Bird brained stories!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

One last bird.....

Birding for me has been so local that other than the endless Chickadees, Cardinals and Blue Jays, I feel like there's not much for me to share. Sure, I had the great good fortune in the spring to take part in the WSO field trip to see the Kirtland's Warblers, after which we hit a field with lots of shorebirds to add to The List. I think I was in such a haze for so long after that, I had nothing to say here besides...aaah!

Reports in the final days of the year kept tempting me from across the state, though. A Black-Legged Kittiwake was being seen in Port Washington, clear across the state. Should I? Or shouldn't I? I hadn't really chased any birds since the Green Breasted Mango that showed up in Beloit a couple years ago. I'd passed on so many possibilities, but maybe just this once, I could go look for another new bird.

Why not? I was able to make a reservation for a bed and breakfast near West Bend, heading out right after work, along those wonderfully dark two lane highways between here and there. I was ready for the fireplace and the fluffy duvet once I arrived at my overnight home.

Taking a leisurely pace, with coordinates for endless geocaches loaded into my GPSr in case I whiffed on the kittiwake, I headed the rest of highway 33 to Lake Michigan. While heading toward the canal, I looked up over my head, not more than 10 feet, and what do I see? Good grief, it was that easy?


I spent a good hour or more enjoying this young bird, far from its normal haunts, as it enjoyed the easy pickings from the fishermen. Chatting with one of the fishermen, he wanted to know what the heck all us binocular people were looking at anyway. He laughed and said, "Well, guess I look at him differently, cause he keeps stealing my catch!"

The year certainly was not a Big Year, or even a medium sized year for me. That's okay. I enjoyed each and every bird that let me visit, ending with a very modest life bird list of 233 North American birds. No one needs to worry about me passing them up. I take my time, observe their behavior and take photos if I'm lucky. This coming year, I will finally get to add Common Puffin to my list, a bird I've long wanted to see, and have been in places where I should have seen them, but didn't. Not taking any chances when I travel to St. Johns, Newfoundland and Labrador. We're booking a whale and puffin cruise!

Here's to good birding in the new decade.


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