Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mission Accomplished

"Your mission should you decide to accept it is to locate and photograph the Bay-breasted Warbler seen at Whitter Narrows Recreation Area. Should fog or any misdirection of locale prevent you from accomplishing this mission, bird photographers all over Southern California will disavow any knowledge of you and your equipment."

After my failure to locate the bird last Friday and my decision not to chase after it during the weekend, I went back to Whittier Narrows Monday morning to try my luck at seeing, and maybe getting a few photographs of the Bay-breasted Warbler. I arrived a little after eight am. The place was covered by thick, soupy fog. I proceeded to the area where it was last seen. Next to the fenced children's playground, construction workers have begun their work. Engine noises and men yelling disturbed the idyllic scene. Not seeing any bird activity at the nearby trees, I went back to the warmth of my Jeep and dozed on and off for about an hour.

About 9:30 am I decided to give it another try. As I approached the area I saw a birder. He said that he had not seen the Bay-breasted yet but explained that he saw it yesterday in this place as he pointed to a clump of trees. Soon we were joined by Jim Moore of the San Fernando Valley Audubon and Jeff Webster of Whittier Audubon. Jeff led us to a huge maple tree where warbler activities were beginning to pick up. Soon I saw a Hermit Warbler pop-out among the dense foliage and I informed everybody about it. Not long after, I saw the object of our hunt and enthusiastically announced my discovery to the birders present.

The fog still had not dissipated at this time and getting photographs of the rare warbler was next to impossible. As the hours passed by birders came and went, each one able to lay their eyes on our avian visitor from the east. At around 11 am, the sun finally broke through giving joy to the birder/photographers (including myself) who patiently waited for such an opportunity.

A little after 12 pm with my 2GB flash card full (95% of which were Bay-breasted Warbler shots), my hands numbing from the cold, and developing birder's neck, I called it day. I took more than 200 shots that morning. From these, only 4 were what I considered acceptable. Four was good enough. Mission accomplished.

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