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Posts Tagged ‘Henslow’s Sparrow’

December 29, 2011, will be my last day of work before retirement.  I’ve begun to refer to the time starting January 1, 2012, as “The Rest of My Life”.  It feels like a new life will begin, one in which I will have wonderful adventures and do things that are really important rather than just work for a paycheck.  And, of course, most of those anticipated adventures will include seeing wonderful new birds.

As my new friend and birding buddy, Diane, and I were on our way back to her home near Minneapolis from the Shorebird Workshop last week, we talked about the places we dreamed of visiting.  Diane said “you should write about the trips you take” and I replied with “who would read it?”  When Diane said that she would read about my travels, I impulsively replied “OK, I’ll do it.”  The trip that we had just finished did indeed seem like a preview of the many trips that I hope to take in the future.

The Shorebird Workshop had been great fun, but the bird that was responsible for our birder’s high that day was not a shorebird at all, but a little brown sparrow.  I did not really expect to get any life birds on that trip, but I had a short list of remote possibilities.  On the first day, Doug held two fingers half an inch apart and said there was that much a chance of finding Henslow’s Sparrow.  He and Kim Eckert had been keeping in touch all weekend, and in the final hour of the final day, he got a report from Kim that they had seen the Henslow’s.

A few minutes later, about a mile east of The Nature Conservancy’s Plover Prairie in Lac Qui Parle County, Minnesota, about 18 birders stood and held our breath as Bob played the Henslow’s song.  Yes!  The bird answered and a few of us had brief views of the bird.  A female Harrier glided across the prairie and the sparrow disappeared for a few minutes.  And then it returned closer than the first time.  It perched in the open and sat in the same spot about 75 feet from us for at least 5 minutes.  Everything was perfect.  Yes, absolutely perfect.  The weather was just the right temperature with the slightest hint of a breeze.  The light was perfect for seeing all the color and detail of the sparrow.  The sparrow even chose a perch easily found.  “See the Monarch on the thistle?  Look a foot to the right.”  Judith was happy that she had helped me get my first look, my life look, with her scope.  Gary was beaming as he generously allowed me to indulge in long lingering looks with his wonderful new 80mm Kowa.  We were all beyond happy.  We were lost in that perfect moment of shared joy among birders.

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