Sunday, January 6, 2008

Birding Meme: Top 10 Birding Experiences of 2007

Moment #10: Abert's Towhee by the Salton Sea.

Tai Haku of Earth, Wind & Water proposed a nice end-of-the year meme: List your top ten nature moments of 2007. A number of local bird bloggers (including Amy Hooper, Leigh Johnson, and Bob Kaufman) have followed up with a twist: Their top ten birding moments. (Since birding moments are a proper subset of nature moments, technically this would count as the part of the Tai's original meme.)

Since I've grown to consider almost any moment outdoors with a bird to be a treat, there was no way I could rank my favorite moments by preference. So instead, I list them in chronological order:

My favorite birding moments of 2007:

1. January 1: Getting two lifers (a Chestnut-backed Chickadee and a Golden-crowned Sparrow) at MontaƱa de Oro State Park, near Morro Bay.

2. Second week of January: Getting another lifer (a Yellow-throated Warbler) at Tewinkle Park in Costa Mesa. Most memorable part: all the really kind and interesting birders I met there, also looking for the same bird.

3.Third week of January: Freezing my buns (and feet and fingers) off in 0 degree weather during the hawk –banding trip to the Antelope Valley sponsored by Sea and Sage Audubon. Saw yet more new birds: a Burrowing Owl, Prairie Falcon, and Ferruginous Hawk.

4. March: Yet another lifer at Tewinkle: a pair of Hooded Mergansers. Gorgeous birds! Even better was knowing that interesting birds could be found at a seemingly banal suburban park only five minutes from my place.

5. May: Lurking in the underbrush in Sea Gate Park with seemingly every other birder in Orange County, looking for the Bay-breasted Warbler. Get a five-second glimpse at it. Yet another lifer!

6. June-August: Monitoring the Least Tern/Snowy Plover reserve at Huntington State Beach. Watched Peregrine Falcons scoping them out as potential snacks.

7. September: Looking outside the window of my apartment on a particularly boring afternoon, and finding that the tree directly outside my place was jumping with Black-headed Grosbeaks and Western Tanagers. And suddenly the afternoon was a lot less boring!

8. October: Watching in amazement , from a third-story outdoor stairwell outside my office, as a huge flock of bold Cedar Waxwings flitted about in a tree about an arm’s length away from me—then realizing that one of my teaching assistants had been standing behind me the whole time, convinced that I had totally lost it.

9. November: Spending two days looking for the Roseate Spoonbill in the Santa Ana River near Orange/Yorba Linda. The real pleasure: finally seeing it after two days of looking in vain.

10. December: Getting three lifers (Verdin, Abert’s Towhee, Gambel’s Quail) within five minutes of each other at Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge. Merry Christmas to me!

And happy (belated) New Year to all of you!

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