A lot of this year has been spent in the field, naturally. Where else to see all the birds? However, in order to get into the field, and far afield, to such places as Florida, Louisiana, Arizona etc etc etc, a lot of planning is involved. And yesterday I planned on staying indoors in order to plan the next 2 weeks. My head was spinning, frankly, and I don't doubt it might spin right off my neck in short order. Of course, Sue is convinced I have flipped my lid and any chance of recovery prior to December 31, 2011 is very unlikely. I spent most of the afternoon making flight, rental car, hotel reservations and Pelagic reservations for Florida and Louisiana, where I will be attending the Yellow Rails and Rice festival and hoping to see a few other good year birds, in addition to the rails.
By mid afternoon I was feeling cooped up and decided to take a walk in the woods and just look at local birds in James Gardens. However, while I was looking at sparrows and kinglets, my iPhone dinged with an e-mail with an Ontbirds report of a Townsand's Solitaire being seen by Josh Vandermeulen out at Van Wagner's Beach, across from Hutch's between the two ponds.
I ran back to the car, battled westbound rush hour traffic and made the 35 minute drive in just under an hour. I arrived shortly after a small group of other chaser-birders, and just before a couple of enthusiastic kids who also wanted to see the Solitaire, a rare visitor to to the east. I had chased and missed one last winter, so I was hoping I wasn't too late. I asked the first birder I saw if they were seeing the bird and he told me it had just disappeared into a thicket a few minutes before I arrived. Great. Late again.
But, in this case, less than 10 minutes after I arrived the Solitaire appeared atop the thicket. I pointed, and all heads turned to see the bird alight and fly slowly enough across the path and to the other side, giving everyone present very good looks at the bird. I was too enthralled to think of taking a photo, as had I tried I'd have not had a good look at it and doubt I'd have taken a good photo. I was hoping it would appear again, but only had one quick fly-by with another late arriving birder after the rest of the folks had left. It was fun to chase after a bird again and run into a few of the local Hamilton/Niagara birders I have been seeing on and off over the past 9 months.
This afternoon, I am heading north for Boreal Owls and perhaps one or two other boreal species. Then Tuesday am flying to the Tampa area and birding there for a few days, after I finish my work portion of the trip. Then it's down to Miami and Key West, then to Louisiana for rails and such speciality birds as Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch and Bachman's Sparrow.