In the beginning was darkness. Gray clouds blanketed the early morning skies. Undeterred, two birders were on the go. Our mission - of which we were deadset to accomplish - was to observe the Yellow-throated Vireo at Huntington Central Park in Orange County. It will be a daunting task, we both agreed – the subject bird being quite small, greenish, constantly on the move and frequents the canopies of tall trees.
It was still gloomy when we arrived. Icy breezes sent chills that seemed to penetrate our very being. People and their dogs were everywhere. Another reason not to raise our expectations of ever seeing the vireo. A hundred yards into the park and we saw three birders all looking up at the towering trees.
“Have you seen the vireo?” Cynthia asked one of them.
“It’s here”, he said, pointing to the top of a tree before them.
Then she heard it. Soon we were getting glimpses of the hyperactive bird. Finally it flew across the paved trails and landed on the leafless branch of a shorter tree. We got looks and were even able to take some frustratingly bad photographs of it.
For us it all happened within fifteen minutes of our arrival. That was to be the best luck we would have all day. Another target bird, the Gull-billed Tern, was a no-show at the Upper Newport Bay area. A visit at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary would have been a complete disaster were it not for a pair of Egyptian Geese nonchalantly munching some grass at Pond E. Even the Red-breasted Sapsucker that birder friend, Pat Thelen, said he saw earlier at Pond 4 seemed to have vanished into thin air.
When we were approaching the parking lot, the sycamore tree next to it yielded in quick succession: a Western Wood Peewee, a Pacific Slope Flycatcher and what appeared to be some kind of Vireo, probably a Warbling. None of which stayed long enough for a chance to be included in our photographic archives.
In the end there was light and the sun was shining brightly, but for us our birding day was over. It was time to return to the more mundane things in life. Like having lunch.