Sunday, January 07, 2007

Bluebirds of Happiness

Saturday, December 23rd was sunny and bright if a little bit chilly. A perfect day for birding. Santa Fe Dam was our destination that day in response to the reports of sightings of Golden Eagles and Mountain Bluebirds, both would-be lifers for me.

But first, tradition must be satisfied. We hied over to the land of the golden arches and ordered the usual 2-for-$3 sausage and egg mcmuffins and one small cup (note size and quantity) of decaf coffee . Frugality is the order of the day.

Warmed by the is bottomless, you know..we then entered Santa Fe Dam handing $7 to the sleepy attendant. Just as we were parking I glimpsed a raptor wheeling over the lake. Even before I finshed saying, "Did you see that?" Cynthia was already rushing by the lakeside and clicking away. I, of course, have to set up my gear which took me a good 10 minutes (or so it seemed). And by the time I joined Cynthia, the bird (it was an Osprey) was flying away, not to be seen again.

The next couple of hours were spent looking for the, what I felt has become mythical, mountain bluebirds. Sure, there were plenty of birds around: Kingbirds, playing king-of-the-hill on the treetops, Juncos foraging on the grass below joined by a few Lark Sparrows. The ubiquitous Black Phoebes and Yellow-rumped Warblers were being, well, ubiquitous. The raptor fodder (a.k.a Coots) were busy being Coots. And the local Geese were begging for handouts. And yes, there were Western Bluebirds, cousins to the more rare and intriguing Mountain Bluebirds.

I was on the verge of being disappointed. The Golden Eagle was a no-show, I never had much hope for that. But the bluebirds....there were supposed be a lot of them and friendly even. Cynthia, bless her heart, suggested we give parking area # 4 one more try (we were swinging back and forth through parking lots 3 to 5). We parked there and as I sat broodingly in the jeep, Cynthia pointed to something blue flying from the ground to a tree. A different kind of blue. Mountain Bluebirds! We hit the jackpot! Needless to say, we spent the next hour or so photographing these lovely lifers.

They were indeed the bluebirds of happiness.

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