"You put your lips together and go psssh!”
Well, no matter how I tried, my pishing efforts were never successful. Last year I bought Pete Dunne’s “The Art of Pishing” which included a CD of how correct pishing sounds like. I followed all his instructions, from plain pishing to imitating the sound of an owl. All that happened was that the front of my shirt became drenched from all that spewing from my lips.
Last Monday at San Joaquin Wildlife Santuary in Irvine, through my feeble attempts at pishing, I tried to coax the following to show themselves out in the open: a Common Yellowthroat, a Marsh Wren and a few Song Sparrows. Yes, I did the “pssssh!” sound and the “lu-lu-lu-lu!” of an owl. No response. I saw some fluttering behind the tall reeds, but that’s about it. Thankfully I was the only one there, otherwise people might get curious why I was so frantically wiping off my binoculars which was hanging from my neck.
So I moved on. Catching a glimpse of some movement behind a tall brush, I took a deep breath and was about so burst forth in an ear-splitting pish when an Anna’s Hummingbird suddenly alit on a branch just a few feet away. It stared curiously at me and then flashed me with the most gorgeous shining gorget I have ever seen.
Satisfied that it succeeded in preventing me from puckering my lips and making a fool of myself, the tiny angel of a bird flew off.
Things got a lot better after that. Rounding a corner, I was surprised to see a Northern Harrier perched on a bare branch. At about 30 feet, that was the closest I was able to get to this raptor species.
The ponds were full of ducks and all three species of Teals were well represented: Blue-winged,
After lunch, I visited Bolsa Chica and easily refound the White-winged Scoter. This time it was much closer and I got even better shots than the last time.
* To Have and Have Not, 1944
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