Thursday, December 13, 2007

TIME, ON SWIFT WINGS, FLYS EVER FASTER

It's hard to comprehend that it's almost the end of the week. The holidays are looming on the horizon and this is the month when time seems to be going at warp speed; before we know it, it's a new year. This morning there was a gorgeous sunrise and when I went out to get the paper a flock of ducks and some shorebirds flew by at the same time, their black silhouettes racing across the orange and pink clouds. At the end of my street is what remains of Ballona Creek; once a long meandering river that supported a rich variety of wildlife but is now only a concrete abomination. It still supports a lively population of water birds though, most of which spend their days in the remaining wetlands at the end of the creek.

Things have been busy at work due to finals, so I haven't had much time to post. I do get out every day and walk around campus, and Wednesday was no exception. There is a place on campus that I've been wanting to check out and it was a nice day so I headed on down there. It is a stream remnant that they managed to leave when they built, added to, and modified the campus over the years called Stone Canyon Creek. It's located on the west side of the grounds, just below the Anderson School of Management. I think it's kind of ironic that it also sits adjacent to the Real Estate School--home of future developers. But I digress...

The stream is probably a 1/4 mile long, with the head of it somewhere that I can't get to due to fences and the terminus is a huge drainpipe that diverts it underground. Lord knows where it ultimately ends up, but no doubt it's the Pacific Ocean.

The riparian habitat here consists of numerous large Bald Cypress and quite a few oaks. The oaks are native to the area. There were plenty of acorns on the ground--all eaten by squirrels, of which I saw about four working over the trees for whatever acorns remained attached.

I had hoped to see some interesting birds here, but there weren't many and they were all warblers. I saw a few Yellow-rumped and one Townsend's in the oak trees, and in some bushes nearby I saw a female Wilson's warbler. One Anna's hummingbird made a brief appearance and that was it for that birding adventure. I imagine in the spring there is way more activity down here, or perhaps earlier in the day when there are fewer humans about.

No bird watching trip is wasted, however. One learns something new each time and hopefully one increases their patience and sharpens their observations skills. Like anything else, it takes time and practice. For me, it's not work but a pure pleasure. The only thing negative about it for me is that if I go during lunch I have to quit and go back to work when I seldom am ready to!

I hauled out my old film camera the other day and I plan use it for some bird photos. I have a Nikon N90S with a Nikon 300 mm AF lens--and I'm hoping it will be adequate. I bought the outfit about five years ago for surfing photography, so I know it will be suitable for action shots--those birds rarely sit still for long! Stay tuned for test photos...

Saturday I am going birding with a friend of mine who wants to learn more about it. We're heading out to Placerita Canyon, which is a bit north of where I live. It is mostly oak forest and chaparral and I am uncertain about what birds may be around that area this time of year. But I've never come back disappointed from any outing, so I am eager to see what this one brings.

Peace & Good Birding,
Linda

[Post composed while listening to Tangerine Dream "Force Majeure" and "Stratosfear." Some really fine early electronic music from the late 70s]

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