Date: 5/14/18 9:42 pm
From: CK Franklin <meshoppen...>
Subject: Birdathon team report--Pulaski Chicks Love Birds
Saturday, May 12#BirdLR Birdathon Pulaski Chicks Love Birds Good Deed of the Day

My day started at 4AM when the alarm rings. How many times have I said to myself I need a different hobby in the next life, one that does not have me getting up in the middle of the night. Half awake I'm running on routine and rote memory. Shower. Get dressed. Caffeine. A leftover scone. Fix a hot drink for the road. Ice the later caffeine and the water bottles for when the afternoon sun has turned the car into a slow cooker.

All cat eyes are on alert. Their little cat brains know when the servants get up this early, they will be on their own for some time to come. Where did the humans hide those infernal suitcases? Early breakfast for them is not in their routine. A sniff and a snub, they barely eat as they watch.

I load the car with all the accoutrements of this hobby. Books, binocs, scope, bug spray, ice chest, cameras. I am taking too much as usual. Lock the doors at 5:45 and head out. I check my email. Dan & his group are already on the road & reporting species. Showoffs.

The commuter lot at 630 & Shakleford is busy at 6AM. People are milling around a tour bus at the other end of the lot. I didn't pay too much attention. Either a trip is about to leave or it's the Tunica bus. Either way it doesn't concern me.

Donna and Ann arrive a couple of minutes after me. We decide to take Ann's car and begin to load our stuff. We are about done when someone asks us if we are going fishing. An older African-American woman in poor-ish health is standing there. Ah, it was the Tunica bus. She makes a few more observations in a too loud voice, & I know I'm being mildly hustled but I don't mind. Decades of home health nursing says she can't walk too far & there's no car around to pick her up. We ask if someone is coming to pick her up. Her son is out of town & she needs to get to the bus stop at the Shell Station about a half mile away. The half mile involves a steep little hill she is in no shape to climb.

There's no threat, just need.

"Yeah, I'll ride you over there."

My bird buddies decide to play along. Ann tells her to hop in and we will all go together. The sun is coming up and karma is smiling on us. It's going to be a good day. Just before we get to the Shell, we pass another slightly younger African-American woman using a walker to make her way to the bus stop. Our passenger says she was on the bus, too. Another Tunica refuge. We let the lady out and wish her well and she does the same.

Our bird day begins. We work that rump of Pulaski County east of the Arkansas and south of I-440 all the way to the county line south and west of England. We have the land and the river to ourselves. It's out of sight and out of mind for many of the city-dwelling birders, just housing developments and farm fields stretching off into the haze. We don't see another team until we cross back into Terra Cognito and, of course, it's Dan and his team.

A Feral Pigeon or European Starling was most likely the first bird of the day. A Snowy Egret was the last official bird.

Cindy F.
Little Rock

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