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Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Emperor Weekend

My birding buddy Don is a fan of The Book of Mormon - that is, the musical, not the religious experience. So back last fall tickets were obtained to see it here in Sacramento. A whole birder's weekend was planned around the Saturday night performance, beginning with Don driving over to bird. As happy circumstance reign in a drought stricken California, before Don arrived the skies had opened up and it poured rain, so I contacted him,

"It's really raining hard here... you sure you want to bird?", I asked, expecting commiseration.

Nope, with zero hesitation, Don replied, "I have a raincoat."

Well, that was that! There would be birding.

Friday morning we started the day at the nearest park to my home, Sailor Bar. The park is within view of Folsom's Nimbus dam and fish hatchery.

Don checking out the ducks offshore
I often check out the ducks at the Sailor Bar boat launch, normally finding the 'usual suspects'. Today they were: Canada Geese, Mallards, Common Mergansers, a few Common Goldeneyes (ducks) and American Coots galore. I am always too lazy to drag out the 'big guns', that is my spotting scope, which for the record has disappeared into the Burmuda triangle that is my home (if you see my spotting scope floating about, please notify me). Don had his scope out, almost immediately being rewarded for the effort. He found a whopping fifteen Barrow's Goldeneyes - FIFTEEN!

Let me explain. Normally from the launch you can see one, maybe two Barrows. Barrow's are the more exotic and arctic cousins of the numerous Common Goldeneyes. Today there were 15 Barrow's, more than I've ever seen in one spot in my life. Wow... here are Don's digiscoped photos, taken he took with his Swarovski scope and Galaxy android phone.

Barrow's Goldeneye with its crescent shaped facial teardrop
Two drakes and a hen Barrow's Goldeneye
I'll bet that was some sort of a record. When we finally departed Sailor Bar we headed off to spend the remainder of Friday birding around the county, Starting at the Fazio Wildlife the Consumnes River Preserves.

Two Cackling Geese in background, White-fronts in foreground at Consumnes
We stopped by Sacramento's William Land Park to see our  we saw our first-of-the-year Wood Ducks.
Wood duck Drakes
pretty fawn-colored Hen Wood Duck
That was a nice way to spend Friday. Saturday morning we sat mulling over what to do... what to do... after all, we had about 3/4's of the day to continue birding before getting ready and go downtown for the Book of Mormon. Hum... how to use one's time... Don's phone rang. Hurrah! A friend of his phoned, informing him that a California Fish and Wildlife duck & goose survey down in the delta discovered an Emperor Goose amid the flocks of Canadas. They nixed any info of the exotic Emperor being released to the general public until after their survey. Happily, this morning the ban was over, so come on down! No arguments from us. The Emperor Goose is a species rare out of the arctic, would be a lifer for Don.

We were off to a high up Delta berm overlooking a pasture near Isleton.
On arrival there were a few birders, to be followed by many more 
The Emperor goose is visible in photo above, if you know exactly where to look

The Emperor Goose strolled about, feeding with some White-fronted, Canada and Cackling Geese.  Yes, a horrible shot, taken by my horrid iPhone, through Don's spotting scope. Again, better than the ole poke in the eye.

Here's a better photo of a different Emperor Goose, lifted from on line. Handsome creature, isn't it?

There was loads of congratulatory back slapping and preening going on, I can tell you. The bird was a lifer for most so as long as the beauty stays put, it will have loads of happy birders driving in from all over to have a peek.

One lifer chalked up for Don, we had time to kill, which we spent at lunch. We visited The Queen of Sheba, an Ethiopian restaurant I wanted Don to try. A lovely lunch of Lamb Tibbs on Injeri  ensued... followed by a trip out to Meiss Road and Michigan Bar Road, which are in 'my' backyard (sort of).

a Blue Dick that is... uh... looking pretty

OK, now guess what... it's nearly Spring, and wait for it... wait for it... YES, the BLUE DICKS are up!

I know. I promised I'd stop saying that every Spring, so I guess I lied to you all. I'm very-nearly-almost-sorry.

Fiddleheads (yellow) & Lupine (blue) 
There were a fair number of birds out and about, considering how rainy the weather has been. A Ferruginous Hawk was seen soaring over the low hills on Michigan Bar, followed shortly by a beautiful little Merlin.
Ferruginous Hawk, who seems to have lost a secondary feather or two.
The gorgeous little Merlin - a mini-falcon, just a tad larger than an American Kestrel
Now, how many of my blog posts labeled for birding are also labeled for theater? Uh... just this one. You see, this decidedly birdy weekend ended Saturday night, driving through a deluge of rain to Sacramento's California Community Theater. It was to be Don's 3rd viewing of  The Book of Mormon and my first. The musical was entertainingly outrageous, as in, don't take your straight-laced kin to it, they will *@#$ a (#$+#.  Really, it is as blatantly scandalous as one would expect from the producers of South Park. Yeah, if you want scandalous goings on, this musical delivers. Here's a teensy bit of it I found on line.

At the end of the musical, one of the cast asked for donations to a theater charity that benefits Aides patients. Those who donate get prezzies at different donation levels, such as a Book of Mormon shopping bag for donating $20. It caught my ear that for a similar donation one could get a photo opt with a couple of cast members. I decided Don HAD to have said photo! I grabbed him and dragged him downstairs and he was the first of the evening to get his photo taken. He was so excited he squeezed in as many questions of the stars as he could. Don told the guy he'd seen him in a performance of the musical in Taos, New Mexico. Cool! And so it was a perfect photo op ending to a perfectly birdy weekend.
Don looking a bit awestruck with cast members

1 comment:

  1. Performance seemed to be lots of fun.