MC Corvid in da hizzouse!
This is obviously complete rubbish, but I figured it was time for some humor after a few days without any. This ties in well with the timing of my arrival in LA today, so there you have it!
The goal of today was to position myself to look for Spotted dove in downtown LA tomorrow. The ~82-mile ride would be spit into 2 parts. The first part would run me along the coast on Highway 1 for nearly 50 miles. The second part would throw me directly onto the city streets of LA where I would fight ~32 miles of traffic lights to reach Sonia and her family in Whittier. From Whittier, I could tomorrow ride to a particular neighborhood in Huntington Park to look for Spotted dove. Part 1 of the ride took just over 3 hours. However, it was the ease with which I navigated the LA city streets during part 2 that was particularly surprising to me. I was making such good time that I actually decided to detour through the Spotted dove area today en route to Whittier.
Like any huge city, LA has some really nice areas and some other, rather scary parts. I figured that I could take a quick run through Huntington Park to get a sense of the area before continuing onto Whittier. Since I had the fully loaded bike, I did not want to hang about in an area that might be less than savory. Maybe I would get lucky and get the bird on this brief ride-through. However, upon my arrival, I found the neighborhood just north of Salt Lake Park to be very nice. It was nice enough that I decided to spend the afternoon looking for the dove even with the loaded bike. I did this with hope that I might avoid the 30-mile round trip return ride tomorrow. (Note - the area is fine during the day but I have been advised by many not to be here once it gets dark. It's not like I could find the dove after dark anyway)
89 miles here pictured........
.......plus 12 from the search yields 101 miles for the day.
I did this route 4 times at 3.1 miles per repetition.
I spent roughly 4 hours on the bike gridding out the neighborhood. I looked on lawns, on wires, on roofs, everywhere. I am actually surprised that no one said anything to me. I must have looked very suspicious riding back and forth over the neighborhood streets with my fully loaded bike and my binoculars. There were a fair number of pigeons, and I also found 3 Mourning doves and 2 Eurasian collared-doves. There was no sign of the desired dove though. I was to have dinner with Sonia's family at 6pm. This meant my 4:15 pass of the neighborhood would be my last. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would have to return to the same area tomorrow. I was in my last block when I spotted a darkish dove on a roof. I knew right away it was the sought bird, and a brief binocular view confirmed this. I went to fish out the camera for a picture. Right then, 2 kids, clearly en route to the park to shoot some hoops, came sprinting around the corner bouncing a basketball. POOF! That was that. The bird shot over the backside of the roof just as I got my hands on my rig. Crap. I guess in a neighborhood full of people, you just can't control for everything (if anything!). The view I got was very brief, but it was surely good enough to chalk up year bird #573! This find opens tomorrow up for me. I will probably use the time to bird around Whittier a bit and to spend extra time with Sonia before I head south to Huntington Beach on Thursday and San Diego on Friday.
Santa Monica beach biking
Me and Sonia's niece Jocelyn upon my arrival
I am very curious to see what happens with Spotted dove in the next few years. This bird is an Asian species that became established in and around LA a while ago. Its range has been steadily contracting in the last 10-15 years though, and I must imagine that it could become extirpated from Southern California in the near future. This story is much like that of Budgerigar in South Florida. I do not know why the range contraction is happening, but I must believe it has something to do with the expansion of and competition from another species, the Eurasian collared-dove. This species seems to thrive everywhere as its recent and rapid range expansion demonstrates. Just for fun, I took a few snaps from eBird to show the range contraction of the Spotted dove. Both of the orange markers are in Huntington Park area where I went today. You can see the range collapsing around those 2 remaining markers.
Sightings from all years
Sightings from 2004-2014
Sightings from 2011-2014
Sightings from 2014
Since I was curious about the Eurasian collared-dove range expansion, I did something similar. Clearly there is more data being input in recent years, but the expansion is so rapid (20 years) and so obvious, that a correction for number of data points per year doesn't need to be made to see the trend.
Notice how many more Eurasian collared-dove sightings there are in SoCal where the Spotted dove has declined so precipitously. I have no idea if this actually explains it, but this little exercise gave me the chance to mull it over a bit!
OK, 101 miles and a life/year bird....I've earned a second bowl of ice cream before bed!