Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ay-yay-yay, no eye

The report that a pair of Common Goldeneyes were seen at Bonelli Regional Park perked my interest. You will recall that we dipped badly on this species last Saturday at Big Bear. So off to Bonelli I went (Cynthia is at work) Tuesday morning. The day started out glorious - blue skies and just enough nippiness in the air that invigorates the lungs.

I immediately proceeded to the eastern shore and scanned the lake with my binoculars. Nothing but Mallards, Western Grebes and hundreds of Coots. A pair each of Canada and White-fronted Geese were just waking up as I walked closer to the water's edge. A Killdeer scampered ahead of me. But no wintering ducks! I turned my attention to the land birds. There was a small puddle by the roadside where Yellow-rumps, American Goldfinches, Dark-eyed Juncos and an occasional Western Bluebird would take a drink.

At the easternmost point next to the parking area, a Great Blue Heron and a Snowy Egret were trying to overcome their frozen inertia. A Belted Kingfisher and an Osprey on the other hand, have begun their quest for an early morning meal.

I walked along the lakeside going west accompanied by skiterring Least Sandpipers. Around the bend, I finally saw some Redheads bathing! Further into the open, Western Grebes stretched their necks and legs while Ruddy Ducks slept. Four Eared Grebes went swimming by.

But still no Goldeneyes.

I decided to drive to the western side of the lake and I was turning into the main road, I was completely surprised to see a Roadrunner! I stopped the Jeep, flashe my emergency lights on, opened the window on my side and grabbed my camera gear. Fortunately, I decided to bring my big 500mm telephoto lens for this trip anticipating that the ducks would be at quite a distance offshore. Praying that the lens' Image Stability capabilities would work, as I was handholding the camera and trembling with excitement, I took a bunch of shots at the roadrunner. Eventually it took off and hid among the bushes.

I stopped by restroom # 8 to see if the Painted Redstart still inhabits the tree across. The black-and-red warbler has obviously gone to warmer climes for it was quiet as a cemetery there. There was however, a Merlin perched silently high up a pine tree.

I continued to the west side parking lot and hauled my gear to the lakeside. This time a Spotted Sandpiper came bobbing towards me, totally unmindful of my presence. Once again scanning the lake with my binoculars, I saw Lesser and Greater Scaups together offering excellent opportunities to compare one species from the other.

But still no Goldeneyes.

The beautiful morning soon turned into overcast skies and a few drops of rain forebode a wet afternoon.

I will have to "live another day" in my search for the Goldeneye. (Oh no, not another James Bond theme!)


Anonymous said...

I like your Western Grebe stretching its leg back. I like photos where you can see the tension being released. It was also fun to see your Kingfisher with a fish. Its so hard to get close to them sometimes.

Tabib said...

Beautiful birds!
Good catch for bird and birder.