Day 140 - Picking Your Battles

Thursday, May 19, 2016 2 Comments A+ a-

Where last week filled my list with the expected--this week filled it with the much needed and truly unexpected. Over the weekend I had opted not to chase a bird that was only 15 minutes from me at one point. I don't quite know what went through my head at the time, but it was passing on a slam dunk. The following day I looked for it to no avail. What a mistake--or so I thought. I decided to take one more shot at it, and see if by some miracle it had been hidden away when I looked--and luck must have been on my side. I pulled up to the marsh where the Trivial Lounger had been and spotted it flying immediately. I was just plain lucky...

It was a huge find in that if I missed it, there were no second chances later in the year. This spring migrant rarely if ever shows its face in Narnia during the fall. I decided to press my luck for the day and headed to the hills to visit some feeders I check periodically throughout the year. I first stopped to check a thicket for a species that should be arriving any day, and was glad to hear my first Capped Thicketbird of the year.

Moving along, the feeders were loaded with seed and birds. In a matter of 30 minutes I added a Sparkling Hobbit and a Great Vigilante from the nearby woods. Although I categorize both these species as birds I would see in 2016, or "expected", they are at the bottom of the expected list and should've required a little more work.  Some days you get lucky though and the birds come to you with ease.

The next day, I set out for more migrants in a lowland area. I was in need of something out of the ordinary, and set out to find something. It's funny how that works as after a short hike I turned up a not-so-shocking Shocking Bird. This was not on my previous big year list, so a huge plus, and in general a "shocking" find. I tallied another year birds with the first Summer Skulker of the season, followed up by a singing Purchased Migrant. I put the migrant on my list with some hesitation. The find was an audible, and I narrowed it pretty quickly. After listening to a recording I made I stuck with my guns as there is nothing that sounds quite like it.

Continuing my week and streak of days with new year birds I was excited to pick up my first Black-and-white Overseer of the season mid week. The endless stream of migrants did slow a bit, but an overnight storm on Wednesday turned up a lot of birds the following day. I added my Summer Orchid for the year and saved myself a trip later in the summer to a remote location in Narnia to see one. I may still have to go, as I wan unable to get any pictures.

I have always been big on taking photos to help have some amount of culpability and credibility, but it's impossible to capture something 100% of the time. Given my secret big year this is problematic, since in many cases I only get one shot at a bird to make sure I'm not being too obvious. And often I am trying to enjoy the moment and unable to get a shot of before the chance has passed. It's a constant struggle to weigh the needs of getting a good look and being satisfied for the count versus trying to make sure I document the year.

Some days I win the battle and get great looks and photos. Other days I enjoy a nice look, but that's it. I pick my battles accordingly and know that some birds just aren't going to make it on film...

New birds today: 9
Year List: 285


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I'm on a mission to see as many birds as I can in 2016... within the borders of my home state. The only catch is I'm not telling anyone that I'm doing a Big Year...


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May 27, 2016 at 12:45 AM delete

Maybe if the purchased migrant isn't a huge giveaway, you could post the recording as sort of a game to figure out what it is?

June 1, 2016 at 9:26 AM delete

I reported the bird to my local list, and I'm pretty sure I have a couple of followers here at home, so I don't want to give it away--there are too many other birds singing that would also help narrow to what part of the country I'm in!