Do I look like a NASCAR fan? (#686)

“Are you in town for the NASCAR championships?”, asked the Miami rental car person. Strange, the people next to me on the airplane had asked me the same question. While I may consider my weekend birding travel attire as neo-Marlin Perkins (remember Wild Kingdom), clearly my Haverford logo-laden-look (black “H” cap, black “H” vest, and black “H” carry-on) overshadowed my khaki shirt and pants combo; and gave people the impression I was a walking “H auto-parts” sponsor rather than my wish of conjuring up images of Steve Irwin, Jeff Corwin, or some other Animal Planet hero.

I traveled to Miami for 36 hours to simply add three non-native but “countable” resident birds to my life-list. I added one…the Purple Swamphen. But I traded in the opportunity to add two parakeets to my list in favor of a needle-in-the-haystack mission.

Purple Swamphen (Miami, Fla)

Purple Swamphen (Miami, Fla)

For me, the adrenaline rush of potentially finding a “code 5 mega-rarity”, a bird not reported publicly for various reasons too confusing to report here….but known to my well-informed guide…is at least equal to that of any athletic contest I have ever played. I don’t have ANY code 5 birds on my life-list and I only have a handful of code 4’s (for the birding aficionados out there: pink-footed goose, barnacle goose, crimson-collared grosbeak and lapwing). The scale basically only goes to 5, as Code 6 birds are extinct!

We spent all Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning searching for a foot-long, chunky, ground-dwelling bird that was very very likely within a football field-sized area of jungle cut with several pathways. We circled and zig-zagged for hours and at one point we even found a very recently molted feather that belonged to this top-secret bird. Alas, we didn’t find the bird.

I am flying home to Philadelphia far from disappointed. Despite recording only one “lifer” and greatly exceeding my budgeted cost-per-new-species figure, I am grateful to have had a chance at being a part of birding history. Maybe next time……

About George C. Wood

A birder since age ten, but not necessarily an avid "lister", I am closing in on 700 (*800!) species seen in North America.....hoping to capture each sighting with my camera.
This entry was posted in Quest for 700 (*800!). Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Do I look like a NASCAR fan? (#686)

  1. Glass, Dennis says:

    Great bird. Nina stoked me As a Nascar girl

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Dorothy B Weisbord says:

    Great Purple Swamp Hen…. Congrats

  3. Ziesing, Peter R says:

    Thanks George – nice bird – big win at PU Saturday – bad day for Yale – hope Hank’s big party at Cap went well – best, PRZ☺

  4. Jim Buck says:

    So, I’m confused. (Something “new and different”, I know….) Did you locate the purple swamphen, whose picture we see, or did you just post a stock photo thereof? What’s the variety of bird you described as “foot-long, chunky and ground-dwelling” which, I assume, is the Code 5?? Is it bad luck for you to name it (lol)? In case you can’t tell, Woody, I’m getting way too invested in your birding exploits here though, happily, not literally invested!!

  5. Gub says:

    George, Two parakeets in hand are worth one Code 5 in the bush!

  6. David says:

    George Wood: The Babe Ruth of Birding!!!
    Congratulations!!!

  7. Kathy Stevenson says:

    NASCAR guys are wimps compared to birders!

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