Date: 6/15/20 8:18 pm
From: Kevin Spencer <rriparia...>
Subject: [obol] Adding to thoughts by Paul on Wood Thrush


Thanks Paul. You summed up the weekend well. The day out with you,
and others, will always be a great memory. I was writing this before
you posted your thoughts. I’ll add mine. (And, while I did get to
see the Kentucky Warbler, I was not the one who found or reported it.
And it's interesting that Steve Summers, a former Klamath County
resident/birder, already had Wood Thrush for the state.)

Living in Klamath County has been quite “birdy” through the
years. And when it rains, it pours. Recently there has been some good
finds. A few years ago, Russ Namitz spotted a Little Gull that hung
around, and many flocked to see it. And some interesting finds in the
last couple of years were LeConte’s Sparrow, and a Common Gallinule.
Two days ago, a Wood Thrush was found, down in a remote location of
the county, and many walked into the Klamath River Canyon in an effort
to see or hear it. The groups of hiking birders would be akin to “a
pilgrimage”. And during the last few days, I’ve seen friends I
hadn’t seen in a while, and met new state birders, which seems like
old times to me, when I see people at a Christmas Bird Count, or
tracking down a rare bird.

The lucky day actually began last week when I was contacted by a
friend who I hadn’t seen in at least a year. I met him probably 22
years ago, when he had graduated from Henley High in Klamath Falls.
Frank Mayer got the birding bug when his high school science teacher
challenged the class to find more species of birds than their
instructor. Frank never looked back, and has been to numerous areas of
the world, and worked on many bird projects during the last two
decades. So, seeing him was a treat. We decided to go to the part of
the canyon where Wrentit had been reported in the last few years.
Maybe we could both use our skills and find one in that area. So, we
ended up down at Frain Ranch along the Klamath River, where
Yellow-breasted Chats nest, Band-tailed Pigeons are sometimes seen,
and Pileated Woodpeckers’ drumming reverberates off the canyon
walls. Then, while discussing a dim soft socket wrench sound coming
from a dense patch of a Klamath Plum stand, we heard the sound of a
thrush. I said it sounded like a Swainson’s and Frank said it
sounded more like a Hermit. Our attention then diverted. Time went by,
and later, a song sung was closer. This time we agreed it was neither.
Eventually, we heard it sing several times, and by fortunate
circumstance, it flew to the edge of a road. It was a Wood Thrush!

Once word travelled out to other Oregon birders, it became apparent
that the magnitude of this record was immense. But there was a pause.
There was a balk in movement towards Klamath County since many times
rare birds often don’t stay in one place. And the habitat and lack
of access along the river would make refinding impossible. But Steve
Kornfeld, who happened to be in the area, confirmed that it had at
least remained until the end of the day. Then Frank Lospalluto posted
some outstanding photos, and an audio, which included patting drops of
water on that damp morning. I was able to coax Dave Haupt to try on
Sunday after he missed due to his high school graduation duties. It
was then that I became a part of the Wood Thrush Pilgrimage by the
Oregon birders. Klamath County was having a shower of birders.

And, that’s what sort of the most fun for me when a rare bird is
found. I get to see friends I haven’t seen for a while. It’s a
thunderstorm of birders, building up for their chance of a fleeting
electric glimpse upon a feathered gem. That’s what makes Oregon a
great state to be birding in. I spoke on the phone with numerous
birders, some who have seen more birds than I could ever dream to see.
I didn’t get to see Craig and Marilyn Miller, but talked to them.
I’ve known Craig since the early 80’s, and Marilyn shortly after
that. I got to spend a day with Tim Rodenkirk and Paul Sullivan. And
best of all, I met some of the next generation birders, Caleb and
Courtney. And while leaving after the second time down today, we all
tried to tell Tim Shelmerdine that it was a rough road, but he
gleefully headed down in his car. We knew he’d probably give Sheran
Wright a lift back up but we were hoping first that that he’d make
it. And as I rounded the last turn on the way out, I waved to Zia
Fukuda.

Yes, finding rare birds is fun. But for me, it’s the camaraderie of
the birders in this state that really makes it fun. It’s like no
other place. The experience and beauty of the state, and the friends
you meet along the way, still seems to be greater than the list. I
hope it stays that way.

Kevin Spencer

Klamath Falls, Oregon

 
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