Lots of adventurers and spelunkers and entrepreneurs struck out west in the mid and late 1800s in search of gold. This past week I made some trips northwest for a Golden-crowned Sparrow, a bird which I briefly saw on Monday, and then failed to relocate and photograph on Tuesday or Friday. In that sense, it was a good ol' fashion gold bust. It was great to see the bird in the first place but what a lamentable thing it is to have no photos at all. To those of you thinking, "Why not just go back once more?" I can only say this: you know not the great horror of driving into Sun City on Grand Avenue during rush hour. YOU KNOW NOT! Traffic on that scale, for that long, is something the human soul can only stand once or twice a month. Even the incorrigible Mockingbird balks at the prospect and repeated trips up and down Grand Ave.
While I couldn't strike gold again, I did enjoy plenty of other pretty, if also common birds around the Desert Springs as I ambled and ogled. Say's Phoebes had all the good perches and patches under surveillance, be they decapitated bushes or golf carts.
Realizing that searching in solitude was not fruitful, I enlisted a few young White-crowned Sparrows, like the fellow below, to help me find the longer, rarer Golden-crowned that was supposed to be hanging out with them. They were great sports about it, calling and feeding in as gregarious a manner as possible so as to attract any lonely vagrants in the area.
They even jumped up into the bushes to call out anybody that was hiding out below. It failed to produce a rarity, but did flush out a handsome Lincoln's Sparrow, 16th Sparrow of the United States.
As far as golf course ponds go, Desert Springs does pretty well. It had the predictable hordes of Coots and Wigeon, but also a half dozen Bufflehead and some Common Mergansers, which give a certain extra aesthetic and vindication to any artificial property that satisfies their needs.
Even over Sun City, in fact, especially over Sun City (which is a large retirement community), the sun still sets. As the glowing orb drooped in the sky and my Golden-crowned prospects similarly dropped towards zero, I was graced with a first-of-the-year White-winged Dove. Coming on February 26th, this was my earliest personal record for these birds, so at least there was something new to list.
Well, the Golden-crowned didn't get to see or photograph me again either, so he loses too! Right?...right?...right?