it was very cold that Saturday morning). It was a bit too high for our camera lenses but we tried to take its picture nonetheless. We both agreed that if we hiked to the berm we might be able to get a better look at our quarry. As soon as we got to the berm, the kingbird flew off, destination unknown. The LACounty birding listserv reported that the Thick-bill would occasionally visit the trees close to the bridge over the stream. I suggested to Cynthia that we go look for that bridge and maybe we might be able to relocate our lifer.
Descending towards the bridge we spotted another birder/photographer who was already aiming his camera at the tree tops. Just as we approached, the Kingbird flew off. The birder/photographer turned out to be Steve Wolfe whom we met before when the Mississippi Kite was sighted (by him originally) here. We told Steve where we first saw the bird and all three of us went back there hoping it had returned to its original perch. Apparently it didn't and after several minutes of waiting, Steve said he would go back to the bridge while Cynthia and I would go around the lake to scout the area.
We eventually got back to the bridge where once again Cynthia's ears picked up the bird further east. Just like before it was way up at the top of another sycamore. Steve showed up and as we were pointing the bird to him, it flew. This time it landed much closer to us. And while all three of us were taking advantage of the kingbird's proximity, another bird landed just beneath the Thick-billed Kingbird. At that time we dismissed it as either a goldfinch or one the more common species that calls the garden home. It was when I was uploading our pictures that I noticed that it was actually a young Bullock's Oriole. Though not as rare as the Thick-billed, it is also not a very common species particularly this time of year.
Having had some satisfactory shots of our 88th lifer of the year, we bade goodbye to Steve. On the way home visions of Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich) danced above our heads. Guess what we had for lunch?
Avian And Attributes – Captain
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