Friday, October 30, 2009

Life And Death of A Birding Blog

Whee, I've gone half a month without blogging, and I feel great. Actually, that's a lie. Before you begin accusing me of being a lazy, good-for-nothing teenager, listen to what I have to say.

I'll admit it. The element of laziness does have something to do with it. However, a terrible thing called school is the chief reason I haven't been blogging. I probably spend ninety percent of time eating, sleeping, or doing homework; I prefer to spend my little sliver of free time actually birding, rather than sitting on my butt and wasting time on my blog.

So, in this post, I'll try to sum up half a month of my pathetically small amount of free time. Even with my heavy school load, I've managed to get out and fine a few decent birds.

Way back on October 17th, I pedaled down to the beach for a bit of seawatching. A great idea; I needed some jaegers for my Bigby list. However, a thick fog bank foiled my efforts. I puttered around the rest of the day, finding nothing unusual, but doing a lot of photography. This very cooperative Black-bellied Plover was at Upper Newport Bay.

I guess I was not really telling the truth when I said I found nothing unusual. This beautiful juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper just barely enters the realm of unusualness. Really a very good-looking bird.

Perhaps even more unusual than the Pectoral Sandpiper was a nocturnal Eurasian Wigeon. Trying to make a bike day out of it, I drifted around Irvine Regional Park until dusk, finding a few new birds for my day list. While riding past the little lake in my neighborhood in the dark, I decided on a whim to stop and spotlight the duck flock on the lawn. My flashlight beam revealed a Mallard, a Mallard, a Mallard...Mallard, Mallard... EURASIAN WIGEON?! I don't know about you, but I think it's cool to have a Eurasian Wigeon a stone's throw from my house.

Last Sunday afternoon, I had two options: I could stay home and get a head start on the week's homework, or I could go bird the Santa Ana River. After a very (emphasis on very) short time of thinking, I decided to bird the river. After a forty-minute ride, I arrived, pulled out my phone, and found a message from Doug Willick.

Oh boy.

Turns out Doug had found a Blackburnian Warbler a couple miles upstream. Ho-hum. Seen one of those already this fall. Don't care.


Well, I guess the urge to chase it wasn't as strong as it would have been had I not found one along the river earlier in the month, but I still wanted to see it. How many people can say they've seen TWO (I repeat: TWO) Blackburnian Warblers this fall in Orange County? Exactly one. And that's me.

The bird was actually quite difficult to find. Doug, Doug's brother-in-law Phil, and I searched for about an hour before finding it quietly feeding in the top of Chinese Elm near the bike trail. Incidentally, I saw a Baltimore Oriole nearby literally seconds before Doug and Phil walked up. I felt bad about that one. It was another new Bigby bird.

I've done some low-key birding locally this week. Nothing unusual, and I mean it this time. Unless you consider a Merlin ripping the guts out of a Yellow-rumped Warbler unusual.

Western Bluebirds aren't unusual. In fact, they're downright common. Scum. However, they are beautiful, and that makes up for their banality. One of my favorite common birds.

Double-crested Cormorants aren't unusual. But this one was. When my mom reported a cormorant at the neighborhood lake that allowed her to walk within two feet of it, I was so intrigued that I had to investigate. Sure enough, as I walked up, the cormorant just sat there, asleep. It must have been sick. I crawled within a foot of the bird, shooting from various angles, and it barely even woke up. I wouldn't be surprised to find a cormorant carcass up there next time I go for a walk.

So, that sums up most of October for me. I'm still birding. I'm just not blogging.

1 comment:

Bosque Bill said...

Neil, don't let your blog die. Letting it lie fallow is perfectly fine, both for school reasons and to allow the nutrients to return to the soil (so to speak.) Write when you have the time and inclination. We'll wait.