Sunday, 26 February 2012

Chasing, Not Just Birding

So, on Saturday it was back to chasing.  There was a report of a Townsend's Solitaire in Cobourg on Friday morning - it was seen again Friday afternoon - and I had wanted to drive right there, but was suffering from some kind of 24 hour bug and between the lack of sleep the night before and Tylenol Cold Pills, I was not willing to risk a 90 minute drive for a solitary bird.  The last time I drove under adverse conditions - whiplash and a concussion after being run off the road heading to Kingston - I nearly drove off the road, heading back to Kingston, and had to get off the road, call for help, and have Sue ask me, more than once, "What made you think you could drive to Kingston with whiplash?"

I decided not to go through that again.  Besides, I was driving into a snow storm, and was feeling a wee bit dizzy.   I turned around and went home and slept all day Friday.  I felt fine Saturday morning, so off to Cobourg I went, as did a few other intrepid birders from Toronto and Port Hope, hoping for an easy look at the bird.  It was not to be.

I had been keeping in constant contact with Dennis, the gentleman who had posted the sighting the previous day, via e-mail.  He had seen the Solitaire in two locations in his neighbourhood, and had also been out for two hours that morning, with no luck.  I cruised the neighbourhood for about 20 minutes, trying to not look like a Peeping Tom, looking into various yards through my binoculars, from my car.  I eventually pulled up in front of the house on Weller Court and scanned the tree out front for the elusive bird.  No bird, but Dennis was kind enough to invite me in for tea, after I e-mailed him from in front of his house.  Dennis is a kind, friendly gentleman who has a lifetime of birding experience around the world.  He's been to places I can only dream of and it was a pleasure to take tea with him, as we swapped birding stories, and watched for the bird out his back window.

After tea, I thanked him for his hospitality and continued around the neighbourhood on foot.  I ran into a carload of Toronto Birders from Toronto, a gentleman from Port hope and another gentleman, who's name eludes me now, just as the Townsend's Solitaire eluded me on Saturday.  It might have been Craig or Greg.  Not sure.  We walked around a bit together, saw crows and gulls and goldfinches, and maybe, a brief, but doubtful look at the bird, passing between two houses.  The most we could confirm, was it was grey.

We also swapped birding stories from this winter.  He had seen Bohemian Waxwings this year, but not Cedar Waxwings, and for me it was the other way around.  He had taken the drive to North Bay, returning from Montreal, to see the White-winged Dove, while I will get it without the 4 hour drive when I return to  Florida in a couple of days.  I even have directions.

So no bird.  It probably got blown away during the snow storm.  A good chase and encounters with some very nice birders who were willing to risk part of their weekend for the mere chance at seeing a good bird.  Sometimes the chase can be just as satisfying as finding the bird.  Even when you don't find the bird, you often meet some darn nice folks.

Just as Sue and I did to today at Woodland Cemetery, (I seem to return there a lot - perhaps I should reserve a river-view spot for sometime in the future).  Sue wanted a return trip to Burlington to find the Snowy Owl and Eastern Screech Owl.  The Snowy did not show himself at Bronte Harbour, but Mr. Screech was out and happy to pose for photos from the many Birders/photographers that were there this morning, birding, not mourning.  There were so many cars lined up along the roadway we thought we might be intruding on a funeral.  Nope.  I even ran into one of the men I had met on 10th Road looking for Short-eared Owls.  He began as a nature photographer but is really enjoying the Birding too.

After Sue got her owl, we took a walk down to the Valley Inn trail hoping to see a Winter Wren, (we did hear it), and perhaps a Field Sparrow.  Apparently the Valley Inn Road/Trail is where Christmas Trees go to die and are reborn as Carp Barriers.  Who knew? We did see a Tree Sparrow that had not been reported.  It does look a bit like a spring/summer plumage Chipping Sparrow, but the Winter Chipping Sparrow is quite different, and our photo was not close enough for a positive "Chipping" ID.  So I could not count a new bird for the year, while Sue got 3, giving her 113 for the year.  I remain stuck on 210.

1 comment:

  1. How wonderful...meeting so many nice people while having such a great adventure!
    Methinks that Sue has some pretty good advice to offer. :)