When the sun finally broke through, my wife insisted that we go out "just here in Pasadena" so that I won't have to worry about gasoline expenses. "And, remember, don't expect to find any rare birds, OK?" she warned.
We started off at Hahamongna (a weird name for a park, but it had American Indian origins). The oak groves were quite abuzz with Bewick's Wrens all of which stayed well away from any photographic venues. "What bird is that with a white eyebrow?" Cynthia asked. "Bewick's Wren", I replied. "No, the feathers of this one are black and white." I asked her where she saw this mysterious bird and after a few misses, I finally located a Black-throated Gray Warbler flitting directly above us.
We then explored the lower trails where the "pi-PIT-kan" of a California Quail intrigued us. As we rounded a bend, I was surprised to find the calling quail high up in a eucalyptus tree. Normally these are birds that skulk in the underbrush so finding one in a tree and not flying off as we approached was quite unusual.
Other than House Finches we did not find anything else. On the way back, Cynthia saw a flash of yellow and black landing on a sycamore. We hoped that it would be our FOS (First of Season) Hooded Oriole. Patient waiting revealed it to be a Western Tanager instead which was still a thrill.
To our joy, not far from it a female Black-headed Grosbeak was enjoying a snack.
At around 5pm we proceeded to Eaton Canyon where we saw the usual suspects. An Acorn Woodpecker posed beautifully for us.
As we approached the "drip" another birder/photographer was already there taking pictures of Bushtits taking a bath. "I know this guy", I told my wife. Just then he turned and gave us a big smile. Kevin Kao is a regular visitor at Eaton Canyon. We met him last year when there was a proliferation of migrants here. We spent the next half hour or so discussing birds and birding. He bade goodbye soon after and Cynthia and I then tried to look for the Canyon Wren. We dipped on that. On the return trail, I saw a dark bird with white spots on the underwings flutter nearby. "Phainopepla!" I yelled. It turned out to be our last bird of the day, as dusk was soon upon us.
"How do you feel now?" Cynthia asked as we drove home.
"Much better," I replied.
"We got lucky on the quail, didn't we?"
"Yes, we did."
"The Western Tanager and the Grosbeak were nice, too."
"Yes, they were."
"C'mon, admit it. It's a lot better if you don't have high expectations, right?"
"Right", I said smiling.