Date: 10/21/18 6:48 pm
From: William H Kaempfer <William.Kaempfer...>
Subject: [cobirds] Ode to Laura Steadman
With these simple words at 2:49 p.m., Laura Steadman made lots of people happy this afternoon:

"While looking at the stilt sandpiper and plover (both still present), happened to catch site of a fork-tailed flycatcher on the western shore. Currently viewing."

It takes three things to make real birding news-finding a great bird, identifying that great bird, and getting the word out. Laura had the hat-trick today. Well, it takes a great bird, too, I guess. After a frustrating, one-observer report of Fork-tailed Flycatcher in mid-September that, I believe, was a first state record for Colorado, this was a species that was on a lot of our minds. A bird to dream about, with its snappy black and white body, and that long, long, long tail. Perhaps the only austral migrant (breeds south migrates north and sometimes gets to North America) semi-regularly seen in the US, this is a bird of interest anywhere north of Mexico. I think it is even the story bird behind the cover of John Vanderpoel's soon to be published recounting of his North American Big Year in 2011, Full Chase Mode. And chase we did.

I made it to Prince #2 at about 3:15 p.m., and there were already 8 other birders present. It took a little while to re-find the bird, but we slowly starting thinking that the best strategy might be to walk out on the former County Road 111 in order to be below the dam for best viewing opportunities.. After Peter Burke saw it flying somewhere off to the north of Prince #2, we all began walking that way; groups of us, handfuls of us, dozens of us, scores of us, hundreds of us. Trying to count how many birders were there was like trying to count the number of Western Grebes currently on Union Reservoir, a little bit to the northwest. There was Loch Kilpatrick, and there Mark Chavez. Oh, and Rachel Hopper, and Carl Bendorf, and Bill Schmoker, and Gwen Moore, and Joey Kellner, and Glenn Walbeck, and on and on. Steve Larson and Edie Israel were there, and they fly out South Africa at 3:00 a.m. Monday morning! I bet even the Widowbirds down there won't be as thrilling.

This is not the first time modest, little Prince Lake #2 in eastern Boulder County has made birding news. Way back on October 26, 1975, then-Boulder birder Bruce Webb found what I believe to be the first state record of Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at Prince #2. This bird elicited the famous comment from Colorado birding icon, Harold Holt, "It isn't a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper until the Colorado Bird Records Committee says it is a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper". (fide, Peter Gent). Hey-another great bird during the last 10 days of October. And the year before that, what must have been the first state record of Baird's Sparrow on, wait for this, October 29, 1974. Prince #2 has also had Red Phalarope, Iceland (Iceland) Gull, and Eurasian Wigeon, and just over the hill at Prince #1 there is still a Yellow-billed Loon somewhere at the bottom of the pond, but that's a different story.

Then last week's wind-focused fallout brought American Golden Plovers to us, all over the Front Range--but importantly to this story, to Prince #2. A couple of plovers made themselves easy to see in the soft, nourishing mud along the south shore of the small agriculture reservoir, and many went to Prince #2 for their year, state, life, county, or whatever AGPL. David Waltman notes that this was the start of our own Patagonia Roadside Rest stop phenomenon. Those plovers brought Laura Steadman out at 2:48 this afternoon. Well, if the truth be told, I stopped at Prince #2 at 9:55 this morning. So, the Fork-tailed Flycatcher must have arrived between 9:55 and 2:48 (insert smiley face here).

Thanks, Laura from 100 Colorado birders, and then some. And, somebody remember to go out there at the end of next October.

Bill Kaempfer
Boulder

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