Day 274 - THE September to Remember

Friday, September 30, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-

One night last week an email crossed the local listserv with a report of The Pompadour. It was too late to chase and I had a busy couple of days ahead, so I wasn't sure if I'd be able to chase at all. I figured I'd wait and see if it was relocated the next day before making a decision. Sure enough it was found the following morning and reported sporadically during the day. Anxiously I imagined the chase in my head. It was less than an hour drive and I could potentially be there and back in 90 minutes if everything panned out. Avoiding other birders might be problematic given the location and the fact it was a rarity, but it was a good year bird and one I couldn't afford to miss.

I finally managed to get away around 6:30pm and sped most of the way to the stakeout--I pretty much hit every red light on the way making it seem like it took forever. When I arrived I found The Pompadour not overly pompous, and quite accommodating in the evening glow. The best part--not a birder in sight! I enjoyed the bird for a few minutes, before I packed back into the car and snuck off without being noticed. I was home, not having spent more than 1 hour and 20 minutes total for the chase, view, and return. All while keeping under the radar.

The Pompadour was a nice add for September and brought my total up to 334. The following week could potentially be a big one, with at least 3 targets on my radar, and with the middle of September who knows what might show up.

Now shortly after The Pompadour sighting I had a look at my year list and in reviewing one bird that I had not added, and talking with others, I decided to go back and tack in one year bird--the Identifiable Hustler. Initially I was unsure whether or not I was going to count it and left it on a tentative list--this one isn't in the category of the "Do-you-count-it Bird", but more in the category, of I'm not 100% sure of the ID. As the days and weeks past I have gotten more and more comfortable with the call and decided to add it unless I have a change of heart down the road.

Instead of inserting it where I saw it on my list, I am placing it at 335 for the time being. At the end of the year I'll go back and place it where it belongs accordingly.

The following week was slow. I didn't add any new birds, and despited looking at 100's of migrants I couldn't turn anything into a rarity. I was in a drought. The hot start into the middle of the month was over. I had expected to keep the big birds coming but there was just nothing to be seen. I finally was able to take a few days and focus on some specifics as the month started wrapping up and tabbed 4 new year birds in 72 hours. It all started with the infamous Do-you-count-it Bird. And yes, I am counting it. This was the first Do-you-count-it Bird I've seen in several years and I thought I had missed my shot for 2016. But not only did I get great looks, I got some really interesting pictures. A couple hours later and I stumbled upon some Angry Bellowers calling in the woods. This was getting to be one of my last resident birds to pick up, and it couldn't have come at a better time. I planned on spending some serious time in October looking if I missed out on this trek, but luckily it didn't come to that.

After this I got back to keeping secret what I found. I found two easily chase-able birds at places birders were frequenting near the end of the month. First came a Gorgeous Spinner. Inevitably this species i reported a handful of times each year. Often at the same place--and most of the time they are 1-day or even 1-hour wonders. It was a weekday morning, and I knew the birds weren't going anywhere based on where they were at that moment. I just couldn't let this one go so easy. This was a species I had actually already chased back in May and missed, so I was just excited to finally pick one up.

Later the same day a Lemon-frosted Riveter popped into my binocular view. This earlier than expected find was also at a location where other birders had been often in the previous days. The truth is I don't think anyone would even think to look for this bird where it was found because everyone coming to the area was so focused on a specific habitat and species that this specific "patch" was going unchecked. I certainly wasn't the first person here this week, nor would I be the last--but this report was going int the vault as well.

I'll make up for these secrets later on I figure. Nothing has been so rare that it would lead to anyone missing out on a once in a lifetime bird. I wouldn't do that. But these birds reported a couple times each year are expendable for this one time undercover adventure. It's helping keep my identity under the wraps, while allowing me to keep building my year list.

As the month came to a close I added a photo of an Enlisted Migrant, a bird seen earlier this year that I missed an opportunity to photograph. This is going to be one of the things I try to focus on in the coming months--adding pictures of as many birds I've seen but didn't take pictures of as possible. The truth is that things are going to come to a pretty abrupt halt for the rest of the year. The brunt of fall migration is over... I have my targets for each of the three months and an a pretty good idea of where I am going to be come Dec 31 now. But of the birds I've seen this year, I am missing pictures of about 30. I can probably get pictures of about 1/2 of those. I have recordings of 4 species I didn't photograph--use your imagination and you might be able to guess what family. Then there are 12 species I just missed my opportunity on. Those are the ones that I hate--in some cases they are common (6 actually) and I just didn't take the time early on to get a picture because I was so focused on birding.

Hindsight right? A big year isn't about photos, but it certainly is fun to try and get as many as possible to go along with what you saw.

This was absolutely the September to remember in terms of what I saw and where I ended up. Sitting at 339 today, I saw almost every bird I looked for, and aside from the vagrants I'd hoped would be reported and weren't--I didn't miss much. September was exactly what I wanted in terms of new birds--I added 17 species in comparison to just 7 in August. I wanted to be right around 340 so I am sitting pretty.

But as I mentioned this is the beginning of the end. The next 3 months should be 3 of the slowest, most doldrums of the year. There just aren't that many birds left to see. Going through my list of possibles for the next 92 days and there are just 5 species I hope/expect to see in the following 31 days. Here is a little insight into the rest of the year as well--on top of the 5 for October, I hope to see 10-11 new species in November, and finally just around 6 in December. So--there you have it--my end goal for right now is roughly 360 species. Take that for what it's worth. Who knows what October will really bring, and if the next 3 months will pan out as expected. Is 360 a new big year record in Narnia, or am I coming up short? Will there be some mega rarities that propel that total higher? Will I miss some things I am expecting and come up 5, 10, or more short?

Your guess is as good as mine.

New birds this post: 6
Year List: 339


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