Saturday, August 2, 2014

Sometimes Luck is the Key to Birding Success

I generally consider myself to be a lucky birder when it comes to chasing rare of unusual birds. I’ve had some misses over the years but the successful chases outnumber the unsuccessful. All birders know that in order to see the really good, unusual, and rare ones a certain amount of good luck has to be attained. But birders also know that there will be those times when it’s just not your day to find what you are looking for. Last Saturday was a painful reminder of that for me.
I have a list of birds that I designated as possible or even likely misses this year in my quest to see two-hundred and five species in Mecklenburg County. One of those is the Eurasian collared-dove. This large dove is scarce in Mecklenburg County. Over the years there have been just a couple of dependable spots to find them. Unfortunately those sites are no longer reliable so I knew finding one was going to be a challenge.
I heard reports that up to three doves were being seem sporadically at a feeder in Starmount, off South Boulevard. I contacted the hosts who said that the birds had not been seen in a few days but I was welcome to come take a look. I did, and waited about forty-five minutes with no success.  Fifteen minutes after departing I received the phone call. All three birds had appeared and were at the feeders. By then I was down South Boulevard in Pineville but hastily turned around to head back. In the short time that I had passed over I-485 going south and turned around back north a wreck had occurred and had traffic backed way up. I had to figure out how to get around the backup, and did so by going back to Pineville, catching Downs Road over to Westinghouse Boulevard and then over to South Boulevard. In all it slowed me down only about fifteen minutes, but plenty long enough for the birds to eat their fill and depart a few minutes before I arrived back at the site.

I feel pretty good that eventually I’ll get that species if it keeps coming to the feeders, but I haven’t heard back from the hosts that the birds are still around. Keeping my fingers crossed on this one.
Eurasian collared-dove by Jeff Lewis