Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Element of Chance

One of the things that makes birding exciting is that you can never be sure what bird is going to turn up where. This was brought home to us ten days ago when Dee and I saw a White-breasted Nuthatch in Spring Creek Park in Tomball.

The element of chance came into play again yesterday when we were in Spring Creek Park again, this time on a very dark and damp morning. We were parked next to the area where we had seen the White-breasted Nuthatch about 10 days before and we were about to leave after I had done some unsuccessful searching for Brown-headed Nuthatches. A truck pulled in and parked next to us and a man got out and walked across the road to the trees. As he was carrying binoculars, I walked over to him to ask if he was looking for the White-breasted Nuthatch. He was. I told him where we had seen it and he walked over to the area.

A few minutes later, I was standing by our car when I heard a Nuthatch. Right on cue, Dee said, "There it is. Right in front of you." Sure enough, the White-breasted was walking up a tree trunk not 20 feet in front of our car and the other birder's truck. 

I grabbed a quick photo and turned around to alert our fellow birder. He had disappeared! We jumped into the car and drove around the loop looking for him. As he was nowhere in sight, I walked down the nearest trail and soon found him.

I told him that we'd just seen the Nuthatch and we both laughed about the arbitrariness involved in birding. He joked that he might just go back and sit in his truck and wait for the Nuthatch to perch on his hood.

I wonder if he managed to see the bird.


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