Friday, October 19, 2007

Thrush your Instinct

After driving my wife to work I went birding at Eaton Canyon. Gasoline prices being prohibitive as it was (more than $3 a gallon!), I thought it would be wise to go someplace near. Eaton Canyon is not exactly my favorite birding place because almost always there'll be noisy hikers and people walking their dogs. But then again, those were on weekends, so hopefully I won't encounter these distractions today.

The place was quiet when I arrived. A quick look-around resulted in zero bird sightings. Of course, there were little old ladies walking their little old pooches. I sighed in desperation as walked back to the Jeep. Just as I was putting back my gear, a movement under the bushes in front of me caught my eye. Grabbing my camera, I chased after a California Thrasher but it dove under a thicket and promptly vanished. It's a sign, I thought to myself. My instinct says I will find birds here while my impatience argued against staying. The morning is still young so I decided to follow my instincts.

It wasn't long when I saw my first bird - a White-crowned Sparrow enjoying a breakfast of seeds. Then it was as if a fog was lifted, for now I see birds at places where there were none before! At a small clearing next to a low stone fence, a group of Juncos, Sparrows and Butterbutts were busy feeding on the leaf covered ground. Most of them flew away as I approached. I sat still on the stone fence hoping they would return. They didn't. Only the Yellow-rumped did and while I was watching it's insect-hunting antics, I noticed a small brown bird with longish, thin legs fly in. It hopped on a rock and surveyed the surroundings as if some feathered royal staking his claim on this piece of land. It was a Hermit Thrush - considered America's best songbird. It gave me some good photo ops, seemingly enjoying the attention it was getting from me. I wished it sang for me though.

It was 10:30 when three busloads of pre-school children arrived for what I gathered to be a school nature field trip. As for me, my trip was now over.

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