Thursday, October 08, 2009

Tales from the Pit - Episode 3 - A Surge of Birds

My wife accompanied me on my third trip to " the Pit". We came with just a be-thankful-with-what-you-see attitude because in my previous expeditions I have dipped so much I felt like a chip over a salsa.

Almost ten o'clock in the morning and so far we have only seen House Finches, the ubiquitous Black Phoebe (is there a place in California at all where there aren't Black Phoebes?) and what seemed like a Northern Mockingbird atop every tree in the picnic grounds. We meandered southwest to the weedy area close to the lake's edge. It was here that the surge began. Right off we spotted a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, then another one and another one flitting among the shrubs!

As we descended closer to the lake we noticed a bunch of sparrows flying back and forth from the grassy portion to the nearby willow trees. Chipping Sparrows - at least a dozen of them!

Throw into the mix some White-crowned Sparrows, a few Nutmeg Mannikins and a family of Common Yellowthroats. We stood there for a while as our eyes feasted on the extraordinary quantity of birdlife before us. Such moments like these that we are enveloped in an overwhelming sense of peace and serenity. Somehow the troubles of the world seem to vanish with every soft chirping and faint flutter of wings from the tiny, colorful feathered creatures that shared the morning with us.

Cynthia and I were still talking about the abundance of birdlife we have just seen as we returned to the picnic area when a movement among the sycamore leaves attracted our attention. Eventually the very active bird exposed itself prompting my wife to exclaim, "Black-throated Grey!" As if they were being poured from the skies, Black-throated Grey Warblers were suddenly everywhere! We have not seen this many in one place at any time!

Noontime and bird activity dwindled significantly. Once again, House Finches, Black Phoebes and Northern Mockingbirds dominated the scene. We left "the Pit" thrilled and excited. We were like children just after being at Toys 'R' Us for the first time.

"What a thrill seeing all those birds!", my wife gushed.

"Yeah, but we still dipped on the Brewer's Sparrow," I replied wryly.

"Dipped?", she remarked, "Hey about Mexican for lunch? I know this place where they have this great salsa dips....."


Felicia said...

Sounds like a fun day! You got both some good fall migrants and new winter arrivals. Hope you enjoyed your Mexican lunch too !

Chris Petrak said...

Interesting how the light & shadows so affects the "apparent" colors of the birds.