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Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Rustic Birding for Rustic Bunting

Birders before beholding Bunting birdie
Not long after I got back from my Peruvian vacation, I headed down to Watsonville. There I spent two weeks with my bud Barbara, who is recovering from recent back surgery. Meanwhile, a 'code 3' - e.g. 'holy crap!' - rarity, vagrant bird, a Rustic Bunting, settled into San Francisco. Rustic Buntings are yet another Eurasian bird that flew right when it ought to have flown left, ending up in California. Now I happened to have gone home to tend to a few things and I decided to bring Barb & her boxer dog Chori, home with me. Hey, that was easier than leaving in a helpless pile in Watsonville. So abandonging the pair in the comfort of my house, I raced off on a day trip to the Bay Area, where I met up with birder buddy Don. We headed for Golden Gate Park, where the little sparrow-like bird was holed up in the company of juncos (juncos are tiny birds, not derelicts). 

Seconds after arriving I found a parking spot across the street from Bunting land - praise the saints of parking spots. We no sooner crossed the street when the bird in question flew up out of the shrubbery, giving us a quick but memorable view. HURRAH! We high fived and congratulated ourselves for at the very least, having had our binoculars at the ready. We spent the next hour or so chatting with other birders who like us, had traveled from the four directions to see the treat of a bird. There was also a lot of explaining WTF to passersby, who wanted to know why there were so many people with binoculars, scopes and cameras loitering about the meadow.

Later we got a second longer look at the bird, as it scampered about a brush pile, giving everyone present long satisfying looks. Ugh! If only I hadn't accidentally left my camera down in Watsonville. Again, Hurrah for a lifer bird for both Don and myself .

The juvenile Rustic Bunting: Photo by Aaron Maizlich

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