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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Riddle Me This, Birdwatcher

Q: What do the NBC show Parks and Recreation, the Academy Award-nominated The Social Network, and the state bird of Oklahoma have in common?

A: I watched all of them this weekend!

I had to work the late shift at work last night, and I couldn't have possibly forseen what was gonna go down on the listserv the next morning. So, when I woke up late, and I saw the excruciatingly earlier-this-morning emails from such birders as Jacob Socolar (who found it) and Kent Fiala (who found the nest), I was FREAKING OUT. This was a bird I had wanted to see since... hell, since I was a kid. And now it was only 15 minutes away. And now I was four hours late. For a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.

I think it took me about 10 minutes between waking up, seeing the emails, and being out the door. That's about as quick as you can possibly make a decision. I called James immediately, but he wouldn't pick up his phone. That meant I was without his 35x lens, instead having just my 10x point-and-shoot. It'd have to do. Immediately upon reaching Anilorac Farms, I found the nest. It's kind of funny, a bird from the mid-south (is that a thing?) should choose such an obvious site for a nest in the middle of Orange County. Yet, there was the female, incubating away on top of an old radio antenna.

Female Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on nest - Anilorac Farms, NC; 07/09/2011

One bird down. Now just to find the promised male. He was a little harder to find - for such a flashy bird, I didn't often find him in an exposed location. I could hear him calling though. Kind of a high-pitched hoarse Western Kingbird kind of call. But after just a little waiting, he flew out from near the Anilorac Farm sign and started flycatching over the field. As he banked, his trademark scissor-tails would flare out, and his rosy underwings could be seen from a hundred yards away. Eventually he sat himself on top of one of the trees near the creek, and chased some Barn Swallows off his perch.

Male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - Anilorac Farms, NC; 07/09/2011

He continued flycatching from the trees for a while before once again banking over the fields. I don't think I'll ever get used to seeing such a beautiful bird fly spread-tailed over the fields. All of a sudden though, he banked towards me, and landed just across the road from me, on top of a powerline. This was my chance! Even with my cruddy 10x camera, I managed a decent shot. My lifer Scissor-tailed Flycatcher! 

Lifer Scissor-tailed Flycatcher! Anilorac Farms, NC; 07/09/2011

A bird I've waited my whole life to see, now just a scant 30 feet across the road from me. If this isn't the kind of stuff I got into birding for, I don't know what is.

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