Friday, February 12, 2010
Are Bad Pictures Better Than None?
On February 11, I had to take a break from work. I got onto my mountain bike (which I leave at work) and took a quick 10 mile loop around San Luis Obispo looking for birds. My first stop was the waste-water treatment plant in town, to look for a new BIGBY species - the Black-and-white Warbler found on the Christmas count by Michael Hansen. It hadn't been seen in the three plus weeks since the count, but it was worth a look. I figured I'd ride along the new creek-side bike path - the "path to nowhere" (it just ends near the plant's open ponds and then you have to turn around and go back to the beginning). I would ride along and listen for bushtit/chickadee flocks because I wasn't going to find the warbler if it wasn't with a vocal flock (fortuately, wintering warblers often associate with vocal flocks that warn of predators). The second mixed flock I heard along the path had about 30 or 40 birds in it, including a Black-and-white Warbler climbing along the branches of the mostly leafless willows and other trees along the creek! It first came to my "pishing" along with butterbutts, chickadees, kinglets and several Anna's Hummingbirds. I got my camera out and it did not have a long lens on. By the time I swapped lenses and was ready to snap, it was gone. I stashed my bike and bushwhacked down to the creek to try and get some photos. The birds were no longer as responsive to my pishing (or owl whistles), so I searched through the flock, only getting fleeting glances at the Black-and-white. I snapped away and got the two shots posted - terrible but identifiable for documentation (the rest were even worse!).
I had to take off and complete my loop so I could back to work. I took two other quick stops, but found nothing new. Had the Great-tailed Grackles finally succumbed to the food at Costco where they had been hanging out (just kidding - don't sue me Costco)? Where was the Ferruginous Hawk that everyone else has been seeing along Foothill? Oh well, one new BIGBY bird for my break was OK.
Posted by Jim Royer at 1:50 PM