Friday, August 15, 2008

The Big Two-Oh-Oh!

I did it. I got my 200th bird.

The sighting was sudden and unexpected, as I should have expected it to be. There we were last week on vacation in Oregon. I had rung up birds 195 through 199 pretty handily during the earlier part of the week. We were in what looked like a lovely meadow but which turned out to be a deeply fissured field of clay where walking was treacherous. Suddenly I caught a flash of red feathers in the dead trees at the edge of the meadow. (Pictured here sans bird) At first glance I thought it was a Purple Finch but as soon as I got my binoculars on it I could see it was too big and had a distinctive beak. It was a Red Crossbill. There were at least two at first but only one hung around long enough for my co-conspirator to confirm my identification.

Among the new Life List birds I added in Oregon were two especially cool species. One was found and identified when we crawled into a thicket to try to retrieve a cache that was blocked on the better side by the presence of other humans. Standing up in the thicket I was literally face to beak with a pair of very vocal and aggitated Wrentits! I took a quick look and got out of there quickly. The other especially interesting sighting was an American Dipper. It was bobbing around on the rocks in the Wilson River just upstream from the Tillamook Forest Center. We were able to watch it for a while as it moved from rock to rock and eventually into the stream where it caught something large and wriggling.

So, now what? I suppose I could set a new goal of 300. Doubtless if I keep up with the birding I'll reach that eventually. Maybe I'll make that the secondary goal as the 200 was, in all honestly, all along. For now the main goal will be just to get out and see as much of everything as I can.

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