Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wing and a Prayer

My continuing endeavor to add to my yearlist brought me to places I have never been before. One of those places was Veteran's Park in Sylmar. This is not one of those areas where birders congregate on a regular basis. And when I got there I understood why. Despite having a lot of trees - and a great variety at that - it was quite un-birdy (if there is such a word). I can't believe that even after an hour I have not seen a single bird...not even the ubiquitous Black Phoebe or those ever-present winter birds, the Yellow-rumps. Only a couple of Ravens did a fly-over, croaking as they went.

The reason I was at this place was because a Williamson's Sapsucker was seen here. The directions given in the Yahoo groups posting was so precise it was impossible not to locate the tree where the Sapsucker supposedly feeds. I did find that particular pine tree but the fabled bird was nowhere to be seen. An hour and a half slowly went by and I was at the point of giving up. I sat at a nearby picnic table and I prayed. I prayed that my trip to this place would not have been futile and that I will see the Williamson's Sapsucker which would not only add to my year list but would be a lifer even. With a sigh I stood up and picked up my backpack (which contains my camera gear) when I heard a flap of wings. That in itself is a miracle because I am a bit hearing impaired. But I did hear a flap of wings and when I turned around to follow the sound I saw a flash of black and white alight at the aforementioned pine tree. With bated breath I withdrew my camera gear from my backpack (which seemed to take forever) and ran to the tree. There tap-tapping on the bark was my Williamson's! I took a hundred shots and even a short video of my lifer as it just remained in that particular tree engrossed in seeking its sustenance from the oozing sap.


Thankful for finding my life bird and having had my fill of photographing, videographing and simply watching, I walked slowly to the parking lot. Only to be surprised by the presence of birds! Whereas this place was as quiet as a library a couple of hours earlier, now it was jumping with American Robins, Western Bluebirds, Dark-eyed Juncos (including one which I believed to be of a Pink-sided variety) and of course, Black Phoebes and Yellow-rumps.

Still having some time to spare I decided to visit Placerita Canyon which was not that far from Veterans Park. At the canyon I had close encounters with two White-throated Sparrows! Although I have seen these early this year (and no longer needed for my year list) I was quite happy to watch this uncommon species once again. Although both were mingling with the Golden-crowned Sparrows, the two individuals I saw were from different locations and both afforded me some good looks and photographic opportunities.


7 comments:

Johnny Nutcase said...

great photos! and congrats on the lifer! I'm glad your trip turned out all right. there's a place here that has had a handful of strange birds...it's a scary old overgrown parking lot. we've been twice and every time,nothing's there. reminded me of your story :)

NicoleB said...

Reading your post makes me happy.
Sometimes Mother nature has some odd ways of answering our prayers, but usually she listens :)
I always thank her (and the birds or other wildlife) when I'm able to take pictures.

Your shots are great catches!
Never seen neither one species :)

Tabib said...

Great lifer there.
Congratulation!

Kelly said...

Wow! What a relief...I'm glad all your waiting paid off and you got your bird, and what a pretty fellow too. Another lifer, congrats! I also liked your photo of the White-throated Sparrow...such sweet little birds!

Jann said...

How awesome!

Richard King said...

That is one beautiful sparrow!

Wren said...

I love happy endings - so much nicer than stories of "the one that got away"

Plus, we get to see some of your great photos.