Monday, March 02, 2009

"I have always depended on the kindness of birders." *

I am by no means an expert birder. I can get by in identifying the more common birds we encounter on our birding trips. I mean I don't think I will ever make the mistake of calling a Vermillion Flycatcher a Summer Tanager. But tiny sparrows, those darn empids, peeps, and of course, gulls, are another story.

My other "handicap" in birding is that I'm not good at locating birds. I would read on a yahoo listserv, for example, that an unusual bird was seen on the left side of a creek that runs north to south and is frequenting the flowering mulberry bush next to the bridge. I would get to the general vicinity but would never find the bridge, much less the mulberry bush.

And so, a lot of times, I depend on the kindness of other birders to either identify a bird for me or take me to the location of a target bird, or both. Then there are those glory days when a birder would offer to do such things for me and my wife without us even asking for it. "Angels", my wife calls these people.

Such was the case Saturday when we went to Santiago Oaks Regional Park in Orange County to look for the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker as posted in Neil Gilbert's blog. Despite the precise directions given by Neil, we could not find our target bird. We were about to give up after three hours of searching and was getting ready to go home when we met Jim Rowe. Almost nonchalantly he asked if we have seen the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. When we replied in the negative, he graciously offered to take us where it usually hangs out. Sure enough, it was there as if summoned by the power of a kind birder to wait and show itself to a couple of "lost" seekers.

Earlier, in our meanderings around the park ,we got a photo of what we first thought as an empid, possibly the Pacific Slope Flycatcher that Neil mentioned in his blog. I sent that picture to Neil for verification and he very nicely pointed out that the bird we saw was actually a Hutton's Vireo. It may not be the flycatcher we hoped for, but the vireo was also a very welcome addition to our year list which at the end of February stood at 168 species seen. Not a bad tally and we owe most of them to the kindness and helpfulness of fellow birders like Jim and Neil, among others.

Note: Since the beginning of the year, I have adapted my blog titles from famous movie quotes and movie titles. This blog will be the last (maybe) to do so. Frankly, my dear, I'm running out of ideas. :-P

* A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951


Anonymous said...

Having often used assistance like you describe, I thought I had the chance to reciprocate the other day. Some birders where out on a spot I knew had a rare bird. They glanced it over and when I hurried to catch up with them, they clearly moved away deliberately. To me that sharing of experience is so much of what makes birding a great hobby.

Jason Bugay Reyes a.k.a horukuru said...

Hehehe nice writing Bob and lovely pictures too !

mick said...

Nice photos and a very interesting post. I agree that without friends and other birders the learning process would be much slower - and so much less fun!

Anonymous said...

Nice photos!

It happens to all of us. How wonderful to have someone help you in your search.

Wisconsin Birder said...

It is so true, birding seems to bring out the best in most. Terrific photos and story.

Kim said...

Your post sounds excatly like what I go through every week. I can't ever seem to find anything on my Listserv.

Wonderful photos.

Neil said...

Great post. good to have help along the way.

Vickie said...

You know, there are so many birds to learn, it is always great to have someone nearby that knows more. For me, its fairly easy to that at this point!

Nice photos. The last is a new one for me.

Mel said...

Birders rock!!
I have little knowledge on birds, but I'm learning, and there's always a great birder friend with a helping hand.
BTW, the last photo is beautiful!

Anonymous said...

I must agree that fellow birders are some of the least selfish people I know. Always willing to help.

Great capture of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Bob and I identify with your frustration with the empids!

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of bird angels. When we hike long distance trails, kind strangers are called trail angels who offer food, water, or a place to stay.

Nice Photos. Your Vireo is really cute.

When we were in California this time around we didn't get to see any condors. We have seen them in the past at Big Sur soaring along the coastal ridgeline. They were both banded too.

Happy birding.

troutbirder said...

Very clever and great pictures. Thanks!