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My Life’s Birds: #350

November 4, 2009
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January 8, 1995 – Lake Springfield, Mo – There are days, typically exceptionally rare ones, when the life bird is just about the least interesting thing you see on a given day.   Now I’m certainly not saying that it isn’t a rush to add that tick to your burgeoning list, but when you’ve still got no small number of “regular” birds to add, the novel species, even if it’s something you’ve seen before, takes the bird of the day honors.

800px-Anas_rubripes_YonkersThat’s the situation I found myself in when spending a weekend morning at Lake Springfield with my dad. The reservoir is a pretty good place for finding a nice variety of wintering waterfowl and the odd Bald Eagle, basically your default spot for a good birding experience during the colder months of the year. Gadwalls and Mallards are fairly plentiful, along with the requisite flocks of Coots that show no fear of people due to years of bread and bait-fish induced comfort with local fishermen and non-birding visitors.  It’s also a pretty predictable place for American Black Ducks if you find yourself inclined to pick through the flocks of dabblers for small gems.  It was a life bird for me, but one that engenders satisfaction rather than pure joy, a workmanlike tick on the list.  No fuss, no muss.

No, the exuberance was to wait for what came next.  Another turn through the Mallards and their extremely close relations produced a iridescent brown stunner, a drake Cinnamon Teal in all its glory, seemingly unaware that a subdued January day requires a subdued duck.  I’d seen Cinnamon Teal the summer before in Arizona, where they’re supposed to be.  So it was not a lifer, but it was a fantastic bird for the state, and one that would get some pub on the state rare bird alert once we made the report known.  It was my first self-found rarity, a sort of milestone for any birder.  On any other day, the Black Duck would have been a pleasant enough bird.  But a Cinnamon Teal, now that’s a memory.

photo from wikipedia

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2 Comments
  1. Greg permalink
    November 4, 2009 8:48 am

    A memory that is well planted in my mind, as if it occurred yesterday!

  2. Greg permalink
    November 4, 2009 8:49 am

    Oh, yeah, it WAS a lifer for me!

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