I came. I saw. I left. That basically summed up my experience in finding my latest lifer - an immature male King Eider at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro.
But that story doesn't include the initial hemming and hawing I did the night before. I told my wife that if I had my druthers, I would not want to go through the experience of a horrendous weekday rush-hour traffic at the 110.
"Don't you realize that the 110 goes through downtown Los Angeles?" I told my wife. "Not only that, it also carries a lot of traffic going to the airport." I pointed out emphatically.
"But wouldn't it be great to add the Eider to your year-list, not to mention your life-list?", she said encouragingly.
And so it was with gritty determination that I got into the 110 onramp Tuesday morning, conditioning myself to endure the snail pace traffic I knew would happen as soon as I hit Chinatown.
It didn't happen. It was smooth sailing from South Pasadena to San Pedro, taking me just about 45 minutes to get to my destination. It could have been even shorter had I dared go beyond the 70 mph speed limit (which most of my fellow drivers did anyhow).
When I got into the fishing pier where the sightings were made, I noticed the birders/photographers who were already there chatting idly as if trying to pass away a certain degree of ennui. When I asked the inevitable "Have you seen it?", I was directed at the raft of Surf Scoters bobbing about a hundred feet away from the pier. "It's there.", was the succinct, seemingly nonchalant reply.
Soon enough a brown bird with a yellow bill separated itself from the scoter flock and swam toward the pier. As if awakened from some self-induced stupor, the photographers, to a man, suddenly pointed their cameras toward the oncoming eider. I, of course, followed suit. Just as suddenly all commotion ceased when the bird swam under the pier and away from view. Everyone then reverted back to idle chit-chat. This off-and-on scenario was repeated several times over the course of about an hour, after which everyone decided they had their fill of the King Eider and left. Surprisingly, I too, felt the same. Pointing the eider to the newly arrived batch of birders and photographers, and happy that I have passed the good deed forward, I left. After paying the $1 parking fee, I had an overwhelming feeling of being like a king where everything happened the way I wanted it to happen. And knowing that I have just gotten the best value for a buck I ever spent.
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