There are those days in birding when you see a species that a) you're not really looking for and b) you don't expect to find out in the open on a hot morning.
It started out quite inauspiciously as we started out at Pond C at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine. Spread along the water's edge where a bunch of photographers brandishing a wide array of camera equipment all of which were trained at some avocets nonchalantly going about their business. When we returned three hours later, the same photographers were still at it, steadfast in their desire to capture the avocets doing their "thing". You know, the "thing" that avocets in particular, and birds in general, do in spring to ensure the perpetuation of their species.
Cynthia and I, on the other hand, preferred to roam around and see what birds are available to be photographed (aside from romantically-inclined avocets). And it was at the adjoining pond, Pond D, that we had a serendipituous encounter with a bird seldom seen in the open. The Sora. At first it was just a single bird, cautiously venturing away from the protective covering of the reeds. Soon it was calmly feeding on the muddy soil. Sensing the confidence this bird had on its surroundings, two more Soras emerged from hiding and frolicked at the farther end of the pond.
It must have been a holiday in the Sora calendar because after meandering around the sanctuary until noon, the Sora (this time it was by itself) was still at it, unmindful of the scorching weather. When we reported our sightings at the Nature Center, Pat Thelen, a new birder (he started only about six months ago) got excited and wanted to see the bird as it will be a lifer for him. We gladly took him to Pond D. Our hearts sank because the Sora was no longer there. But then, after a while, it reappeared albeit at the other end of the pond. Pat got good looks nonetheless and was so ecstatic at getting a life bird.
It was also quite a fruitful day for us. Aside from the Soras, we saw seven species of warblers: (Orange-crowned, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Gray, Wilsons, Nashville, Yellow and Hermit!) and a couple of Vireos (Hutton's and Warbling). Today's birding foray upped our yearlist to 240.
And oh, here's a gratuitous shot of an Avocet, sans l'amour…