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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Nerdy Birdy: Free as a Bird

I decided to take a break. I hadn’t been birding in what seemed forever and my friend Mrs. Owlbait was leading a group up the Los Angeles Crest. I couldn’t resist. So I left my Little Cricket with his dad and I ran off into the mountains. I saw a bunch of birds, nothing amazing or new but I had such a great time. I missed the hunt, I missed the exercise, I missed the open fresh air and returning to them was soul filling. Sure I also missed my Little Cricket but this adventure was JUST what I needed in that moment. A bit of R&R, well my kind of R&R!

I met up with our group in the parking lot and was ecstatic to find a mom and her son. He was just a little guy, only 6 years old, and I got so excited. He knew a fair amount about birds and he was toting his little bird book along. His mom started sharing her hobby with her son at a young age. I hope my son will grow up to learn to love birding. It would be so much fun to share my love with him. I am going to have to write a children’s birding book, or flashcards, or something… you know in my free time. SIGH.

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Instead of carpooling up with everyone else I ended up driving separately up the mountain. After birding the group was going to go tour an observatory. Although I would have loved to have joined them in the tour I wanted to watch how much time I was away from my baby. That hour drive alone was perfect. I kept the radio off, rolled down the windows and just enjoyed the silence and the scenery. Three months without total silence can be hard for someone with noise tolerance issues. So I sat back and drove. My fingers dangling out the window in the breeze; I was enjoying the simplicity of it all.

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We only made a few stops but we saw quite a bit of birds. I don’t usually make the trek into the mountains. Normally I am with the lowland coastal birds. So getting to see some of the species I don’t see as often was fun. We got great looks at the more common mountain birds at a little water trickle Mrs. Owlbait lead us too.

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I got to see the biggest pine cones EVER. Seriously the thing was the size of my head. At one point the group got super excited because in a single tree we spotted three different species of woodpecker. My favorite was the more elusive and less seen White Headed Woodpecker.

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The trees were oozing sap and I think that is why we found so many woodpeckers. Even the little Nuthatches were gobbling the stuff up. My favorite nuthatch even made an appearance, the Pygmy Nuthatch!

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We saw a few different species of Jays as well. There was the ever present, ever obnoxiously loud, ever beautiful Stellar Jay. There was the not so common (at least in the mountains) Western Scrub Jay, which also ended up being one of my favorite photos of the day because of the clarity and lighting. And then there was our target jay that we were all hoping to find, the Clarks Nutcracker. This bird with its ghost grey body and its black wings is striking. We found a pack traveling with about 9 birds and we were all super excited to get pretty great views of them.

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We kept spotting little interesting warblers and passerines in the high branches. Those birds are HARD to get good photos of but I managed with a few. Photography sure is a skill and I am rusty!

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We did get to see two unexpected birds. We found one Banded Tailed Pigeon. It’s a giant beautiful bird and I have only seen one once before so he was a real treat.

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But the real star of the day is when Mrs. Owlbait found a beautiful little Pygmy Owl. He was pretty far away and wasn’t interested in coming any closer no matter how many times Mrs. Owlbait played the call but we all got pretty good looks. Nothing can compare to the views I got last year with Mrs. Owlbait of the Pygmy Owl. This time he was about a football field away, last time he was about 10 feet away. Still it was a great way to end the day.

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I enjoyed everything about my outing except having to find a vacant picnic area so I could pump. And then I rushed home to my little man.

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