Monday, December 08, 2008

I for an Eye

Henderson, Nevada. November 25, 2005
Our family was celebrating Thanksgiving at Las Vegas. My wife and I decided to do some morning birding at the Henderson Water Treatment Plant. It was here that we got our first, albeit quite distant, glimpse of the Common Goldeneye.

San Dimas, California. November 25, 2008
As a birder/photographer there are certain species of birds that would lay dormant in the inner recesses of my mind. That vision would remain unperturbed until certain news that involved that particular species would awake that memory from its heretofore undisturbed slumber. The Common Goldeneye was one such species.

Three years later on the exact same date, I was at Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park (my wife was at work at the time) to look for the Common Goldeneye that was reported seen here just the day before. But as luck (or in this case, bad luck) would have it, the Goldeneyes - there were supposed to be a pair - were nowhere to be found.

Playa del Rey, California. December 6, 2008
Once again spurred by reports of Common Goldeneyes (again, a pair) sightings at the Del Rey Lagoon, my wife and I were at that place bright and early. It was a beautiful day, the sun smiling gaily on a nippy morning. We saw a couple of photographers by the lagoon's edge firing away at a raft of ducks at the west end. We were on the other side from where they were but we couldn't contain our curiosity and decided to investigate. As we moved closer to the shoreline, I immediately noticed a duck slightly different from the male and female Buffleheads swimming closely together. The male Common Goldeneye! I managed to get off a few shots at it before it flew off towards the Ballona Channel. We took off after it but failed to relocate the bird.

It was still early so Cynthia and I went to the southernmost jetty where we encountered a bunch of Surfbirds and Least Sandpipers. Then there was a lone Black Turnstone and a Wandering Tattler that allowed me some real close shots. My wife and I decided earlier that she will not do any photography this time and that I will be the one using "her" usual gear - the 30D with the 100-400 zoom combo. She will just be my "morale-booster" in case we dipped on the Goldeneye.

We were returning to our Jeep when we met our birding pal, Tom Starcic. We were talking shop when a couple of birders informed us that the Common Goldeneye was seen again at the Channel, "just five feet from the rocky shore". All three of us hurriedly went to the trail above the Channel and after a few hits and misses we were able to relocate it.
Cynthia and I still have some chores and errands to do and since we have gotten some pretty good shots of the Goldeneye, we bade Tom farewell.

The Solitary Sandpiper has taken the Goldeneye's place in hibernating at the back of my mind.


mick said...

Its interesting to read about the birds we don't have down here in Australia - like the Goldeneye - but also interesting to hear that you saw a Wandering Tattler, which is a vagrant down here but I did see a couple of them last year.

Anonymous said...

Here along the coast of WA State we have common and barrow's goldeneyes during the winter months. I find them to be very pretty birds and fun to watch what they bring up from their foraging dives.

Cheers to the beauty of wildlife.

Heidi said...

How fun to see what you were seeking! The Goldeneye is a beautiful bird. Great flying shot of it!