As a condition, I had to make some necessary stops, and thereafter she decided that we needed to stop for lunch. We sat down and ordered, and the waiter brought me a beer. It was an excellent Smuttynose Seasonal, which I had all of one sip before Liz blurted out: “There is a Corn Crake at Cedar Beach!”
Normally this sort of news would make me convulse violently. Coming from Liz though, who is a notorious tormentor that delights in making up stuff like this to irritate me, I did not immediately react. She read the message from Sue & Ken Kestrel which said: “A Corn Crake (this is no joke) is currently feeding on the north shoulder of the Ocean Parkway east of the Cedar Beach marina...” Imagine: Craking a joke!. ...Ahem. Then the phone began to ring from one after another fellow birders passing along the word of this incredible discovery.
Our food had not come, and I explained that this was very much a MEGA rarity. So without missing a beat Liz ran over to the waiter and informed him of our situation. They were happy to pack the food to go, but were a bit curious as to why a bird could do this to us. My dilemma was my beer. I am no guzzler, I much prefer to enjoy a beer rather than have it pass ineffectually over my tongue. They accommodated me by placing the rest of it in a soup container! Liz ever so delightfully remarked that it looked like a urine sample.
Food secured and bill paid, we beat a hasty retreat. More calls were fielded, while Waze navigated us through unfamiliar streets to hasten our getting to the bird’s location. Of clear benefit, it told of police locations, or more importantly, ~lack~ of police locations, allowing the car to move along more rapidly than customarily permitted.
It seems that Ken spotted the bird while driving by, and almost wrote it off as a snipe or such, and went back for a better look after considering ignoring it and just continuing on. A graduate of the Evelyn Wood Speed Birding course no doubt, and we’re glad he gave it a second look!
The exact location may not have been known, but the line of cars on the median sure helped! At the front of the line scopes were trained on the bird and one after another birder was delighted by a bird that so many remarked things such as: ‘I never thought I’d see this bird here’, or ‘ I had written this bird off as a possibility’. Remarkable to me was the number of world birders present for whom this was a lifer. Holy cow!
With declining populations in its typical habitat, and the last sighting in New York having been in the sixties, this was more than a surprise. As of now the bird has graced us with a second day of its presence, much to the delight of birders who are coming from all over. Hopefully the site can be successfully managed for birders, traffic, and the constabulary.
Of note, this is for me a lifer like so many others present. NYS 418. ABA 718. And to think I arrived with a prescient draft celebratory beer in hand!