Friday, June 22, 2012

The Prophecy Has Been Fulfilled

This juvenile Green Heron is going really, really fast. Lindo Lake, Lakeside, CA.

I've been residing here in the whale's vagina for almost three months. What do I have to show for it? Well, besides some money and good experience from slaving in the bird mines, I've been exposed to Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, Reddish Egrets, Prothonotary Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, Thick-billed Kingbird, Gray Vireos, Calliope Hummingbirds, South Polar Skuas....and now, a bird that I am positive appeared simply because I willed it.

The bird I speak of, of course, is none other than a Curlew Sandpiper. Curlew Sandpipers are extremely rare in California, averaging one a year or less, and the one and only I saw was so long ago I feel lucky to even remember it. I was recently reflecting on how fulfilling it would be to see another one, especially since one showed up here last fall (I was in North Dakota at the time). Thus, by dwelling on said bird, *POP*, a Curlew Sandpiper appeared on the mudflats of Imperial Beach.

Now when I say I willed the bird into existence, I'm not saying I deluded myself into thinking I found such a heart-stopping rarity...this was no Sanderling through a mirage. I have to credit a certain highly worshiped birder whose name rhymes with "Raul Palin" for locating the bird, and for that I am in his debt.

So there we go. Curlew Sandpiper automatically wins Bird Of The Month here at BB&B, and for those of you who have not had the good fortune of seeing a Curlew Sandpiper yet....well yes, you are an unfortunate lot, aren't you? But don't foresake may never lay eyes on a wild Spoonbill Sandpiper, but a Curlew Sandpiper is in your future...I HAVE WILLED IT.

A muddy-billed Gull-billed Tern. Imperial Beach, CA.

You can tell this is a quality bird by the exceptional lack of quality in the photo. It is the quintessential rarity shot. Curlew Sandpiper, Imperial Beach.

Here it is dwarfing a Western Sandpiper. I was crying when this photo was taken. So rare.

Here's a just-fledged Black-crowned Night-Heron. It makes me think of an Antpitta for some reason. Maybe if I had actually seen an Antpitta, I would know better. Imperial Beach Sports Park.

A recent addition to the nesting Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons at the sports park are Snowy Egrets. They got started a lot later than the Night-Herons it seems, but they already have humungo chicks.

A Black-necked Stilt plies the murky and questionable waters of Lindo Lake.

Hella photogenic.

I remember the first Great-tailed Grackle I found, which I believe was at Clark's Bird Refuge in Santa Barbara. To me, it was a big deal, and was actually semi-rare at the time. Now seeing them is not a big deal at all, but I still have fondness for them. This female Great-tailed Grackle lurked in the murk and muck of Lindo Lake.

San Diego just doesn't make sense to a lot of birders....we have such a bizarre avian community. Where else on the west coast do you see Curlew Sandpiper and Gull-billed Tern at the same time?


  1. I envy the many birds you get to see there, especially the Curlew Sandpiper which I haven't seen or photographed yet.

  2. Yeah yeah yeah you're birding on the beach in San Diego we know. That's a pretty awesome find. My envy gauge is maxed out and the summer is still not half through.

    You're definitely right about the inversely proportional relationship between the rarity of the bird and the quality of its pictures. In my case it even goes so far a to be new birds vs. decent photos.

    Anyhoodle is a Spoon billed Sandpiper turns up in San Diego, I will but a plane ticket and fly there as fast as possible.