Saturday, May 15, 2010
Road trip, and scissor-tailed flycatchers
Yesterday Greenturtle and I went down to Arkansas for the obligatory family visit (his, not mine) and of course I am hoping to squeeze in as much birding as possible. But first: the drive from hell. Yes, hell. It's a TEN HOUR CAR TRIP! And I am someone who put off driving from Bloomington to Effingham for two years to see the prairie chickens because it seemed like such a long trip. I enjoy seeing different places, but I DON'T enjoy getting there.
By the time we arrived yesterday, it was midnight, pouring rain, and I had the taste of diesel fumes in my mouth from the back-to-back trucks on highway 40. Egads! And at the end of it...the obligatory family visit. Don't get me wrong, my in-laws are nice. But this morning it was still pouring rain and I already felt like I'd been a house guest way too long.
Luckily around noon the rain stopped and we decided to go into town--town being Russellville, outside of which the in-laws reside. I accidentally typed "Russellvile" in the preceding sentence, which was clearly a Freudian slip. There MAY be an uglier landscape somewhere in this world than Russellville, but if so, I have thus far been spared. And have I mentioned the smell of the rendering plant? Yes, there is a rendering plant.
But, on the way into town, I was peering out of the car window hoping to see a roadrunner, as I have a couple of times in the past, when instead I saw: scissor-tailed flycatchers! I've only ever seen them in Texas, and they are one of my favorite birds. The first sighting, the flycatcher was perching on a fence rail and I made Greenturtle stop the car so I could get a better look, while saying my Good Bird Sighting mantra under my breath: Ho. Lee. Shit!! As in: I can't believe my good fortune! I can't believe I was lucky enough to see this.
After endless delays getting lunch at Taco Bell, doing some shopping, visiting with more relatives, finally we were able to stroll for a couple of hours at Bona Dea Park in Russellville. I didn't have huge hopes, because of the time of day and the fact that I've never seen anything terribly exciting there before. I remembered there was some sort of pond in the middle.
Due to recent rains, it wasn't exactly a pond. It was more like a swamp. Cool bird habitat! I saw kingbirds, an acadian flycatcher (I think my collection of empidonax flycatchers is almost complete now), a green heron, a common yellowthroat, and nicest of all...a prothonatary warbler! Haven't seen one of those since my trip to Southern Illinois a couple of years ago.
Turned out to be a good birding day after all, even with as little birding as I could manage. I haven't forgotten about the oil spill, but at least one good thing about the change of scene here is that I am too busy to sit around dwelling on it.