Monday, January 30, 2012

The face-freezing quest for the Townsend's Solitaire - Montreal, December 4, 2011


Birds, nerds, and the dead
Thanks Gilles!
Townsend's Solitaire Myadestes townsendi
Townsend's Solitaire Myadestes townsendi
Townsend's Solitaire Myadestes townsendi
Townsend's Solitaire Myadestes townsendi
  It was an entertaining twitch for a super-rare bird that far east - here were my thoughts at the time:


 I spent the last two days in a cemetery, with Dan, a person I first birded with decades ago.  We were looking for a small grey bird, the evocatively named Townsend’s Solitaire.  They usually hang around the Rockies, but this one was hopelessly lost.  We spent Saturday morning and afternoon wandering among the tombstones along with a dozen other twitchers, with no luck.
  Today we returned even earlier.  I hate mornings.  So we drifted aimlessly among the dead, again, in face-freezing weather.  We split up to cover more ground, and I ended up zoning out and reading tombstones up in the hills, having completely forgotten about birds.  Suddenly my phone rang, and it was a gracious local birder named Gilles, who I had absent-mindedly given my phone number to earlier.  He found the Solitaire.  I sprinted down the hill and got profoundly lost, but I eventually hooked back up with Dan, and we soon found a flock of birders gawking up at a tree.  The Solitaire was singing away in relatively plain sight, and then it came down and posed for us.  Good twitch.
  Looking at the pics, it looks almost exactly like an Asian Brown Flycatcher from the shoulders up.  Shoulders?

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