A lone fulvous whistling duck nestled in still, reflective water beside green reeds in the San Gabriel River had no idea that it was causing such excitement among birdwatchers on the riverbank 100 yards away. As the fulvous whistling duck bobbed ever so gently on the water, veteran birder Larry Schmahl, on the bike trail atop the bank, frantically went from person to person trying to borrow a camera good enough to pull in a good close-up of the rare duck. “It’s not that it is rare as a species,” Schmahl explained later. “But to see one in Los Angeles County at this time of year is absolutely unheard of.” In the roughly 15-year history of the annual Bill Bell Bird Walk, held Dec. 17, this was arguably the most exciting moment ever, several members agreed. The birdwalk is held each year on a Saturday in December. It is sponsored by the Whittier Chapter of the National Audubon Society and is always attended by its namesake, Whittier Daily News Editor Bill Bell. The birders meet and hike out from the Whittier Narrows Nature Center. It is free and open to the public and, over the years, has ranged from more than 40 people down to this year’s smallest group of only nine. But Schmahl and others agree that the rare sighting of the Fulvous duck and a rather “uncommon” sighting of a sharp-shinned hawk made this a banner year. This year’s outing produced total sightings of 35 species, which were recorded by Whittier Audubon President Cathy Walters and longtime Audubon official Linda Nakamura-Oberholtzer. Other birders included Jeff Webster, Charlotte Coleman, Bob and Letty Brooks and Jay Oberholtzer. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!