Saturday, August 28, 2010

Challenge Night

Wednesday night is "challenge night" for squash at the gym in San Luis Obispo, where I work out. Squash players can play against any other squash players between 5 and 8 PM. This last Wednesday, 8/25, I was trying to get out of the office so I could drive over to the gym to play; I was looking forward to playing since I had been out with a torn calf muscle for a couple of months.

Then, at about 5:30, I got a call from Kaaren Perry. She had found a White-winged Dove in her backyard in Morro Bay. This was a species I had missed on two trips to Pismo and a couple of searches in Los Osos for reported individuals. Do I go after the bird (was there enough daylight to drive home, change, ride to Morro Bay, find the bird, and ride back home?) or do I hope it sticks around and go to the gym to play squash and lift? I figured if I left work right away and drove home I would have about 20 - 30 minutes to find the bird and still make it home before dark. "Challenge Night" developed a new meaning for me that evening!

By the time I got home and ready for my ride it was almost 6:15; I couldn't stop at all to see if there were any shorebirds on the way there since it was about a 30 minute ride and it was getting dark at about 7:45. I got to Kaaren's neighborhood in about 25 minutes and looked around for doves in trees and on wires. For some reason, the White-wingeds that stray north to this area hang out with Eurasian Collared Doves (not Mourning Doves) and often sit on wires or perch in large eucs. or pine trees. I was hoping I found the bird before it bedded down for the evening in one of the large pine trees in Karen's neighborhood. I had only checked a couple of dove groups when I saw a likely candidate on a wire behind some houses. The light was already fading in the foggy evening and I confirmed the diagnostic white strip on the wing and took a couple of photos in the dwindling light. I couldn't savor the bird for long as the light was going and I still needed 25 minutes to get home! I did meet the people who lived in the house where the dove was perched.  They wondered what I was looking at with my optics.  I showed them the dove and explained its significance and they seemd to be satisfied I wasn't a Peeping Tom. They even said I could climb up onto their roof for a better photo (!), but I declined.  I got home before dark and still had time to go to the gym.

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