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My Life’s Birds: #374

March 3, 2010

December 20, 2003 – Greene Co, Mo – In 2003 I was a recent college graduate, living at home for the first time in five years and cobbling together a full-time job from two part-time jobs.  I wasn’t birding, but during the time I not so fondly consider my birding “dark ages”, my dad was still pretty active in the local and state birding community.  During the fall when I was home, I started slowly inching back into the birding world, even coming along to meetings of the local Audubon Society.  I’d see the same people that were so influential in my early years, happy to see me back and somewhat active even though I’d scarcely picked up a pair of binoculars for the better part of a decade.  But it was comfortable in the meeting hall of the Springfield Nature Center, the slide shows of places visited familiar, the cookies and coffee flowing freely.

So it was perhaps expected that I’d once again take on the Springfield Christmas Bird Count, and luckily I was once again welcomed back into the fold of the group that counted around the Fellow’s Lake area north of town.  Not only a great area by virtue of the birds, but covered by some of the finest birders in southwest Missouri, which this year included someone who’s no stranger to any nature blog connoisseur, David Ringer, then pre-Search and Serendipity.

I remember my first interaction with David, a botched Yellow-bellied Sapsucker that proved then that he was an extremely sharp birder and I was extremely out of practice.  I won’t even embarrass myself by suggesting what I remember thinking that bird was, but let’s just say David had me by a mile.  So I was without a doubt a little rusty, so it was perhaps appropriate that the one life bird I picked up on my first Christmas Bird Count back in Springfield was a Rusty Blackbird feeding near a horse barn with a flock of other blackbirds, the lone lifer of 2003 and now something of a hard bird to find in Missouri.

But at a certain point, CBCs aren’t really about lifers anyway.  It’s about getting out and doing good work for citizen science initiatives and most of all, about having fun with your fellow birders for a good cause.  Something I’m reminded every time I  find myself in a warm room with a table full of casseroles at the close of a Christmas bird Count as at the end of 2003.  I was slowly finding my way back to birding.

photo from wikipedia

One Comment
  1. Greg permalink
    March 3, 2010 2:28 pm

    My first recollection of David Ringer was when we chased the Riverlands Smew when David was a teen. He had a great, personally drawn reference guide for all the tricky gulls that we might be lucky enough to find. I believe we did find Glaucous, Great Black-backed, and Lesser black backed that day. I remember getting 5 lifers anyway. I wonder if he still has that little guide book?
    And, rusties, I seen one small flock this year, out near Lockwood, MO

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