Apologies for this untimely interruption of my story, but I HAVE A RARE BIRD TO REPORT!!
Ok, ok. I'm serious now. This morning, I was sitting at home puttering around the computer when the phone rang. I answered. The voice on the other end sounded excited.
"Chris? Yea, this is P.D. Hulce. Three people walked into the research station this morning and showed me some photos of what I'm pretty sure is a Gray-collared Becard. I believe it would be a first US record." I sat silent for a second. The I said "How long ago?" "About an hour. I'm leaving the station in about 5 minutes." I said "I'm heading out now. See you up there."
I was out the door a minute later. When I arrived 5 minutes later, P.D. and Bob Weaver were already there looking for it. Bob was at the bridge and P.D. was farther up the canyon. I decided to walk down from the bridge since there was nobody there. As I walked, I remembered Dave Jasper saying something about birds liking to hang out around the only Chinese Elm tree in the entire canyon. As I walked by the tree, I heard the Becard call. I found it a second later. Sitting right at the top of the tree. I yelled to Bob and P.D. and they came running. The bird gave us spectacular views for about 15 minutes before it flew down the canyon. The last I saw of it was it's tail as it disappeared through the trees. It was my 550th life bird and the first of it's family that I've ever seen.
There will be around 150 people in the canyon on Sat morning. We'll know by tomorrow if the bird is still around. Here are some more photos of the bird:
Before I walked out the door, I posted on my Facebook Status update that there was a Gray-collared Becard up south fork. I found out later that Chris Benesh (who is currently in Anchorage, AK) read my update, and posted the possible Becard to the AZ-NM bird listserve. To my knowledge, that is the first time that word about a rare bird spread to a listserve from Facebook! Don't you just love instant communication? :D
Tomorrow, I go to track down another ABA rarity. Wish me luck!
Til next time, Happy Birding!