Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sun Scorching and Soul Searching

I had a couple of days off to rest. And so on Saturday, Apr. 28th, we drove the 120-odd miles to the Big Morongo Valley Nature Reserve. It was foggy when we left South Pasadena at 6 am. It was a tad windy when we had our usual stop-over at Cabazon for breakfast at McDonalds. When we parked at Big Morongo a little after 8 am, something just didn't feel right. There were already quite a number of birders making the rounds of the various trails. We thought that it was the unusual density of human beings that somehow upped the ground temperature.

We started off going clockwise on the Marsh trail, spotting a Verdin and some noisy Bewick's Wrens. Luckily, most of the birders were already on the way out, presumably to more productive (and more pleasant) environments. Even then, although we saw a number of birds, they were mostly hidden among the leaves and never venturing out in the open, much to our frustration. All along the trail, we could hear the maddening chatter of the Yellow-breasted Chat. But the large warbler, despite it's yellow color might as well be invisible. I finally got a shot at him, but it's not something to crow about.
We got glimpses, and really bad shots, of the colorful Tanagers (Western and Summer). As we returned to the shed at the beginning of the trail, we noticed the temperature reading 95 degrees and it was only about 10 am. It would go even higher at midday.

After resting and a quick lunch of hotdog sandwiches, we explored nearby Covington park. It was not very birdy - only a few warblers and the resident Vermillion Flycatcher was there and he was not as cooperative as before.

At around 4 pm, we decided to give the Marsh trail one more try, still hoping to get better views of the birds. A couple of Ash-throated Flycatchers were busy hawking flying insects out in the open. I pity these birds, having to endure the intense heat of the afternoon sun, just so they can eat. Even the seed-eating (and therefore less active) House Finches were panting.

We took the hint and called it day. Just as we were approaching the parking lot, Mr. and Mrs. Gambel's Quail paraded in front of us.

As we were driving home, thoughts played in my head. Am I getting too old for this? It seems that I now tire a lot more. I think carrying about 20 lbs of camera gear over my 60-year old frame over park trails is starting to take its toll on my body. I need to do some serious planning in the coming weeks.

No comments: