It was pouring cats and dogs last Saturday. This was the kind of weather that Los Angeles very seldom experiences. And the kind of weather that will not deter a birder with a grim determination. It was almost halfway in the month of December and I want.., no, I need, to rack up my year list. It has been my resolve at the beginning of 2009 to keep a year list. For the simple reason that this will be my last full year of birding in America. Early next year my wife and I will retire to the Philippines - a difficult decision for me - but that was the only way we can survive with our meager pensions.
And so when I learned that a Hooded Merganser was sighted at Almansor Park I thought that it would be a welcome addition to my list, rainy day notwithstanding. Almansor is practically in my neighborhood, a tiny park with a pond in the city of Alhambra. When I broached the idea of going there to my wife, she agreed without even a hint of hesitation. As long as we go shopping afterwards.
Braving the pouring rain we treaded across the muddy, squishy grassy area to get to the ponds. At first all we saw were scads of American Wigeons who were so accustomed to people you can almost step on them. Then there were the Mandarin and Wood Ducks both stunning in color despite being wet.
There was even a Snow Goose mingling among the local geese population!
Not finding our quarry on the north pond, we once again walked over the squishiest, muckiest grassy area towards the south pond. And there, completely oblivious of the downpour were four, count 'em, four, female Hooded Mergansers! I wondered if the male of the species are rain-phobic, because it is interesting to have four females frolicking and not a single male. But I'm happy to add another species to my year list.
Now to do some really serious shopping.....
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