Monday, September 3, 2007

Labored Days

                         This Oriole survived the Civil War!

This weekend's sticky heat ruined my plan for three back-to-back marathon birding days, but we managed to get some quality birding in anyways. We limited most of our outings to the peripheries of the day and spent our late mornings/early afternoons hunkered down indoors.

On Saturday morning, we went by Huntington Central Park to see if any fall migrants were passing through. We stayed near 'the island' behind the library, which was quite active: a fig tree near the edge of the water was a popular feeding spot for orioles (I admit, I'm not sure if the one pictured above is a Hooded or a Bullock's), Western Tanagers, and a pair of Black-headed Grosbeaks. Nearby, Nutmeg Mannikins were picking LONG blades of grass (well over a foot in length) and flying off with them.

I also spotted a Wilson's Warbler and some other warbler I couldn't identify—it seemed to be solid grey on the top, with a yellow breast and white belly. Perhaps the Northern Parula spotted last week? Or more likely, a female Common Yellowthroat that happened to look grey on top because it was in the shade? Alas, too far away for me to tell—and too far away for Glenn to photograph.

We were lucky to see as many birds as we did, as the park was filled with flocks of other strange birds:

           The South will rise again! (At 1:30 and 4:00 Saturday and Sunday)

Apparently, this humongous Civil War reinactment is held yearly in HCP. Someone in a hoopskirt asked Glenn, in a fake Southern accent, if he was there to photograph the battle. It wasn't our original plan, but those guys are a lot easier to shoot than warblers.

Sunday afternoon, we went back to San Joaquin marsh to see if we could re-find the American Bittern that Glenn had spotted and photographed during one of his after-work trips last week. We couldn't find it, but we heard a Least Bittern, and saw three Soras. The Solitary Sandpiper from last week was still there, as were the Nutmeg Mannikins and Orange Bishops:

Today, we got up at the crack of dawn to meet one of Glenn's photographer pals at Crystal Cove. We got there shortly before 7, and spotted a couple of California Thrashers on the trail out of the parking lot. On the beach, where the guys spent the morning shooting, we saw Black and Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderlings, Black-bellied Plovers, Heerman's and Western Gulls, Brown Pelicans, and not much else. But the beach was gorgeous and (for the first few hours) cool.

And I really couldn't ask for much more than that.

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