Date: 3/17/21 11:21 am From: catherine paris <cparis12010...> Subject: For newbies AND oldies
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There's a lesson in this tale.
I have a dear friend who decided she would like to come birding with me one Thanksgiving on Cape Cod. It was a new moon promising extra high tides in the marshes on the Atlantic side.
There were reports of a yellow rail in or near the few remaining fresh water cat tails at the foot of Fort Hill. Surprisingly, the marshes often have fresh water upwellings where sailing ships would load potable water.This marsh is huge and protected by a changing barrier beach. Henry Beston's book Outermost House is a fine testament to the area. So imagine "finding" a once every 15yrs. small yellow rail!
I swung by and picked my friend up and immediately noticed flat bottomed still white sneakers, white pants, a wind breaker, and some kind of ball cap. Not only did her outfit scream non birder but if you've ever stood next to the ocean on a dark, dreary November day, you would last 2 minutes outside the car. And, you might might never locate that hat again. She looked like the book seller she is sans the half glasses on the chain.
My next worry was managing the trip walking down the hill. For some reason, no path near the ocean is flat, dry or contiguous. I personally had executed a perfect forward flip adorned with camera, book, binos after the sneaky briars caught my toe (both briar ends firmly attached) I stuck the landing only because I concentrated solely on the safety of the camera. I continued nonchalantly down the hill without looking back at the audience above me.
Eventually we arrived at our destination which was a single large rock from gosh knows where. I immediately realized our feet were sinking into the muck and suggested she hop up on the freezing cold rock and wait there while I walked toward the phragmities which has invaded the fragile ecosystems.
Since it was nigh on high tide, a dozen or so birders with scopes had gathered. Some chatting and some studiously scanning every floating hunk of debris knowing at some point the rail had to come toward land.
It got darker, colder and windier. I was lucky to find some Nelson's sparrows then returned to the rock worried about my friend. I noted everybody had given up. She moved over to share the rock and just as my butt hit the rock, a bird 15ft in front ran toward us and popped into the cattails! I whisper shouted, "that's the yellow rail!" Her comment was, "it didn't look yellow to me".
Thus her first on her bird list was a yellow rail.
My motto is I'd rather be lucky than good. I'd love to bird with any of you.
I also have a branch of the avian tree named Parisi embarrasus. For those sightings I've morphed into faux birds.
Catherine Paris <cparis12010...> Ozark County
The Missouri Birding Society's Wild Bird Discussion Forum