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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?

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