Before I went to the gym on two mornings last week, my camera and I were at the city’s Mahany Nature Preserve, which is next to my gym. There are acres of dried grasses, a creek, a seasonal pond, a small grove of blue oak trees and some birds. A Cooper’s Hawk watched from atop a stump. Mourning Doves perched in the limbs of cottonwood tree. Western Bluebirds flew in the distance. A Western Kingbird observed from the top of a dead oak tree. Scrub Jays scolded from the treetops. Anna’s Hummingbirds buzzed by my head. Lesser Goldfinches flitted around tall grasses near the creek. A white-breasted Nuthatch scurried down a branch. Acorn Woodpeckers announced their presence with rat-a-tats. Aha! That’s what I was there for. And, when I espied a pair high in a dead tree, I left the trail and slowly approached the tree, keeping my eyes on the birds as I walked. I hoped to get a better chance at a good shot if I got closer
“Hey! Is that the bird you’re after?” a harsh voice shouted at me. The woodpeckers flew off and I glared in the direction of the voice. The voice was from a man I had encountered when I entered the preserve. He had asked me lots of questions about my camera and what I was photographing in the preserve. We kept pace for 50 yards or so and I tried to ignore him but admitted I was there to photograph birds. I was relieved when a “Y” in the trail allowed me to go left in the direction of the woodpeckers when he veered right. But, a few minutes later, he found me again atop a grassy knoll, as I looked up into the tree at the woodpeckers.
And, “no” this photograph is not a photograph of an Acorn Woodpecker which is the bird I was after. This is a Black Phoebe that landed on a fallen limb behind the woodpecker’s tree, just as I turned away from the annoying man on the trail. Serendipity.