and heads up the San Bartolo arroyo, solo. My sweetheart, Debbie, has things to do here at the casa this morning so I go. Our place is near the beach and as I leave the driveway this Royal (maybe Caspian) Tern flies by without a care in the world.
It’s about a kilometer’s drive, maybe 2 to the arroyo turnoff and as I turn west, all is calm. Nobody in sight, the landscaping is green and welcoming. The path is rough so after a kilometer’s run I find a likely-looking place to stop. The spot I choose to land is at the end of a side finger wash. A bushy tree looks out over native scrub and I hunker down next to a bush for cover and have the sun to my back. Not a bird in sight but I’m pretty sure this situation will change soon. I get my Ipod ready to play Black-capped Gnatcatcher calls. Placing the gismo in some shade, I settle in for 5 minutes of wondering expectations as the calls play. Right off, here comes a smart-looking Gray Vireo. You can tell by this bird’s colors it’s a tough one to see. The call brings it in close.
While the call plays, another dry-brush inhabitant arrives. Even though this bird has never heard a Black-capped Gnatcatcher, as they are not native to this area, it’s curious and actually mimics the call back. A California Gnatcatcher, pretty bird.
Two more birds soon come to take a look. “What’s all the squawking about”. An empid, a Pacific-slope Flycatcher wants to know.
As does this Black-throated Gray Warbler.
Now it’s time to head back to the quad. Something looks wrong with this picture. I don’t think I’ve ever been awarded the “most intelligent” award and when you see this photo you may understand why. See that boulder hovering over my Big Red ride? Looks like if I stomped my feet, it might come crashing down. If not today, sometime soon I’m sure.
On my way home I start thinking (oh no). The air is warm and cozy. It’s about the time of year the Great Horned Owls should begin arriving. If I were an owl, where would I roost? I spy a tall tree that looks like it is always in the shade of a cliff. Kidding myself I stop and walk over for a look. I’m whispering “here owl, where are you?”. All of a sudden my eyes focus and I’m staring at this owl staring right back at me. I need to get a little closer to photograph the bird because it’s in the shadows but as I take a step it looks away (looking for an emergency escape route). I think the owl is getting nervous so I stop my stalk and shoot. Satisfied the photos will turn out okay, I leave Mr. Owl in peace.
Some people sense that owls are magical. Natives might call them tecolotes, or devil birds. Many people used to believe these birds would steal unattended babies from their beds.
A lot like fishing or hunting, to Debbie and I much of the satisfaction of birding is in the pursuit. So very often we find a new, maybe even rare, subject to shoot, so much fun! All one needs to do is get out and look, then you will see…Happy Birding from Chris and Debbie.