This morning, I boarded a plane in Minneapolis at 9:13am. The temperature was 10 degrees. Later that morning at 11am I deboarded the plane in sunny San Diego to find the temperature in the 70 degree range. Insert happy sigh here.
I met up with fellow Eagle Optics coworker, Katie, and we had a fresh sushi lunch and then checked into the Dana Hotel. What else could two young optic reps do with spare time on their hands do but lounge by the heated pool (yes, I said heated--the pool is heated to 85 degrees since the temperature is in the chilly 70s--insert maniacal Minnesotan laugh here). We had our binos on hand so we could enjoy the Anna's hummingbirds, Audubon's warblers, osprey, cormorants and California gulls bee bopping overhead. And yes, we slathered ourselves in SPF 48.
After all that work we decided to stop in for a snack at the hotel bar. On the way there, we had fun outting all the birders. We would walk by someone and call out "Birder!" Some looked surprised as if "how on earth could we tell they were birders". Hint: they all had binoculars tucked somewhere on their bodies. The REALLY cool thing was that when they learned that we worked for Eagle Optics, they were excited to know us and told us about past purchases and how happy they were with our company's service.
While at the bar, Katie and I were knee deep in conversation when Pete Dunne walked by--he looked just like his photos in the back of his book--minus the jaunty spotting scope. About as recognizable as a green jay, seen it a million times in books and when it comes by you couldn't not know what it is. We shared a drink and then Katie and figured out tomorrow's plan. Because we have to work the festival, we can't join any of the official bird trips, but will have time to bird on our own.
We have a day to go birding, and this area is pretty much and open book for me so I didn't care where we went, I would see a new birds. I was intrigued by the Joshua Tree area, but neither Katie or I have ever really done a true pelagic trip. So we have decided to take a five hour whale watching trip with H & M Landing. We're guaranteed whales on the trip, but Katie and I figure that if you have to go out far enough to see whales, surely we will see pelagic birds--right? We called Jeff Bouton from Leica, who is at Shot Show right now in Vegas and he seemed to think our logic was reasonable and thought that we would at least see a black-vented shearwater. I figure, best case scenario, we will see a few murrelets and shearwaters or worst case, just see whales, sea lions and seal (and maybe vomit from motion sickness along the way). Either way, it seems like a win/win situation to me (except maybe the vomit part).
2 super cool parts of today: 1. Seeing a peregrine falcon fly in and land on a tree and then take off after a pigeon--sweet! 2. Helping a woman identify a lifer California gull--Katie and I are like Batman and Robin out here ( I just wish she would stop calling me "boy wonder").