Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Don't Stop Believing

When I moved to California three years ago, I was faced with a grave decision. My backyard is narrow enough to spit a cherry pit across; I could either grit my teeth and keep a yard list for this tiny plot or simply abandon the concept of yard listing to save myself the embarrassment of having such a low list.

I cheated.

Instead of keeping a yard list these three years, I've kept an informal neighborhood list (known strictly to insiders as the "Hood List.") Like nearly all of my lists, it has fallen into disrepair. However, I still know whether or not I've seen a particular species in my neighborhood, and I get a kick out of finding new species.

The day I moved to my new house (ah, I still chuckle at how I went bananas when I discovered I had Allen's Hummingbirds in my new yard), one of explorations took me past a small, cactus-choked canyon immediately adjacent to my neighborhood. It looked like just the spot to find Cactus Wrens, though I didn't find any that hot June afternoon despite much pishing and peering through the fence.

Days passed. Weeks. Months. Years! I bird the Hood whenever I get the chance, and I've been by Cactus Gulch (as I dubbed it) dozens of times. Cactus Wrens remained conspicuously absent, though California Gnatcatcher, Greater Roadrunner, and California Quail all put in appearances.

So, it's entirely understandable that Cactus Wrens weren't even on my mind when one popped up while I was unsuccessfully trying to pish up an Ash-throated Flycatcher at Cactus Gulch.

But it was there. Not only was it there; it was joined by another!

The prophecy has been fulfilled.

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