We arrived at the park early enough - about 8:30 am and immediately followed Felicia Lee's instructions on where our target birds were last seen. The place seemed birdy enough as we got a Hutton's Vireo right off the bat. It was then that a dog came bounding towards us. Unleashed. With the owner nowhere in sight. "Wasn't there a sign at the entrance where it says all dogs must be on a leash?" I asked rhetorically. To our consternation that wasn't the only incident. Throughout the whole morning wave upon wave of unleashed canines traversed our paths, sometimes followed by their owners talking in voices loud enough to be heard in San Diego, I thought.
Sightings of MacGillivray's Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers, Warbling Vireos and colorful Western Tanagers failed to lift up my spirit as we dipped badly on the objects of our visit to this place. At noontime we feasted on the ham sandwiches and coke that we brought. The need for a bathroom necessitated that we go to San Joaquin Wildlife Santuary a few minutes away. (How can this park not have a bathroom? Oh, that's right, this place is for the dogs...)
Birding San Joaquin in the middle of the day is really bad timing, we soon discovered, even in the midst of spring migration. The only consolation we got was an Ash-throated Flycatcher trying quite unsuccessfully to have lunch. Our experience here can be summed up by the expression of this male Cinnamon Teal.
Around 2 pm we tried the Back Bay at Upper Newport and scored a big fat zero. Even the usual place where tons of terns, peeps, and skimmers used to hang out was empty except for a couple of coots.
On the way home, a late sortie at Eaton Canyon also brought in blanks on our photo disks.
My wife, noticing the expression on my face as we got home, reminded me that we still saw some interesting birds despite missing the ones we sought after.
"You always see the glass half-empty", she said.
"You mean there was a glass?", was my reply