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The Train to Zagreb

Huge and modern Prague Train Station For the second time this trip, we caught a train. This time we headed for Zagreb in Croatia.  W...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Vagrants are a Good Thing if You're a Birder

My weekend came down to one of two choices: behaving myself by ushering at the Music Circus on Saturday night, as I had said I would - or a going on a wild goose chase to the coast. Honestly - did the play even have a soap bubble's chance in gale force winds against the prospect of my seeing a new bird? Hell no.

The bird that got me to drive over to the coast was the Bar-tailed Godwit - yet another Siberian bird, not often seen in California. The bird was reported on Thursday last as being seen at Pescadero Marsh. Only last year in the very same spot where a Yellow-billed Loon was seen. I still ache when I think that I missed the Loon so I have no intention of missing out on any other vagrants that pop up if I can help it.

So, Saturday afternoon I drove over from Sacramento to Palo Alto where I picked up Don and we headed over to the coast. When we got to Pescadero Marsh we hoofed it over the white sands beneath the Pescadero Bridge & all at once I was so full of joy it was almost embarrassing. I kept thinking how incredibly lucky I am that such eesnie things like a cool breezy day and bright sunshine along with a chance of seeing some lost birdie have the power to make me so blasted happy.

The Bar-tailed Godwit did not jump up and say hello. No bother! We hiked around, taking time to enjoy the Red-necked Phalaropes in their fall outfits and the usual west coast Peeps - Least and Western Sandpipers.

Red-necked Phalarope, spinning like a top

Western Sandpipers - the little guy looks tired, doesn't he?

The weather, as I said, was so nice that I said it had been worth the drive for the scenery and the weather alone, and that if the Godwit showed up that would be a bonus. Don nodded politely, and unlike me, whose head was in the clouds, he continued scanning for the godwit.

Soon he was peering through the spotting scope, stunned at his discovery. Yep - he had spotted the Bar-tailed Godwit across the lagoon. YAHOO!

See the big lumpy, long leggedy splot in the
middle of the shoreline? That's the birdie!

Here is a close up of the Bar-tailed Godwit

Mind, the bird was so far off from us that my photos of it are less than stellar, but that's OK. A crap picture is better than none at all. The Godwit was not hanging out with our local California Marbled Godwits; perhaps he just prefered a bit of solitude. S

So the Bar-tailed Godwit is Don's forty something-ith lifer for this year, and my 14th. That's three good vagrants I've managed to see this year - the Smew, the Curlew Sandpiper and now this Bar-tailed Godwit. I'm on a roll folks! We continued birding and saw many other birds and one very dead, very smelly, Elephant Seal cow on the sea shore. *wheewww*, and we ended the day with a nice dinner over in the town of Princeton. Surf n' turf... yum.

The next morning we meandered over to a public park where Don knew there was a nice little Burrowing Owl. Isn't he cute? While we admired him a little French Family - a dad and his three young French sprouting progeny - stopped to have a look through Don's binoculars at Le petit hibou. What a great weekend.

Le Petite Hibou, which looks as sleepy as the Western
Sandpiper did. Don't these birds get enough sleep?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Never Thought I'd Ever Have Cause to Bribe Guards

Silent lobby - still white marble
no noise above a hush
two guards at desk gaze into the silence
Unannounced - unbidden - unexpected Crescendo!
Loud, clear, echoing through the air
the men look up in surprised awe
the last haunting echo trembles against the cold walls

Yeah, that was some damned BIG old fart I let out in the lobby today. No warning, it just leapt to the open air like a giant raspberry. Fecking hell. See why I say my life is a sitcom? Do you see that now???? Damn it.

I mean, I have not farted in public like that since Junior High classroom incident which sort of set the pace for the rest of my life and explains why I'm such a hermit. I mean, that lobby of my office building is usually alive with dozens of people noisily bustling about, engulfed in conversation with their peers, headed out of the building or into one of the three elevator hubs. But the one freakin' day I... pass gas... it was so bloody quiet you could have heard a dwarf mouse peeing on cotton at 100 paces. Bugger. BUGGER. BUGGER ALL!

Stupid lobby. Stupid guards. Stupid, stupid intestinal tract!

I was racing out the building to go to a docents meeting tonight at the State Indian Meeting. The lot of us made plans for Acorn Day in October which is usually loads of fun when we all pitch in together.

In other news, on Saturday I ushered for Hello Dolly! at the Music Circus. I've only ever seen the movie version featuring the divine Ms. Streisand, so it was a special treat for me to see the stage production. I loved it from the lively actors to the spectacular turn of the century costumes. Plus, there was near to a full house for the performance which was attended by 1,900 souls - in a crowd like that anyone could have farted merrily away with impunity guar-an-teed.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Missed the first two plays of the Music Circus season (don't ask) but should catch the last few. Last night I saw Annie - the musical based on the comic strip. I'd say it was an ancient strip, but I remember it from my childhood so I'll shut-the-eff-up. The most memorable thing about Annie was I seldom see so many little girls all in one place. Everyone and their mother brought along their ensie daughters, nieces, friend's daughters, & any other creature in mary-janes and a frilly dress they could get stuff into a car. On the other hand, little boys however were in very short supply; don't think I saw two all evening.

Great little play, it was nicely performed and the lead kid, Annie had a tremendous voice. One of the other ushers suggested the young actress was actually a 45 year old torch singer stuffed into a kid's suit costume. For me the main thing about Annie the musical is - no surprise here - the music. My favorite is the tough Hard Knock Life, and the runner-ups being Something was Missing and Maybe, both of which get me all misty. Oh, and mustn't forget Sandy the dog (a male dog). Sandy was played by a big old bitch mutt named Lola. With a name like that, old Lola was bound to end up on the stage.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

National Night Out for the Shut In

I traveled far from home tonight - all the way across the street to a National Night Out barbeque. All the neighbors were there, kids, dogs, the lot.

I usually scurry in and out of my house through the garage like a light phobic mouse. So I imagine with all the chattering I did, there were probably several people at the barbeque tonight who may have thought I was channeling Whoopie Goldberg - I mean, I could not shut my mouth for more than a few seconds at a stretch. Oh well. Perhaps after 15 years in my house I am finally comfy enough with to chat with the people in my neighborhood.

The weather tonight was pleasant - cool and slightly breezy. No, I am not hallucinating. It is still AUGUST here in the Central valley. Last Saturday it was 100 plus degrees, the following day the
thermometer plummeted 27 degrees into the seventies and there it remains. Pinch me - I must be dreaming.

On to a new topic - ok, not that new. I have decided since I still have loads of pictures and stuff I want to post from last May's vacation I may as well post it, but will do so whenever I danged well feel like it - which is how post to this blog anyway. I decided to post under the not-especially-original title: Tales of the North Woods, which will be my own birdie version of a Prairie Home Companion. I think two, maybe three more vacations posts should do the trick. Anyone tired of my tales is #$&% out of luck.

This Barn Owl has nothing to do with this post other than I took its pic on Monday morning at the Fazio Wildlife Refuge and want to show it off,.. And heck, what's a Post without a Pic?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Owl Be Danged!

Shortly after sunrise this morning at the Fazio Refuge I shot myself a nice mess of owls. To put that in a more dignified manner, 'I photographed a parliament of owls'. And yes, I used the same tired medieval collective noun yesterday, but come on, when else will I be able to use parliament like that in a sentence?).

Has this Barn Owl a sweet face or what?

Most of the photos came out horrible, then it occurred to me that I am the Mistress of Digitals, and I began to finally mess about with the settings. I set the ISO to 400 - or at least I think I did. The results below came out in focus, but dark; it was shot in the same amount of light as the photo above. However, as these owls are nocturnal hunters, the dark in this unaltered digital is rather serendipitous. I mean, the final product looks like I had a clue.

Owl on Prowl - click on either pic for the BIG picture


Same as above photo, corrected for lighting; not too shabby!