Thursday, September 11, 2008

Killing Time

I'll admit it is difficult to keep my mind off birds while wrestling with my schoolwork - after all, would you rather spend your days blissfully wandering the great outdoors birding, or cooped up indoors all day studing AP Chemistry, Precalc/Trig, and other wonderful subjects? I'm sure you can guess what I'd rather do. Still, I do the best I can and try to fit birding into my ever-narrowing cracks of open time.

My heavy load of schoolwork, in addition to a pestering cold that keeps me sniffling constantly, has not kept me from slipping out for quick birding jaunts around the neighborhood. In these few moments of respite this week, I've found my first MacGillivray's Warbler, Willow Flycatcher, and Wilson's Warblers of the fall. However, I got my most exciting bird on Sunday.

I've gotten into the habit of biking over to Peters Canyon Regional Park with my scope early every Sunday morning - I've convinced myself that something like a Baird's Sandpiper will show up at the lake. Every week, after diligently scanning the entire lake without a sign of a Baird's Sandpiper or anything else terribly interesting, I would bike home and think "Next week it will be there." Well, it was there last Sunday, but it wasn't what I expected.

It was a dreary morning, and after I rode up I began scanning the lake with bleary eyes. I dutifully scanned through the same Western and Least Sandpipers scampering over the mudflats, when something different popped out. No, not a Baird's Sandpiper; I've never seen an all-black Baird's Sandpiper with a yellow head. There isn't really another bird that looks like a Yellow-headed Blackbird, so I instantly recognized it. I eagerly tracked with my scope as it flew about and joined a little flock of Red-winged Blackbirds foraging on the mudflats. Yellow-headed Blackbirds are by no means common in Orange County, though they do show up annually. It was my first in the entire state, and a Bigby bird that I was definitely not expecting.

Still, as I pedaled home, I cursed Baird's Sandpipers under my breath and thought "Next week..."

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