Friday, August 29, 2008

Definition of Insanity

I panted, gasping for breath in the muggy air. I could almost hear my legs screaming for mercy as I pressed on up the hill on my bike. And, of course, it was blazing hot. Why are you doing this to yourself? That evil little voice piped up in my head. I experimentally ran my tongue over my upper lip. Sweat. Lots of it. You know why, I countered.

The reason for torturing myself? A small, dark sandpiper; a Solitary Sandpiper, in other words. One had been hanging around recently in the San Diego Creek near the Irvine Civic Center, and it was a species I was keen to add to my Bigby list. Heavy-duty school starts up next week (gotta love the Junior year!), so today was just about my last chance to pedal after it. Too bad it was so hot...

After a rather pleasant but lengthy bike ride, I reached the San Diego Creek early this morning and began cruising along the bike trail that follows the creek. I intently scanned the creek bed for suspicious shorebirds as I pedaled along. I passed the Irvine Civic Center without seeing any sign of a Solitary Sandpiper. Hmm. I pulled a U-turn and retraced my path, more carefully scrutinizing all the hidden patches of water. Still no luck - the same Least Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs, and White-faced Ibises (or Ibii?) skittered through the shallow water, and my eyes skipped over them without pause. Well, San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary is close by. Maybe it hopped over there for a while. Worth a look, anyway.

I rolled into the sanctuary a few minutes later, unpacked my scope, and set out to check the first several ponds. Pond E was parched - the bone-dry bottom of the pond looked like a giant brown jigsaw puzzle, the earth was so cracked. Pond D, however, still had plenty of water. The first bird I laid my eyes upon was a small, dark sandpiper standing by itself in a corner of the pond. My "think like the bird" mode produced positive results for once!

After I had spent ten minutes admiring the bird, it took off towards the creek, calling as it dwindled into a black speck fleeing into the distance. Makes me glad I didn't dawdle ten more minutes on the ride down! I walked around other parts of San Joaquin, but found very little. By now, the sun was high in the sky, and it was ridiculously hot and humid. I grimaced as I thought of the ride home.

The ride home was every bit as awful as I had anticipated. It was not long before my shirt was soaked with sweat, and I could feel myself becoming dehydrated even though I frequently stopped to gulp mouthfuls of tepid water from my water bottle. When I finally rolled wearily into my garage in the early afternoon, I was more than ready to kick off my shoes, slurp down a frosty root beer float, and type "Solitary Sandpiper" into cell #214 of my Bigby list in Microsoft Excel.

1 comment:

Parus said...

All that way for a single Solitary bird eh?
Well congrats! Your Bigby list is almost half as long as my year list!