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!

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