Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Something to be Prado

When my wife asked me on Friday where we are going to go birding on Saturday, I said Morongo. Saturday morning, I had a change of mind. Not only was it overcast, the thought of driving 130 miles one way at current gasoline prices made me decide to try Prado Dam instead.

Driving along the 210 freeway, I pointed to Cynthia the sign that starting today, April 5th there will be a Rennaisance Faire at Santa Fe Dam, one of our regular birding destinations. No good birding there with all those people, I explained to my wife. Approaching the entrance booth of Prado Dam, we were dismayed to notice that the park will host a Civil War Reenactment that very day.

"Not to mention a Boy Scouts camp-out", the Park Ranger informed us when we asked about the event. Despite our chagrin, we decided to bird the place anyway rather than consume more gasoline searching for an alternate venue.

We were even more crushed when we discovered the boy scouts' camp was exactly at the area where the Vermillion Flycatchers make their home.

"There goes our $7", I sadly told Cynthia, referring to the entrance fee to the park.
We were walking back forlornly to where the Jeep was parked when I saw a birder/photographer training his binoculars on a tall sycamore.

"Anything interesting?" I asked.

"Nah", he replied, "just some Yellow-rumps."

He introduced himself and said he would try locating the Least Bitterns. I thought that it would be a good idea to tag along with him. Least Bitterns would be a lifer for us, we told him. Thus began a very interesting morning with Bill Deppe. We learned that he was the one who discovered the Crested Caracara at the Mojave Narrows (He resides in Apple Valley) a very rare species to be found in California. Despite dipping on the bitterns, the disappointment at being to able to bird Prado Dam to the hilt, and the gray skies, Bill's pleasant company was a total redemption.

After we parted ways (Bill said he would try birding elsewhere) we tried the area closest to the entrance, and surprisingly with the least number of people.

I was shooting at anything with feathers while Cynthia patiently stalked a Marsh Wren when I caught a glimpse of yellow fly overhead. It landed on a tree a few feet away. "Oriole!" I shouted. For the next hour or so, my wife and I devoted our time chasing and trying to get a decent shot of a very colorful Bullock's Oriole. It wasn't easy since the bird was constantly moving and the gloomy weather wasn't helping either.

In the end, patience and persistence paid off. We finally got something to be proud of.

1 comment:

Mel said...

WOW!! How beautiful pictures!!
All that time paid off indeed!
Great blog, I just found you and I'll visit often :)