Day 355 - The Late Early Christmas Present

Tuesday, December 20, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-

This morning I was in my car and driving towards the Lantern Wasteland in the dark. A delayed but reasonably reliable report came through the previous afternoon that meant I had to chase. It was only the 3rd report in Narnia this year of one of the few remaining birds I had expected to see this year. With the holiday weekend approaching, I wasn't sure I'd be able to get away and didn't want to risk waiting 4 more days anyways. So I didn't even hesitate, stopping to get gas then hitting the interstate for the 100+ minute drive. This would likely be my last visit to the wasteland this year barring a mega huge super duper unbelievable sighting in the coming week.

I had my typical anxiety the entire drive--the what ifs did their usual cycle through my head, and by the time I reached my destination I wasn't sure what was going to happen. At my very first turn there were birds, and then at my second, and third. There were plenty of birds to look at, but every single species that popped into my field of view was something I had seen this year already. I only had a 90-minute window, and pretty soon I had eaten up 60 of those minutes. I read the report again and about lost my shit. I had misinterpreted the directions and was actually about 2 miles from where the bird was reported. Crap.

I hurried my way down the road, and as I came to the area that was correctly described in the original message, I heard the unmistakable zipping of Northern False-zipper! Year bird #357, but it was the only time I would hear it. I saw the bird once and managed a pretty awful shot, but I also managed to stretch my time out an extra 30 minutes--something that would have a huge impact on my day. In that last 30 minute stretch while I was searching for the False-zipper I caught a flash in my binoculars. I knew that pattern anywhere, and I followed it gleefully--it was Christmas come early with my first Christmas Present of the year. Yes, this bird is called the Christmas Present given its affinity for showing up in Narnia right around Christmas most years.

I made sure to get a couple shots as the bird kept buzzing around and soon disappeared into a field. Year bird #358. December 20th would go down as yet another 2 new year bird day. Pretty remarkable for the last 2 weeks of the year. In my previous big year, I also picked up both these species on the same day--less than 5 miles away as the Present and False-zipper fly, but almost 11 months earlier in the year. A late, early Christmas Present in 2016! I was starting to worry that these typically annual winter arrivals were going to leave me with a hole in my list that I had expected to pick up easy. It wasn't nearly as easy as I hoped, but given that both birds were seen in an hour window, it wasn't too difficult either. All that mattered now is I had them and was just 2 species away from 360 for the year.

The drive back to civilization went quickly--when a chase is successful it usually does. These two birds were the easiest remnants for my year, meaning anything else would either be unexpected or some kind of miracle (maybe both). It's hard not to think about getting two more species in the final 11 days. It is possible, but may not be feasible given the busy weekend on its way. I'll keep my fingers crossed that maybe Santa has a couple more Christmas presents for me--maybe in the variety of a few other species of birds to end my year on a real high note!

New birds today: 2
Year List: 358


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