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Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Sunday Stroll to the Stratosphere

Sunday I went birding with Don and another birder Sue (a new Birdin' Buddy for Don) in Butano State Park. It was cold, foggy and rather dismal - as coastal forests usually are this time of year. Sue had checked and found a nice ‘easy trail’ for us to hike, with the purpose of finding Pileated Woodpeckers. It was a beautiful forested trail, that wound its way up the hillside which after reading about the trail Sue assured us had only a gradual rise in elevation. Uh… right. The only gradual rise was my heart rate. Hummm… no the rise in my heart rate wasn’t gradual, it was sharp. The person who thought the trail was ‘easy’ had to have been a strapping six-foot park ranger, because he sure as hell wasn’t a 5 foot five tubby woman like me. Early on in our hike we were visited by a cute little Winter Wren that sung its bubbly happy song for us. That was when we started the accent, and that is when all bird life on the mountain ceased to exist. That’s how it goes sometimes; a great effort to hike doesn’t necessarily pay off in an abundance of birds. Life can be annoying like that. We did hear a Hairy Woodpecker but at the top of the hill there were no Pileated Woodpeckers waiting for us uphill; boogers.

The rear sled dog only sees the pink bouncing butt holes of the lead dogs; I can relate.
A Snag (dead tree) covered over with Christmas silvery Spanish Moss


Same snag viewed from way up the hill

After the hike, we headed to the little town of Pescadero for a great lunch at Duarte's Diner. Later we went on a hunt for a Ferruginous Hawk; a particular bird that Sue often sees on the route we took. The hawk had other plans and we didn't find it. Then our little trio broke up; Don and I headed for Thornton Reserve. There we went on a short walk that paid off with a surprising event.

Don pointed out a chickadee that was flitting around in a tree and a Peregrine Falcon flew in, alighting on a tall tree not too far from us. Peregrine’s are always a treat but this one even more so. I was puttering around and Don shouted. I turned to look and see the Peregrine dive bombing toward Don! WHOMP! The Peregrine miss judged its dive and smacked itself into a tree branch! Beautiful poofy blue-grey down feathers floated earthward. Tee hee… the poor Peregrine must have been making a dive for the little chickadee but it misjudged its own trajectory. The Peregrine flew off dazed and probably nursing a headache, but otherwise unharmed. Must have been a young bird, not too familiar with the concept ‘hey, is that branch there between me and my lunch?’

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