Day 341 - The Crooner Miracle

Tuesday, December 06, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-

Sometimes you are so sure you're not going to see a bird that you cross it off your list. You've checked for it 5, 6, maybe even 7 or 8 times during the year and had no luck. You give up, move on, and imagine how you will keep adding species without that one. That same one that you used to see regularly. That same one that you saw 10 times on your previous big year. That same one that you were sure was still gettable. It wasn't for lack of effort that I had failed to pick up an Ancient Crooner in 2016. It was for a lack of the birds being present. I checked all the usual places and came to the conclusion that it would simply be a miss on the year. A bird that I ranked as a 1 when I started 2016. That was a species I would absolutely get. By October it was relegated to a 5--that meaning it would take an act of god for me to get it at this point. All was lost.

So during the past week when the opportunity came about to take one last shot at it, I smugly thought, "what the hell, why not", and went about my routine as if nothing would be different. I headed to the last place I'd seen it a few years ago and thought I would take a look, give it a few minutes to see if anything showed up, then move on. On past trips this year as I made my way closer I was nervous for what might be. The anticipation of a possible new bird being just around the corner kept me on edge. But not this day. Not this time. There was no excitement, there was no anticipation, there were no nerves. I had already accepted fate and knew that this wasn't the year for the crooner.

Then something unexpected happened. I looked to the exact spot I last saw an Ancient Crooner, and as if I had been transported back in time, there is was. Sitting within a couple feet of where I had expected to look and see nothing. I wiped my eyes and looked again. I wasn't hallucinating--the crooner was back, and I had a new year bird. A Phoenix from the ashes so to speak. I was absolutely ecstatic. I hadn't been this excited for a year bird in quite some time. How had I gone 11 months without seeing one and then now in December when all hope was lost it was there, right in front of me?

There was no mistaking, and there were plenty of pictures to be taken. It felt like a huge relief was lifted. A free bird for December--and the streak of zero days was snapped! Year bird #354. Following the crooner were several days of otherwise unfulfilling birding. I looked, searched, scoured, and followed leads on birds trying to keep my list growing. It was all to no avail. I got 2nd and 3rd looks at a handful of species for the year. I improved my photo cache with better images, and a few birds I had yet to capture for the year. But new species weren't to be found.

I searched furiously for 2-3 species I felt I had a chance at finding. Two were birds I had missed previously this year and hoped would turn up in my end of year endeavors. But it wasn't meant to be. With the list of possibilities dwindling I chased the first reliable report of a bird I hadn't yet seen this year. It was a bit of a journey to get there, and even once I arrived in the Lantern Wasteland it seemed as if my search was frivolous. It was almost an hour before I heard the reliable call note for sure, and caught a glimpse of the Disappearing Singer. It quickly disappeared--then reappeared--then did the whole charade again. Eventually, it provided some great looks and year bird #355 was nicely tucked away.

Through the first week 2 new year birds were a good start. If I could add 2 each week for the next 3, I could reach that 360 mark I mentioned earlier int he month. It was a long ways off and there is no telling if any birds I haven't seen this year will even show up in the coming weeks. I luckily have one trick left up my sleeve--that you'll have to wait a few posts to hear about... Let's just call it the Christmas Cleanup...

New birds this post: 2
Year List: 355


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