Tuesday, May 19, 2009

This Gray's Fool

It was a dark and gloomy morning. Suddenly a shot pierced the cold air.

"Did you get him?", Cynthia asked me with a bit of trepidation.

"I think I did", I answered as I showed her the picture of the wading bird that I just "shot" with my new Canon 5D Mark II camera.

I was experimenting with the automatic ISO setting of this model and the prevailing gray skies provided such an opportunity. Especially with a grayish subject as the Reddish Egret. I thought the camera performed quite well.

We were at Bolsa Chica last Saturday where we joined up with our new friend (and new birder) Pat Thelen, whom we met last month at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary.

Surprisingly it wasn't really birdy that gray morning. It seems like only the terns were active. A Snowy Plover was sheltering its young from the cool breeze that was sweeping in from the ocean, making it appear like it has three pairs of legs. We found them in the area behind the green fence (which was actually built for their protection).

As we were scanning the various birds lounging by the water's edge, Cynthia asked for the identification of one bird that seemed different from the Black-bellied Plovers and Lesser Yellowlegs that it was mingling with. The giss (general impression on size and shape) indicated that it was some sort of phalarope, although it didn't look exactly like the Wilson's or the Red-necked that I have seen before. We moved on leaving the mystery bird's ID as an inconclusive "phalarope". We walked towards the tidal gates and not seeing anything really interesting - everything appeared to be grayish - decided to call it a day. When we passed by the fenced area on our way back to the parking lot, we noticed a lot of birders peering through their binoculars and scopes.

"Must be the Snowy Plovers", I told my companions. I was surprised to see fellow blogger/birder Felicia Lee among the plover spectators. She's back from Florida and spending her summer vacation here. We were busy catching up when a couple of bird photographers arrived and asked if the Red Phalarope has been seen. Felicia then replied to them pointing to the water's edge, saying it was there.

Cynthia and I were already well on our way home, when it finally kicked in. Red Phalarope!! It was that species that we saw earlier and didn't think much of it then. Red Phalarope, a lifer for us! Red Phalarope, which I didn't even bother to take a picture of! I felt like a fool!

Here am I two days later and I'm still kicking myself.


gwendolen said...

Hahaha, wonderful funny story. Thanks so much for sharing. :-))

Kyle said...

Heh. Sorry you missed getting a shot of the phalarope, Bob, but that sure is a nice one of the Reddish Egret. That's one egret I have yet to see.

Hope you enjoy that new Canon!

Larry Jordan said...

Bob, I can't help but laugh at your predicament. How often do we see a bird of which we are not sure of the identification, sometimes even assuming that it is the "common" species for our area. Then we find out later (or never) that it was a rare or unusual bird in our location.

I have taken to photographing any bird I see that I am not sure of the ID, then looking at it later on the computer to check the identification.

I'm sorry you missed your shot. At least you got to actually spot your lifer!