Day 259 - The Ides of September are One to Remember

Thursday, September 15, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-

It's been quite a week. I have steadily added new year birds to my list and had some tough calls to make for various reasons. At the end of last week I saw a bird that I waffled on whether or not to count for my year list. I have had a couple of these this year and initially was going to count the one I saw last week, but changed my mind--crossing it off my year list. The said species falls into an interesting category in terms of the birds of North America. There are all kinds of birds that people question keeping on their life lists, some of which include introduced species--even things as common as House Sparrow or European Starling--to the wild and crazy like Bishops, Wydahs, and Mynas. There are parrots, hawks and falcons, and finches... Escapees, introduced, breeding, not breeding, established, random, whatever. The ABA rules recently changed for some species as well making them countable--like Egyptian Goose and California Condor for instance. The fact is there are lots of birds out there that have questionable origins, questionable arrivals, and questionable histories in general. So where do I draw the line?

I've taken a tough stance this year, but had thoughts about being more lenient. For instance, Narnia has it's fair share of Do-you-count-it Birds (this is a species name for 2016), as well as a healthy population of Ridiculous Curlers. There are a handful of species that are reported annually that simply are not on the Narnia State list for various reasons. In my previous big year, I didn't count any of these birds--and thus far this year I haven't, but... I'm leaning towards softening my stance I guess. I'm an advocate for your list is your list. You are welcome to keep it how you see fit. When it comes to listing and competition this can be a sticky situation. The most ardent ABA listers would never count an escaped--yet seemingly established population Pin-tailed Wydah in Los Angeles on their list--but they might count a long established Egyptian Goose in Florida. The line we as birders have come up with seems a bit ridiculous at times.

But for now I will stand firm and not count these birds--as tough as it is to not have one more bird on the list! With all this talk about a bird I didn't count, what about the birds I did?

The first countable new bird of the week was a Moustached Zipper that landed momentarily on an dead limb before disappearing into a field to not be seen again. It's been a good fall for this specie sin Narnia and it was nice to put it behind me early in the month. It was only a few minuted later when I looked up at a Hooded Inspector peering back down at me. This was actually a really good find, and the 1st report this fall form Narnia. But I kept my lips sealed on both. These species were at a popular birding hot spot and I saw other birders there so figured they could find them with a little luck (they didn't).

The following day I visited one of my favorite birding spots this year to spot a gliding Fantastic Hood come in for a landing. One of my favorite birds I had been itching to add it to my year list and could finally relax. I didn't snap a picture before the bird was out of sight, but figured I would come across one or a few more in the coming weeks and take care of my picture then. Not reporting this one was a no-brainer, I doubted anyone would try looking for it here, and it would be hard to relocate anyways.

I decided to see if I could stretch my streak to 3 days in a row and made the trip to track down 1 of 3 remaining breeding birds in Narnia that I haven't seen this year, but expected to track down before the fall is over. I left early in the morning and arrived just after sunrise and the bird I was looking for was nowhere to be seen. I spent the next 30 minutes scouring the habitat and still hadn't found my target. I was beginning to get nervous and headed back to where I started so I could try another loop when I noticed a lovely Powdered Sneaker sitting on the side of the road. A sigh of relief and I turned around to get a better look. After getting my fill I drove a little further only to find a few more.

I have a story about this day that I want to share, but can't till after the years over--to many details and too much information would give up my state and probably my identity. The ides of September will be one to remember come 2017 and my recap on the year.

The following day I was tied up most of the day and of course that meant good birds were found and reported. After the first reported species I formulated a plan to try for it once I could get away. I was good to go when another report popped into my email that made me pause. I had to decide do I chase bird A or bird B (A being the original bird, and B being the newly reported). Now, A was definitely the rare of the 2 species reported, and it was the 1st report this year. Bird B I had missed several times so far this year, but would likely get more chances this fall and winter. Bird A was about twice as far of a drive as Bird B so there was that as well. I tossed the birds back and forth and settled on Bird B. I felt that I would have better odds of finding it with the limited time I had before dark.

So off I went arriving at the are where the bird was reported. As usual my nerves were up, and my leg was shaking with anticipation. I pulled into the parking lot and set off to look for the bird which I realized fairly quickly was not here. Shit. I made sure to thoroughly check the area before deciding to check a nearby lake where I figured the bird might have gone. It wasn't there. I knew there were 3 more places I could check that would all be visible from the sky from the original location. As I drove through the nearest location, a park, I wasn't seeing anything. I decided to check one last road and as I pulled onto it I spotted a few birds. Sure enough one of them was the Speckled Jerk!

I couldn't believe I had found the bird! There were a few minutes where I regretted not going for Bird A, but after putting forth the effort and tracking down Bird B, I was happy with my choice. I could now focus on bird A the following day and extend my streak to 5 days with a new bird. I had the same issue where I couldn't get out to chase the bird first thing, but after getting free for a bit I headed to the stakeout of Bird A. There were a couple birders there I didn't recognize and they seemed content not to make eye contact with me--a little awkward. I looked for the previously reported bird but it was no where to be found. And I really put forth an effort. I ended up finally throwing in the towel and capping off a 110 miles round trip day of birding without adding a new year bird--streak snapped.

But it was still an amazing week of birds and birding. Here I am half way through September sitting at Three-hundred and Thirty-three species for 2016. There were 3 voted this year on the poll that said my total would be between 300-325. So now that's out of the way there are only 3 options left, and I'm well on my way through one of them. I've also shredded through my hit list for the month rather nicely, leaving only a handful of gets left before September comes to a close in 2 weeks. If I can keep this momentum going I may have a shot at the current record!

New birds this post: 5
Year List: 333


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