Whilst kicking back in LA my local patch has become Eaton Canyon (great website here). It’s a beautiful little spot with a nice mix of Californian bird specialties and some other cool breeders (Canyon Wren, California Thrasher, Wrentit). Catherine (Birdspot) Hamilton was lucky enough to grow up just a stones throw from the place and it feels like the kind of thing every kid should have access to as they grow up. Although now heavily trafficked (which can make bird (or anything else that moves) photography tough some times it’s great to see so many people getting out to enjoy some nature.
The Eaton Canyon site was mentioned in the LA Weekly blog post about birding in LA that did the rounds a month or so ago (here). It’s great to see such a diverse mix of people in age, ethnicity and interests hitting the spot to just get out and enjoy some nature. It seems like we in the birding world are always banging on about recruiting new birders, but to be honest birding is my thing. I care not whether anyone else at Eaton Canyon is there for the birding, more important is that they are outside and seeing the value of saving these kind of places from development, even if it’s just so they can get out and enjoy a walk on the 4th of July. I think Ken Kaufman once said something along the lines of that we don’t need thousands of people who can age gulls we just need an army of people who recognize the value of having open spaces for people to enjoy for whatever reason be it birding, horse riding, hiking or whatever.
In the canyon there’s a great nature center, which has a nice shop (but maybe needs a coffee stand as well to make it just perfect) and just beyond it below the freeway is a weird arroyo/flood management site which I haven’t quite worked out if you are allowed to hike through or not. For that reason I couldn’t possibly tell you that there are cool Blue Grosbeaks or bizarrely introduced Nutmeg Mannikins and Red Bishops hanging around in there. It’s also home to some neat butterflies and lizards and all kinds of other critters. A great little patch and one that I’d really like to explore in migration.
Recently I’ve been spending more time looking at butterflies that I have looking at birds. I guess the thing I like most about birds is the randomness of it all. The not knowing what you might see when you head out. I guess that explains my antipathy towards twitching and birding in summer (when all you are really finding is expected breeding birds at any one site). It’s the surprise that I love about birding and I guess not knowing that much about butterflies means that virtually everything I find when I go out is a surprise – especially here on the west coast.