Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Snowy Day in Hell



This weekend's birding adventures started auspiciously enough. Glenn and I got up early on Saturday morning to monitor the Least Tern Reserve at Huntington State Beach. The surf was low and choppy, which meant fewer surfers than usual—so far, so good. The terns seemed to be doing well: the chicks had started to fledge and were able to fly in and out of the fenced-off area on their own; many rested with their parents on the sand in front of the reserve.

We also spotted three Snowy Plovers (one of which was banded) walking around near the water line. A Peregrine Falcon flew over the reserve, but left without trying to take any of the terns. Our morning seemed to be off to a good start.

This was followed by a necessary (and planned) trip to Costco, where we thought we heard a Killdeer in the parking lot. Then two hours in the emergency room at Hoag Hospital (the stitches come out next week...), then several more hours back at Costco, waiting along with half the population of Fountain Valley to get our tires changed. The only birds we saw Saturday afternoon were the roasted chickens in Costco's deli section.

On Sunday, we were determined to make up for lost time. After breakfast, we headed back to Bolsa Chica. We do hang out there obsessively, partly because it's close to home and a pleasant walk even on non-birdy days, but today, it seemed particularly appropriate given this article in today's Los Angeles Times on the never-ending battle over the future of Bolsa Chica. It's easy to forget how rare and vulnerable a place it is—especially when you're hanging with photographers who keep muttering about how interesting birds must keep themselves backlit on purpose.

While at Bolsa, we spotted three Red Knots not far from the footbridge—one had two bands on one of its legs, one bearing the number 173. Our Independence Day Brant was still there, swimming and preening itself near the tidegates. Apart from these, nothing but the usual pleasant assortment of terns, skimmers, and egrets. A quick spin by San Joaquin revealed—not much. But it was still a pleasant afternoon out.

Just out of habit, Glenn asked me if I had enjoyed our weekend's activities. Well...as far as it is possible to enjoy slashing my dominant hand and being unable to bathe, cook, swim, knit, write by hand, or otherwise contribute anything meaningful to society for the next week and a half...

Yet things could have been a hell of a lot worse. If you absolutely must take a weekend detour through an emergency room, you can do a whole lot worst than Hoag. As we headed there, I was bracing myself for King/Harbor levels of bloodshed and chaos—but as it turned out, the ER waiting area was nearly empty except for a handful of mildly injured weekend warriors. All of us were treated promptly.

And despite my (temporary) limitations, at least I can still bird—and despite one sucky afternoon, I actually DID bird the whole weekend.

So yes, I did enjoy my weekend. Sort of.

2 comments:

tenderstorm said...

What happened to you that required going to an ER?

Bob & Cynthia K.

Felicia said...

Let's just say Mourning Doves can be really vicious if you get too close...

Actually, it was just a dumb kitchen accident—I sliced my right index finger while cleaning a knife. Totally stupid of me!