Sunday, January 20, 2008

I said, "Owl Omelette!"


One of my techniques for spotting rare nature is to mosey up to the person with the nicest binoculars and politely ask them if they are looking at anything interesting. Since I haven't been taught the Secret Bird Nerd Handshake, I've learned that I've got to be cautious about approaching people with multi-thousand dollar optics. These Serious Birders often treat idiots like me with undisguised disdain.

Today, neither Robb nor I were feeling up to much activity, so we decided to go down to Lake Merritt to see if we could get a better look at the Tufted Duck that has been hanging around. We brought our camera gear and spotting scope. A little chatting with the local birders clued us into the fact that there was another rarity on the lake; a Long-Tailed Duck (formerly known as the Oldsquaw). Just like the Tufted Duck, this seabird isn't supposed to be found anywhere near Downtown Oakland.

Almost immediately, Robb spotted an odd duck on the lake. He set up our spotting scope, and got a good look while I took some pictures. Our scope is really cool, because it functions both as a scope and also as a camera mount. When I turned to give Robb the camera, he was fishing around in the lake with the crook of his cane. Somehow he had lost his grip on the mounting collar, and the collar rolled -- comically -- into the lake.

Once upon a time, this would have really stressed me out.

When we realized that the lake shore was too deep for either of us to reach into, I drove back to our apartment, and grabbed Robb's reacher tool, a couple of rare earth magnets, some string, a tea towel, my galoshes, and a field guide to Western birds. After some splashing around and one admonition from a passer-by that we were breaking the law, we were back in business.

"Owl Omelette," by the way, is the phonetic representation of the cry of this adorable little sea duck.


NatureCrew said...

Yep, had to giggle! Something like that would've happened to me. Always does! Great photos and congrats on the rare sighting!

gollygee said...

Whew! I got worried there for a minute! :D I love owls! :)

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Love 'em enough to make 'em into omelettes?

Anonymous said...

Hm, that's what I thought, if I ever had a duck omlet would you ever speak to me again?

Its not spring here yet, but I'm already looking through garden catalogues. If your little garden there is sunny, its perfect for growing hops for Robb's beer. (Just an idea). I can't send you seeds for it cause California is pretty aggressive when it comes to seeds and plants crossing state borders.

I'm looking at planting a bunch of plants for handmade paper making, It should be a challenge as I've never grown flax before, and cotton would be new as well. Lots of native mulberry trees to make japanese mulberry paper with, so I guess I'll be busy this spring!

Ps- Feathers are also a great addition to handmade paper (hint hint).



Cute little tufted critter. I am a duck fan too, but I'd never turn a duck into one. I just admire them afar. And, yes, I dabble too, but ducks are cuter when they do it.

Ron Sullivan said...

Hey, if you want hops you can buy them here, as seeds (I guess) or seedlings. There's a variety with bright-yellow leaves too. And they make a nice relaxing tea if you're not making beer. Good in a small garden because they're vertical.

I bet you could find a start at that Ace Hardware store garden shop on grand. That's a good place to visit (and photograph) anyway.


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