Day 320 - Such was the Case with my Latest Chase

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-

With my goal of adding a new bird every 3 or so days the remainder of the year I was a bit worried during my first 3 days when I hadn't added anything new. In fact I was in a week drought from my last new year bird. There had been 3 reports since then of what would be new year birds but none were really feasible or worth the effort given the odds of tracking down the culprits. So I waited. This waiting game is perhaps the hardest. I need people with more time and wider ranges to find good birds from here on out as I don't have the time and can't put forth the effort to track down a new species every 3 days. Everyone else birding in Narnia is my only chance to keep that total climbing.

I've mentioned the reality that there generally isn't a great amount of information sharing in a timely manner happening in Narnia. And since I haven't asked anyone to keep their ear to the ground for me, every new bird that gets reported becomes a game time decision for me. Do I chase right now? Do I chase today? Do I wait till tomorrow? Do I wait and see if someone else relocates it first? Do I skip it? Is it even a reliable report? I run through these questions and have to decide how it will impact my year. For instance if a Siberian Accentor were to show up in Narnia and were 100 miles away, and seen by a reputable birder, I would drop everything and go immediately. That's a no brainer.

But if a more expected arrival--some type of annually occurring songbird, were reported at a backyard feeder 40 miles away, by an unknown--I would probably wait for others to relocate it, or for pictures before taking the time to track it down. The truth is every single bird requires a different action. Some are easy to answer while others leave me agonizing for hours and sometimes days wondering if I made the right choice or made a big mistake.

Such was the case with my latest chase... A report came out in the morning of a bird I needed for the year. It was a reasonably close chase of a bird that is reported several times a year. It was only the 2nd report in 2016 and the other was no chase-able. I could make the argument that it might stick around for a couple days, BUT was it worth it to wait? As the day wore on I decided to go for it. My biggest worry was running into other birders who might be out looking, because there was legitimately no reason for me to go look for this bird. However, plenty of Narnians would probably love to see one.

I slunk out of my responsibilities in the middle of the afternoon and sped my way to the stakeout. I was nervous as I arrived, expecting others to be on the lookout. There was no one. I quickly left my car and started looking. Almost immediately I had my year Velvet Flocker in my binoculars, year bird #348. I snapped a few shots and spent a few minutes hoping for a better image, but eventually I decided I shouldn't press my luck. I had truly been undercover and could keep my anonymity by leaving before others surely showed up. I bid the flocker adieu and was on my way.

Later I learned that within 15 minutes other birders arrived on scene, so my choice to get out of dodge was the smart one.

Now in reality I think a new bird every 4 days might be a better strategy. Every 3 days would be a better number, but 4 may be more realistic--however unrealistic my goal is not-withstanding. With day 4 coming and going, I either have 2 more days for my next addition, or 4 if I choose the latter route. Either way, it's almost like a mini challenge within the bigger challenge. The clock starts ticking on the next bird at midnight tonight. And based off this "clock" I should hope to be sitting at 350 by the time Turkey Day rolls around in just over a week.

Fingers crossed and prayers to the birding gods for a little luck in the coming weeks!

New birds this post: 1
Year List: 348


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