Birding without binoculars

I was sitting in a sunbeam in the hotel lobby overlooking the pool working on my presentation. My chair was comfortable and I had my feet propped up on the windowsill. I was really killing time.

The windows were at eye level with several trees surrounding the pool. As I sat watching the people below test the water of the pool then walk away; from the corner of my eye I noticed several birds flitting in the trees. My attention swung from would-be swimmers to the birds testing the poolside trees for early spring snacks.

A biggish glossy green Hummer popped up and buzzed the tree in front of me. I pressed my nose to the glass looking for any hint of color. I saw none. Must be female and she is pretty good-sized, about the size of a Ruby-throated. I extrapolated that she must be a female Anna’s. I looked around, got out a tissue and wiped my nose print off the window. Ew.

Several big dark gray-backed gulls flew by. One of them flew close enough to the window that I leaned back in alarm before it veered off. It had a single red spot on its bill. Ah, a Western Gull.

A Crow flew past, no wedge to that tail. I was feeling like Super Birder. 3 for 3 in California.

Then a skinny gray bird drew my eye hopping from branch to branch in the tree in front of me. I could not place it easily. Appeared to have a white throat, a darker cap, and a lighter patch on the rump. I continued to watch it as it sallied forth to catch an insect. Huh! Could be a Gnatcatcher or at least some sort of flycatcher. Maybe Olive-sided, they have a white rump thing, but I did not see any vest. The bird tantalized me as it flitted among the leaves. The Hummer buzzed it once. There was a big size differential.

My binoculars were in my room, of course.

I finally gave up and went to give my presentation. I still do not know what it was. When I got home, I looked in my Western bird books to no avail. How many times have you memorized field marks to look them up later? I do it all the time. Sometimes it works, many times it doesn’t. It always better to have the binoculars at hand and not locked in the room upstairs. A lesson I never seem to learn.


Filed under Travel

4 responses to “Birding without binoculars

  1. Norma

    Cute story, it’s happened to me!

    Don’t five up on Ivory-bills! They didn’t!

    I invite all birders and other interested parties I find on the web to visit the Ivory-billed Woodpecker Foundation’s Update Blog, just in case they are interested:

    Lets BLOG!

    Check in Often.


  2. The little bitty Rangers fit nicely in a purse. Only sometimes, I don’t have that either. Wouldn’t it be great if we get zoom attachments for our eyeballs?

  3. Bob

    Yup. It’s happened to me too.

  4. I seem to do it all the time. I am so new at birding (in any somewhat serious fashion that is) that even with bins, memorizing field marks, and looking them up, I can’t figure some out.

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