HELL yeah I was ready! I immediately went on line. Found out an astute birder just outside of Dixon (about a 45 minute drive from my house) looked into a irrigation type ditch and spotted a 'different' looking shorebird. He reported it to one of the area's premiere birders and shortly thereafter all hell broke loose. There was a mega rarity vagrant bird in Yolo County.
|The Little Bunting I missed out on|
NOT on my life list
photo by lucky & talented birder, Rob Fowler
Determined not to miss this one I was out the door in under an hour. Of course, being an idiot, instead of following the directions given in the birding report, I navigated via Google. Said drive was beautiful, taking me through the River Delta, along the shores of the Sacramento River. It put me onto Liberty Road - on the wrong side of the river. Felt like a moron. Took another hour to drive around to the correct side of the river.
|Friday afternoon, midday Marsh Sandpiper hopefuls|
I arrived at the Marsh Sandpiper site midday Saturday. I wasn't the only one there. The Sandpiper was discovered the previous evening, and as many as 100 birders saw it
The gray span to the right of everyone is actually a far side of an irrigation type ditch, dropping about 6 ft down, with a mud bottom.
When rare birds fly in, it is rather like an impromptu, unplanned get-together for birders from all over the west coast to meet up. There are birders who only know each other from previous stake-outs for rare birds.
I hung about for a few hours, then after conversing with other birders on a game plan, I decided to come back at dawn Saturday morning. Come Saturday in the wee hours, I drove hopefully towards the outskirts of the tiny town of Dixon. The sun was adding shades of pink to the sky when I drove in, lugging my spotting scope about a quarter mile to join the teeming mass of birders.
I was about to give up and lament that I would never see the bird when a cry went up, "There it is! The smallest of those three flying in!"
I was on the bird with binoculars quickly and watched in rapt awe. At one point the little guy flew so close I lowered my binoculars so I could stare at it with my bare eyes. Woah... a true Audubon moment.
The bird landed about a mile up the ditch but I stayed put. I was rewarded - after ten minutes or so, the bird flew back, landing in front of us all, in the ditch. This is where the story goes all Claire-like. I wanted to digiscope a shot with the iphone through my spotting scope. As I watched the sandpiper meandering in the puddle, feeding, I dug frantically through my pockets and could not find the eyepiece for my iPhone. Finally I resorted to just holding the iPhone to the scope eyepiece but shots taken that way are never quite up to snuff. Oh well.
|Greater Yellowlegs (L), my Lifer Marsh Sandpiper (R)|
|Marsh Sandpiper on left|
SIGH! As you can see above, my resulting photos were crap. Insult to injury, it was only after the bird finally flew off, leaving behind happy birders (minus ONE), did I find the missing eyepiece in 'the vault'. Meaning I'd stuffed it down my t-shirt & forgot where I put it. *sigh* Yet another precious Claire moment. I was so annoyed, but oh well, I had my first lifer of 2014. Nothing, not even crap photos can take that away from me.
The Hookupz below is actually a wonderful tool, that works with my binocs and my spotting scope - that is when I manage to have it with me. Best $15 I ever spent.
|My wonderful $15 digiscope tool|
lets me use my iPhone camera
to take photos with my binocs and