Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Oh, dog! (and other expressions of exasperation)

 I should have learned my lesson long time ago. The lesson being not to have high expectations when we go on our birding/photography trips. Stubborn as I am, we headed to Canyon Park in Costa Mesa with the lofty hopes of seeing (and of course, photographing) a Hermit Warbler and a Lazuli Bunting. (My wife was the more pragmatic type - content at enjoying whatever species we encounter - the perfect trait of a birder).

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

1 comment:

Felicia said...

I'm bummed that you missed out on the Hermit and Lazuli, but it's great that you got a McGillivray's Warbler--I've been trying in vain to find one for the past few weeks! And you got one without even wanting to--wow.

I guess I should have warned you about the lack of restroom facilities at Canyon Park--it can be a great place for birds, but resist the urge to down a triple latte before heading out...