Day 127 - When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, and then spill it on your pants.

Friday, May 06, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-

I rather enjoy lemons. So when life gives me lemons, it's a good sign.  This week was incredible.  It wasn't my biggest week, and certainly the next week will produce my biggest addition of species in a week period for the rest of the year.  But the lemons life through at me this week were sweet, and made a delicious glass of lemonade.

Without going in to too much detail, while making my regular rounds I found one of my favorite species.  I had no intentions of seeing this bird this year.  I didn't see it on my previous big year, and when it popped up in early May, I was as surprised as anyone. A freebie! This makes up for one of the missed opportunities, but at the same time, that could have just been one more to add on to the new big number.

Things only got better.  Over the first couple days there were some great birds reported all over Narnia.  I had a decision to make.  I could manage to sneak away for a day and either chase one of these great rarities, or I could use that day to get the one bird I mentioned in my April recap that I had missed.  It's a tough decision, and I tossed the options back and forth in my head the night before not sure which was best.  Do I risk not being bale to get the gimme--the sure thing; or do I get it, and write the vagrants off?  The vagrant I had in mind was a big deal as I saw one on my previous big year.  I actually had already decided it was not going to be a bird I would get this year, so it was almost as if I should just pass on it.  But its a vagrant--and I still have time to possibly make a run at the other bird. What to do, what to do?

I still wasn't even sure when I woke up the day of the chase what I was going to do.  I had a little time to decide once I left the house and still wrestled back and forth with the idea.  What if the vagrant was gone?  But what if it wasn't, and I picked up a few others?  What if I missed the freebie some how?  Ah, the decision was almost too much... But as I approached the fork in the road I chose the chase--I would rather take the risk, go off course and go big.  Because I can likely still pull off the freebie in the next few weeks, the chase was more inportant.

Usually when I chase a bird I am a nervous wreck all the way there.  What if I can't find it?  That is the nagging voice in my head.  But not this day.  I was actually calm all the way the way to the stakeout.  It was only the last few minutes as I puled into the parking area and started my search that I could feel a tug in my gut.  But it faded quickly.  I decided to try a strategy and work my way through the "refuge" form one end to the other.  The very first stop I made I looked out my windshield and there the creature sat right out in the open.  I didn't even need my binoculars.  It was gorgeous--and reigned from one of my favoirte families of birds.  I had only ever seen one this stunning before, and it was a long time ago.  I basked in the birds amazing presence.

I spent about 40 minutes watching it form a distance, and at one point worked fairly close and just sat admiring.  I wanted to stay longer, but my fear is that other chasers would be arriving at any moment.  So I thanked the bird for allowing me to keep it company, wished it well, and hurried out the exit before any other birders saw me.  It was a success.  And I still had several hours to burn so I decided to make a morning out of it.  I raced to a nearby stakeout of a Irruptive Chalkwing that was high on my target list for 2016 and that I had missed several times already.  I allotted my self 30 minutes to look and as the clock ticked down it looked as though I would miss out.  At the very end of the road I was driving I scanned the brush and low and behold there it sat.

By this point I had added 4 new year birds for the day and kept going.  I worked my way through a number of other areas trying to find more birds.  I saw and heard my first Common Migrant of the year, while the other two targets I sought out never materialized.  I decided I had enough time to slip away to one of my favorite hot spots to see what migrants were passing through, so I headed that direction... And it might have cost me my anonymity...

I thought I was in the clear but pulled into a parking stall and realized there was another car there.  I figured it might be someone just taking a break, but when they saw me, they called out my name--dammit--busted.  I didn't recognize them, but after a quick talk I knew who they were.  How was I going to play this off?  I told no one I was chasing the bird, and they had just come from seeing it.  My side trip searches for the other birds had put me behind enough that they just beat me here.  They very well would have recognized my vehicle but now they saw my face.

I hurriedly birded the area so that the other birder that was with them didn't actually see me.  Then around a corner came 5-6 birders I didn't recognize.  This was getting to messy.  I'm not supposed to be here, and all these people are seeing me.  I rushed up a hillside onto a different trial and made my way back to the parking area and sped off.  I had added another 6 species in just 20 minutes, but people knew I was here...

I cursed myself the first little bit of the drive home.  How sloppy of me.  I risked my whole secret to tick off a couple more year birds with the thought of you never know what you might find.  I really couldn't believe other birders had been there though.  I thought I had picked a good day, and would be in the clear.  Stupid.

So it goes.  I'm exhausted as I write this, still fretting about the situation.  Fingers crossed that it all just goes away.

New birds this post:12
Year List: 231


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