Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
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from Echo Park

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Weekend wonders

Western grebe

Photo: Western Grebe 2007
By Martin Cox [c]

Some days in Echo Park you can see the ocean. Saturday morning I could barely see my feet -- 6:45 a.m. thick fog filled the bowl in Elysian Park, and Echo Park Avenue was lost; 2 hours later the fog was still cottony. Generally, I make a point of seeking and preferring clarity (illusory as that might be), but it was so beautiful, and a nice change, to be enveloped in clouds for a little while.

Around the time the fog cleared on Saturday, Martin Cox spotted a western grebe (see above) on the southern end of the park. They're common enough for the region at this time of year, but Echo Park Lake watchers say this is the first one here -- at least in recent history.

Speaking of watercraft and waterfowl, Saturday evening was the reception for the photo exhibit organized by the Los Angeles League of Photographers in support of the paddle boats. I went to the Downbeat Cafe early -- along with RJ and our friends Charles and Tristan, who live in Brooklyn -- but there was already a good crowd: the aisle was filled with bodies. In front of the cafe, a man or woman (I'm not sure) played strange melodies on a breath-powered keyboard instrument; indoors, it was old-guard and newer-guard civics-activist Echo Park.

Sunday, the sky was clear at 9 a.m. (the new 9 a.m., that is, since today is time-change day) when I joined Judy Raskin's bird-watching walk around Echo Park Lake. About 16 people joined the flock, most with binoculars. The first unusual bird we saw was a black-crowned night heron, which was white: I thought the fat heron was a plastic bag in the tree at first. The herons nested this summer on the island and had at least two chicks. We also passed the remaining three of the original 8 doves that someone dumped a few months back. I saw a muscovy duck and a kingfisher, to name a few. One of the stranger birds was a man in camouflage jacket and black pants tucked into his boots who was talking loudly to himself and stabbing the air with a brown book. He wore earphones. The park was already pretty busy with human activity -- fishing lines had been set near the boathouse; a pair of women in folding chairs worked on crossword puzzles; dog walkers walked dogs.

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