The Business Birder:
Forced Down in
Somewhere between Raleigh and Lubbock, I lost springtime
and sunshine. I had just signed a new
I flew in on Sunday and stopped by a lake, just off
I saw some good birds, including: Redhead, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, and
Ruddy Duck. After checking into
the hotel, I visited Buffalo Springs canyon and lake,
a little southeast of
On Monday morning it had begun to drizzle and freeze; freeze and drizzle. Funny how those words just seem to go together. The trees were coated with ice. Can you say “pea soup”? I knew you could.
After work, I braved the elements and visited
After work on Tuesday, I had limited time due to the fact that fog was settling in. I returned to the first site. I could not see well out on the lake but could make out several..…..you guessed it….Northern Shovelers! As I drove around the lake, I checked all of the black birds. I could see the birds at the front of the reeds clearly but the fog partially hid the birds in the back.
How many times have I scanned a flock of black birds, hoping to see a Yellow-headed Blackbird? I cannot do the math. There he was. In the middle-distanced reeds, among several hundred Red-winged Blackbirds. “Startling” is the only word that comes to mind. The fog did not disguise him, yet the fog gave him an eerie look. A Yellow-headed ghost! A needle in a haystack.
Quickly he disappeared into the rushes. I scanned until almost dark, wondering if my mind had played a trick on me. I circled the lake again and returned to find the flock gone. So on Wednesday morning before work, I was at the lake for sunrise.
Of course, I never saw sun but it got light enough to see the birds and the fog had lifted. A few hundred blackbirds greeted me. There is nothing as beautiful as the cacophony of hundreds of Red-winged Blackbirds! The birds kept coming. Hundreds more that the previous night. After a few minutes of scanning, I found him or possibly his cousin. A little to the left I found another. Wow, two!
This time the Yellow-headed Blackbird perched at the top of the reeds, tilted his head back, and sat there singing at the top of his lungs for several minutes! It is not like he could have been heard.
If you go, the
The trip turned out to be one of my most enjoyable ever. Had the “fowl” weather forced down some good birds? Was I just in the right place at the right time? Or had God smiled down on the Business Birder?
The author, John Ennis, is a full time healthcare
consultant and a part time birder, who wishes that it were the other way
around. He lives in the
(During a subsequent visit, I discovered the Llano
Estacado Audubon Society, located in
John B. Ennis ă 2001