Friday, March 20, 2015

And The Goose Went Poof

If its Thursday, I must be birding has now grown to include Tuesdays and the weekends.  I have changed my schedule in such a way that I have freed up more time for myself, while still permitting me to be {ahem} responsible. Of note, while I have been birding for 40 years more or less, lately I have been devoting much more time to it than ever before. And I like it.

So the other day on a birding outing I made the casual lament that I had missed Ross’s Goose this year, to Phil Jabiru. In perfect harmony with the “Law of Casual Incantation” the next day I started to receive emails reporting ~two~ of them up in Orange County. Thanks to the good folks up that way, reports were circulated so that birders throughout the state could enjoy these bird as well if they so chose. How nice is that!

So on winter’s last day March 19, 2015, Phil, Capt’n Bob, and I made a trip up there for a color morph, lifer, and year bird respectively. The traffic as usual gave us something to complain about, but the day was spectacularly sunny and beautiful. The cold and wind were a bit unexpected based upon the recent warming, but not too bad. Especially since today is now the first day of spring and it is threatening to be more like winter. Go figure: the weather, ergo god, is capricious. Maybe those that claim that god is a woman are correct! <g>

We made are way to the reported location even after a few missed turns by Bob, finding both the large flock and a group of birders already on the birds. After some hellos, we tried to set up scopes for views of our own next to John H, locator of said bird and AKA ‘The Hound of the Basherkill’.  Unfortunately Phil’s beard scared them away { that’s my story and I’m sticking with it } and the flock of thousands (2000-3000?) of Snow Geese, as many as 27 Blue Geese, and a smattering of Canada Geese  took off further a field.

Utter disappointment at that moment was averted by our being alerted to the presence of three Meadowlarks on the lawn area in front of us, for YB1.

Unfortunately, the heat distortion and the distance to where the geese settled made viewing them a challenge. The other birders moved further down the road for a better vantage, while we availed ourselves of a fortuitously placed port-a-pissour.

When we sidled up to them, the blue morph “Ross’s had been found and we were all able to get looks. Again, the distance and heat distortion was less than optimal, but its not the first time nor presumably the last time, that I will have seen a Ross’s goose. Not every sighting has to be the best sighting or a photographic opportunity.

Satisfied and having to adhere to a schedule for return home, we declined to look for the white one in the difficult conditions, thanked our fellow birders for the help in locating our quarry and continued on our way. YB2.   ...?

I made a day list of the species we had seen, and also posted a report to the NYS list such that other interested parties might be kept up to date on the geese. But the commotion also attracted the attention of various other species of birders...

One notable species attracted was the Kill-Jay {partius pooperus} who after looking at the photos of the blue morph Ross's Goose on John’s blog, determined that it was actually a GASP hybrid. Hearing this, the birds countability died. We tried resuscitation, and in its weakened state the bird did its best to repeat after us: “one two three”, but it could no longer count. Dang. The loud POOF as the bird disappeared was deafening.

But why can’t you count a hybrid? Technically its two birds, not zero. Is it because some industrious lister hoping to game the rules will seek out hybrids, and thereby be able to count two birds for every one seen? Oh the huge manatees.

This turn of events prompted John to email me. “I'm sorry you came all this way for nothing.” I however, saw absolutely no need for this condolence. I had a pleasant road trip upstate with some friends, ran into more friends, saw some nice birds in a nice location. What’s not to like? 

For the holier than thou so called ‘green’ birder types out there, I lament that you will not be able to let yourself enjoy for example, a cruise on a motorcycle on a winding and scenic road upstate just for the pleasure of it. Mmmmm. 

Despite however much I might wish it were so, I accept that I cannot always get every bird I chase. I suppose that if all one can focus upon is this success or failure, and not be able to also enjoy the process, then I can see why those who focus on only that criteria, ‘hate’ chasing birds. 

Not me!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Two On Tuesday, But Will It Be A Mewsing?

No time for a more ambitious day of birding, I set off for Brooklyn in hopes of plugging a few holes in my year list. Most desired was Mew Gull, but reports of Glaucous lured me as well.

The later has been a bit frustrating; one present at Shinnecock before the new year was quite reliable. That is, until the new year dawned and it was hit or miss. Guess which one applied to me to date. I have checked for it oh so many times; fortunately I like to bird Shinnecock a lot, excellent place that it is.

Phil Jabiru stopped by to pick me up in the morning and we set off for Gravesend Bay. I touched base with Capt’n Bob, and he planned to meet us there, that is weather and traffic permitting. The day started off raining, but as we headed west it tapered off to a drizzle. The traffic on the other hand, worsened.

About the time we got to the eastern edge of Brooklyn, Bob called to tell us he had a large all white bird staked out in the lot at Caesar’s Bay shopping center. Great I said. But Bob told us he was doing his best to keep people from walking or driving through the flock of resting gulls. We hoped to make it there before it was flushed.

After dodging volume, rubbernecking, and construction delays, we approached Bay Parkway. Bob called again to tell us to look to our left as we drove down the road. Good advice, as we were able to get a clear look at a nice immature Glaucous Gull standing in the lot. YB1. Nothing beats a retired cop guarding a bird for you!

Imm. Glaucous Gull

We continued into the lot and over to Bob, and proceeded to take some photos of the cooperative bird. All white, it is one of my favorite gulls, but in breeding plumage even the lowly and despised Herring Gull is a looker.

Timing and luck count. Within a few minutes of our arrival and papparazzoing, the whole flock lifted off and flew away. Phew!

We walked over to the waters edge, and perused the birds thereabouts. As expected, many Ring-billed Gulls in various age plumage were all about. There were a lot of water fowl as well, and close in to shore too.  Unfortunately, the bay was also full of a lot of horrid flotsam and it was sad and pathetic to see.

Bob graciously decided to drive his car to the furthest lot west of us, and meet us there, while Phil and I continued west. This meant we would not have to walk all the way back. Along the way Bufflehead,  gulls and Black Duck were cooperative photographic subjects.

Black duck

One of the gulls had me puzzled though. It appeared to be a first winter Ring-billed Gull, but everything about it was distinctly larger than the adults next to it. Try as I might to determine if it was something else, I could not. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable than I will assist if it is in fact something else.

The immature bird at the left-rear side was much larger than the adult bird. .... Is it just an unusually large immature RBGU?

Also found along the way by Phil was a Purple Sandpiper, the first of what would be nine by the time we reached the end. Another nice sighting was a Bonaparte’s Gull, two more year birds for Phil. Interestingly, we did not see a Great Black-backed Gull!

Purple Sandpiper

Nor did we see a Mew Gull. Back in 2010 one was found in essentially the same place, and was really reliable and easy to find. Back then I met Bob and we walked over the foot bridge by Bay 16th Street but before we got off of it we already spotted the bird. Not so for either of the apparently two different birds found once again by the same person as the first one in 2010. Some call him the gull whisperer, I've called him a mewtant, but either way we should say Danke Shane. I have thoughts of returning for another attempt but with a bicycle so that the area can be more thoroughly and easily covered.

Back at Phil’s car, we decided to try for some more Brooklyn stuff with our remaining time. We followed Bob to Monk Parakeets for YB2. Both Phil and I had tried some places in Nassau and Suffolk for the 'keets, but neither of us had success until these perennially reliable birds.

Our final stop was at Prospect Park. European Goldfinch had been reported, and what the heck, not countable, but it would have been a nice bird nevertheless. We didn’t find it, but our day was pretty successful any way you slice it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sightings is Golden

I had already made two trips so far this year trying for Golden Eagle. In the first, trying for some owls earlier in the day proved more difficult than anticipated, and did not leave enough time to get both the eagles and home on time.

In the second attempt, the ungrateful bugger never showed up. Of course we again did not have unlimited time to spend waiting for it, and its most regular observer Gerhard joined us and told us this one had become more unreliable.  Groan

Hoping to break my losing streak, I set off March 10, 2015 with Phil Jabiru and we gave it another try, this time at another location in Dutchess County reputed to be ‘the place’.

We headed down the highway, "enjoying" the slow ride due to the roving pothole repair crews. I suppose I should be happy that they are filling them, but we both remarked that it would be nice if they did so overnight when they were not slowing everybody down.  Eventually though, we passed them and thereafter made good headway.

With the temperatures warming up, a lot of snow was already melted off of the shoulders of the roads. It was nice to be able to see the grass beneath, but it also revealed a gruesome reality. Every few miles there was a dead bird uncovered from the no longer present snow. Most of them were Canada Geese, and a few Ring-billed Gulls, of the ones I could see and or make out. I’m sure the harsh conditions took a tremendous toll on many birds trying to wait out the conditions around here.

The roads upstate near our destination were bucolic and oh so different from the suburban sprawl of Lawn Guyland. Oh well, its one or the other. But with nice mountain ridges, {I’m sure my friends from the west coast would scoff at the term ‘mountains’ as compared to theirs} it is home to species that are not as prevalent on the island; though that may not always be the case! Ravens have repeatedly nested as have Bald Eagles, so can Golden Eagles be far off?

Just before our intended stop, we perused a house with a feeder. Tree Sparrows, Juncos, and Cardinals were evident; but Phil looked over and spotted a Ring-necked Pheasant hiding under a tree with bittersweet vine tangles. A surprise YB1 for both of us!

Continuing on a short way, we set up scopes on Benson Road. {41.728414, -73.553549 } This is a good spot because it is a dead end. The other roads with a view of the ridge were traveled by cars and without any places to pull over. Looking around, I was hoping for some action but it was quiet except for crows flying and crowing all around, and the sound of gun-fire at a range nearby.

Eventually, more stuff started to show. First a House Finch landed at the top of a tree that Phil was happy to hear, very pleased with the new hearing aids he just gotten. I had to check it in my scope as I had forgotten to pack my glasses. Doh!

And fortunately for me the birds that started to make appearances were soaring instead of perching so the scope was a fine choice. But I felt so naked, and several times reached down for my imaginary glasses that were not around my neck. Needless to say, I packed them in the optics bag first thing upon returning home.

Then we heard croaking in addition to cawing, and soon we had a Raven flying by with what appeared to be nesting materials. And the Red-tailed Hawks started flying, and soon the air was way more filled than when we arrived. They must be union and were on their coffee break when we arrived.

Another bird showed up, and it was large and got us excited. But we looked at the young bird and saw that the markings were of a Bald Eagle, and not of our primary target bird. For the umpteenth time, its amazing how the Bald Eagles have really made a remarkable comeback. Its getting so seeing one on just about most trips is getting to be common. Yippee!

So we looked and looked. Phil spotted a raptor in a tree south and east of where we were, along the ridge. I got my scope on it and it was another Red-tailed Hawk. But Phil was looking through his glasses, and with the wider field of view saw another bird fly up that was much larger. Getting me on the bird, we looked and got great looks at a Golden Eagle!  YB2 for us both and a lifer for Phil!

This time, while still a distance off, it was not nearly as far away as the Storm King bird.  And the bird deigned to perch nicely for us showing off first one side then the other, and lifting its wings for us to see the underside. A truly accommodating bird.

Satisfied with our success, we sought out another year bird Phil gleaned from ebird.  We headed across the river to Ulster County where there was a Red-headed Woodpecker. On the way, and while stopped at a light, a raptor flew across the road in front of us and landed in a tree. We got cursory looks as we had to drive by, hounded by the non birders behind us. Sheesh, can’t a birder get a break? Nope, not on a busy road. So we got quick looks at a Red-shouldered Hawk, but far from satisfying ones.

Making our way to the required location, it was not until the final turn that I recognized the road and realized I had been here before. It was one week later, but two years earlier in this same flooded marsh on Weston Road. {41.789741,-74.02462}

Finding a stretch where we could pull off, we looked and listened for the Red-headed, but all we heard was a Red-bellied.  But before too long, we saw our target and I have to say that no other woodpecker gets me quite as jazzed as this bird. What a great looking bird! And YB3.

The ride home was mostly uneventful, except for another Red-shouldered hawk that landed in the tree along side us. I got a quick look and alerted Phil, but he was busy looking at his iPhone. Kids today... sheesh.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Evening Grosbeaks On An Epic Journey Upstate

With choices to make about the last weekend of February several were thrown up in the air. I was leaning towards Montauk Point, but a fateful encounter with Bob Prothonotary got the subconscious juices flowing.

Phil Jabiru and I encountered him and his buddy Ed Thrasher at Jones Beach while we were doing some casual birding the previous Thursday. Casual and expected species were augmented by a few desired year species. Starting with a Fox Sparrow ( named due to its habit of being a complete bullshit artist and complaining that universal healthcare is somehow a bad thing ) that paraded unabashedly on the lawn adjacent to the police station. YB1.  We then proceeded to the Coast Guard Station where we located a Saw Whet Owl. Others were present, and I did my best to prevent anyone from licking the bird.

We also walked the median and searched the lots and were amazed by the huge numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers. There were good numbers of Juncos as well, and some Tree, Song, and White-throated Sparrows for good measure.

In hopes of getting better looks at the Northern Goshawk that has persisted but been mostly an elusive to rapid flyby, we drove around a bit. This payed off in spotting the rare-this-year Red-breasted Nuthatch. It displayed nicely for me! YB2.

Running into Bob and Ed again, Bob told me his experience recently upstate. He got the Tufted Duck but missed the Evening Grosbeaks. He provided lots of info, but also that he flew upstate. Phil and I then took off to check other places.

In typical Goshawk style, as Phil and I departed the west end section, we saw the Goshawk fly by on the other side of the road. Oh well, another view for me, and a lifer for Phil: not bad. But both of us wanted a perched view as so few have stumbled across. As far as other discoveries, we picked a lone Redpoll out of a flock of Goldfinches at Oak Beach.

Ruminating on Friday, I plotted the coordinates on a map and realized that it was a mere 250 miles. Need to fly there? Piffle! The next day I consulted with co-conspirators Arlene and Phil, and a plan was hatched. It is such a pleasure to have the company of those that don't need to be convinced or coerced, and it doesn't hurt if they are just as craz... er,.. enthusiastic. 

Checking with the regional listserves, I put together a plan. First stop, Evening Grosbeaks at the home of the warm and lovely Linda Salter, Cayuga Lake for Tufted Duck and then Trumpeter Swans, and finally over to the other side of the lake for Gyrfalcon.

Folks on that list were helpful. But...

I saw the following exchange on the Cayuga listserve, and was quite taken aback by it. It is a public forum, so I have just cut and pasted the exchange below. The ‘weird’ characters are from the website, not me.

I was piqued by the incongruity of their participation in a listserve designed to share bird sighting information, while “proudly” proclaiming their selfishness. I don’t get it.

If I were to call someone selfish, I cannot envision a scenario in which they would take that epithet as a positive, nor a circumstance in which I could mean it as a positive. This person is apparently an exception.

They go on to say: “More importantly for me, I really don’t want to have a bunch of other birders (even my friends) show up and interfere with that very personal interaction.”

I am so curious to find out the reaction of the so called friends referred to in that statement. Perhaps I am reading it incorrectly, but to my ear it says: “sorry friend, you would have ruined it for me”. Ouch.

I can understand how a mob of people gawking at a bird can at times be off-putting, but to say: “even my friends”? Wow. I suppose a  true friend would accept them as they are; but in my experience ‘true’ friends are very rare and hard to find. Perhaps this person is blessed with true friends. Or is a misanthrope, take your pick.

What was also ironic to me, was that they signed their email with their professional credentials which included working for “Public Engagement in Science Program” at the Cornell lab of Ornithology. Huh? Is that not the epitome of ironic?

Other thoughts that occurred to me were, what would my boss say if they read this statement, and what would a member of the public say if they participated in one of their programs and later read the statement.

For myself, birding is the pleasure derived from observing birds, but with various levels of joy depending on the circumstance. For instance, seeing a bird is good while seeing a special bird, perhaps a rarity for example, may be more exciting. Better still, is being the individual to first locate a bird, and finally, the best by far is when you can share that experience with others.

From time to time I have run across birders who prefer to bird alone for one reason or another. Surely there is something meditative about doing certain things alone.

I have also found that there is a ‘golden number’ of people to bird with, perhaps no more than 6 total. Even one person in addition to myself and more birds are found; (you can’t be looking everywhere at once. ) But as the number of people increases, there is a tendency for groups of people to split off, and if it is a organized birding walk, many leaders have amusingly referred to it as ‘herding cats’ - an example of diminishing returns.

So as far as reporting birds and sharing that information, it seems only right that if you glean information that you should also reciprocate. Truly a small price to pay. A candle doesn’t lose anything by lighting another candle. Unless you are a selfish candle and you want to keep others in the dark? 

see for yourself below...

Hello All,

I was stimulated by Dave’s well-written email to offer an anti-rant. (And, Dave, please keep your rants coming, because I do enjoy reading them!) Maybe the fact that I don’t have a cell phone and rarely carry my little trac-fone with me says a lot about how I approach birding. Encounters with birds, rare or common, are very personal for me. I think it is great that others get so excited about chasing birds that others have reported, but that is not for me. More importantly for me, I really don’t want to have a bunch of other birders (even my friends) show up and interfere with that very personal interaction. If that is selfish, then I guess I’ll wear that label proudly. I am a scientists (both ecological and social) and a conservationist, yet I am reluctant to submit my sightings to eBird because I don’t want my personal experiences to be treated as data by others. I know I’m a bit weird about all this compared to most people. I still have not chased the Tufted Duck, which I’ve never seen in my life. There was a White-eyed Vireo on the other side of the Lab of O pond for three days a year or so ago and I never trekked the 150 yards out to see it. Please don’t think I am an anti-lister, either. I recently was in CA for work and passed the 500 species in the US mark (Surfbird) pointed out to me by Brian Sullivan (along with my life Black-vented Shearwater, Common Murre, Rhinoceros Auklet, and Pacific Loon -- see I do go birding with others sometimes!). Soon after Brian left, I stumbled upon a bird I did not recognize other than to know it was some kind of sandpiper-ish bird. I sat for a half hour taking notes, drawing pictures, and taking a few pictures. Then I had to go do work. Later that night I was excited to find out that I had encountered a Wandering Tattler (#501 in the US for me; California Thrasher was my last new one at #502 and California Condor had been #489 ). I did send Brian and a couple other CA birders a couple pictures for confirmation. But, I was thrilled and felt a real sense of discovery because I encountered the bird on my own and had a half hour to really observe it by myself. I know that is a very different experience than the ones desired by other birders. And, I totally support Dave’s point of view and do encourage others to share their sightings if they want to. Just please don’t expect me to want to 😊!

Thanks Dave for stimulating this discussion.


Jody W. Enck, PhD
Public Engagement in Science Program
Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Hey, everybody!
I know seeing a rare bird is tremendously exciting, and I certainly wouldn't have wanted Mark to miss seeing the chase & interactions or getting those fantastic photos (plus congratulations on a fantastic life bird!). But please if at all possible before leaving a rare bird try to get word out on the text message rare bird alert system. If you are not on the text alert system, or don't want to take your eyes off the bird long enough to text about it, call someone else and have them put the word out. There were people in the field yesterday afternoon who also had been trying to find the Gyrfalcon and could've returned quickly. A Gyrfalcon was also seen two other times this winter with no text RBA sent out. But when Tim Lenz did get the word out after a few minutes of viewing at least 6 additional birders got to see it that morning.
Similarly the Tufted Duck has been quietly seen recently when there was a guy from out of town who was asking about it. I know it may seem like old news, but these are still rare birds that people would love to get a chance to see. Thanks.

--Dave Nutter

But I digress.

So we departed my house at 4:30 am. Ouch. But worth it. We got off the island and away from potential traffic so we would not be delayed in our quest.  And the lack of traffic persisted throughout the day and even up until we got back to 287 in Rockland County that night!

Looking at the map, I thought it best to take the major highways for speed and ease of travel, but the GPS said the fastest route was to bail off of 17 { eventually to be renamed I-86 } in Roscoe and take 206. There were ever so minor diminution of speed as we passed through the occasional town where the speed limit is 30, but again there was virtually NO traffic and we traveled unimpeded.

The trip kinda reminded me of some trips upstate in the past with my friend Jared, { yes Jean, he really does exist } where he would keep an eye on the map and inform me of each upcoming turn while I drove at my non lackadaisical rate of speed. This route also exposed us to the splendor of the countryside that is upstate New York. Add to that exceptionally clear conditions offering breathtaking vistas, a blanket of pure white snow everywhere except the roads, and the brilliant sunshine, and the travel experience in and of itself was worth it.   

One of the most beautiful sights of the  trip was when we passed through the town of Walton. The west branch of the Delaware ran through the town, and the vapors rising off of the river coated the trees making the coated trees glisten in the golden sunshine. I regret not stopping to take a photo.

At times however, I questioned the sanity of he GPS because the route called for frequent turns: every 5-10 miles was a turn left or turn right. But checking the overall progress showed that we were on track.

And making great time. I had heard from Bob Prothonotary that the Evening Grosbeaks were reputed to visit Linda in the morning only, and that he arrived too late and unfortunately did not get to see them. 

With a target arrival time between 10 and 10:30, our arrival at 9:30 was great. Linda also said that the birds were not being seen in the afternoon or later, so morning was best. We met two local birders who had been there since 7am, and saw them at that time. But they relayed that the birds had not returned since, and it was time for them to move on for their other targets.

Come 10 am or so, I spotted some lumps high in the trees in front of Linda's home. As she had informed me the day before, the birds would typically stop in those trees before venturing down to the feeders. YB1 [ du jour ], and lifers for Arlene and Phil.  Linda also ascribed the furtiveness to the presence of Goshawks.

Phil wanted to see a Gos to make up for the BVD view two days prior, but they were not located. We got to see four female and two beautiful male evening Grosbeaks, so no one was complaining. With daylight burning, we set off for our next destination.  It was so nice to visit with Linda again. What a lovely and generous woman. 

Did I mention it was very cold?  The thermometer in the car had single digit readings for most of the way once we were past Westchester.  At one point it said 0, and we wondered if negative temps were a limitation of the car's software. Linda told us it had been 10 below zero that morning at her home!

I mention this because we were going to a lake. Would it be open or frozen? It was frozen at our first stop. But the most recent sighting location of the Tufted Duck had small open patches, dominated by the most Redhead Ducks I have ever seen. There were some Canvasback, Ring-necked, Lesser Scaup, and Buffleheads, but not our quarry. We checked a few other locations but again, no TUDU. We did add Common Goldeneye, Pintail, and Coot, but a dip on the TUDU. Maybe it should be called the Tuff duck just like Cap't Bob does?

Interestingly, there were Tundra Swans everywhere. Interesting, because in 2013 when I was also trying to do a big year { crap, am I doing a big year again? } all I could find were Trumpeters, and no Tundras! We did locate a secretive Sharpie hopping around under a shrub, perhaps trying to keep its kill a secret from those who might want to abscond with it, and an immature Bald Eagle. We ended up seeing at least 5 eagles. My they are recovering nicely!

We continued north up to Union Springs where we were seeking reported Trumpeter Swans. What we found was a quaint mill pond full of water fowl, but no Trumpeter Swans. A nice consolation was a Red-necked Grebe.

Before stopping here we scanned an impressively large flock of waterfowl in Aurora. Had we more time we would have set up scopes in a vain attempt to pick out something good from the multitudes of Goldeneye, Scaup, and Redheads.  But limitless time we did not have. This was a day trip, and we made haste for our next stop after satisfying ourselves that we gave this spot a good going over.

On the other side of the lake we found others standing vigil, hoping to locate the reported Gyrfalcon. No luck so far, but I did recognize a fellow from another club that I had met at the ABA summit in Delaware. He told me his name { again } but of course I have already forgotten it. We decided to drive the roads a bit and see if we might get lucky this way rather than staying in one spot.

We located some Red-tailed Hawks, and a Coopers Hawk, but little else. Surprisingly, we did not even see a Turkey Vulture all day! I suppose they are discouraged by the omnipresent and numerous Crows.

Winding our way back to the others, we passed others cruising for a falconing, but conferring with them only turned up the disappointment. We stopped back at the original stake-out, and I ran in to two ladies I met looking for a Henslow's Sparrow in Brooklyn, as well as in the backyard of a fine 12 year old birder in Mount Sinai who had a visiting Bohemian Waxwing. They were from Buffalo, and members of the Buffalo Ornithological Society.  And while I cannot recall their names { jeez, birders should wear name tags! } I do recall them telling me their newsletter is the Prothonotary, which I told them should more appropriately be called the 'Buffalo Wing'.

Besides trading hellos and clever quips, they told me they had just had a Northern Shrike a short distance down the road.  Needless to say, I thanked them, gathered the troops, and headed off in search of the beast. I had been remarking from time to time on the journey upstate that the habitat looked so good for Shrike, and I was surprised by there having been so few reports to date.

We found the location; it being staked out by others who stated this was another known good location for the Gyr. We inquired if they had the Shrike, but they did not. Scanning with naked eyes the opposite side of the field,  I found a Red-tailed, and then a bright spot caught my eye. Getting my scope on it confirmed I had located the Shrike. Yes! YB2

Arlene was impressed with my picking it out at that distance, but I reminded her that a: I have looked for shrikes before so knew what to look for, and b: it was sitting facing us, with the sun at our back; the brightness of it's breast quite a beacon and in many ways despite the distance, hard to miss.  And a nice consolation for having dipped on the other birds.

The birder next to me, Arlo maybe? had his two young sons in tow, and they were playing in the cold yet bearable conditions: bright sun and ~no~ wind!!!. He asked one of them if he wanted to see the shrike. The boy was less than enthused. Ah youth, and concomitant lack of focus. Good thing it was not a school trip or we would be mandated to administer Ritalin.