Friday, February 19, 2016

Getting the Blue Devil

This is a Green Heron. It has very little to do with this posting, it just happened to be posed there on the lower branches of a Water Cypress as we were leaving Frontera Audubon after a major break in the action. It gave up the photo willingly, and I merely took advantage of the situation as we walked by.

Recently there has been a constant procession of people to Frontera - people slowly wandering the paths, peering into the underbrush. Some are casual birders like myself. Some are other types - like young couples with children, or pairs of pudgy ladies with no binoculars, carrying point-and-shoot cameras and large bags with festive decorations, "Where can we see this blue bird that everyone is so excited about?" One is tempted to say, "Hell lady, I don't know. If I knew do you think I would stand for hours staring like a f***ing zombie into a green leaf wall?" Then there are the serious birders, those who have flown here from around the country just hoping to get a fleeting chance glimpse of "the bird". Chris is one of those serious birders.

Chris is an old birder friend of our neighbors, Cathy and Bill. 'Old' meaning they have been friends for some time; and 'old' also meaning he is no longer a young man. Chris has seen over 750 bird species in North America, but there was one that eluded him for years. He refers to the Blue Bunting as "The Blue Devil". Chris wasn't an Ahab out to kill his nemesis whale, he just wanted to see it. He has tried a number of times - whenever a Blue Bunting was reported north of Mexico, Chris was there, looking, hoping. Bill said he personally discovered the last one reported before the Frontera Audubon bird and he thought that might have been seven or eight years ago, so it is not as if poor old Chris has been living on airplanes and motels full time. 

Chris has been here a few days and Bill has been frustrated that he hasn't been able to deliver his friend's nemesis bird. It is a very hard bird. As Bill said, "Most of the people walking around Frontera looking for the Blue Bunting have no idea how hard (to see) this bird really is." Today Chris scored the Blue Bunting and got really good looks at it. The weight has been lifted and he has been set free (at least until he really needs to see a Short-tailed Albatross). When we joined them moments after the sighting, Bill pumped his fist in the air and shook my hand. I shook Chris's hand. Everyone within sight was shaking Chris's hand. There was much back slapping of men and hugging of women.

I know it is just seeing a bird, that it isn't really important in the overall scheme of world affairs, but for those few minutes the very air was filled with pure joy and relief. For old men real joy can be a rare and fleeting thing. And it is really great to be there when it happens.

Tonight we had a Blue Bunting Party. Cathy and Bill, their friends Tommy and Theresa, Lorna and me, and of course Chris. Seven people, all members of a very select group, the Blue Bunting Club.

Bill fixed us a wonderful meal, and for the man of the hour, we finished it with coffee cake and coffee ice cream - as I understand, Chris's favorite.

 And for everyone, one blue bunting peep!

Take care, be well, discover your own blue bird - Gunnar


Mimbres Man said...

This post is great! Happy for Chris.

Gunnar Berg said...

It was wonderful to be there to record it.

Redwing said...

I love the Blue Bunting sitting atop the cake. Nice touch! Congratulations to Chris and thanks for the post, Gunnar.