Spring break afforded me the opportunity to go west. Visiting friends with Nina in San Diego was the primary goal but unfortunately I was struck hard with a nasty chest cough at the end of the weekend stay. Rather than catch a plane home with Nina Monday morning, I stubbornly stuck to my pre-determined plan to chase three “lifers”. The Gray Vireo reported that week by e-bird (only 75 miles east of SD) proved to be an easy spot. The mile long hike at sunrise at an altitude of several thousand feet did not help my developing pneumonia…..and my camera fell ill, as well. NO PHOTO.
The smart move would have been to have seen a doctor in Philadelphia by now. But no, I had a round-trip boat ticket to Santa Cruz Island in The Channel Islands National Park and I was NOT going to miss my opportunity to see the Island Scrub-Jay in the ONLY place in the world it resides. It is related to all jays but it is its own unique species that never leaves the island! Another strenuous hike led me to five (5) of the 12,500 members of this species that call Santa Cruz Island home.
Of course, I should definitely have been en route to ANY doctor by now. But no, the CODE 5 Tufted Flycatcher was a major rarity that was going to be relatively simple to find….once I boarded a flight to Tucson and drove 100 miles. My persistence was rewarded but admittedly, I really did not enjoy the experience. I just wanted to catch up on sleep that pneumonia’s persistent cough prevented.
It has been almost two weeks since this adventure and I am finally feeling well enough to document what was a remarkably successful 72 hours of birding. Birding-wise I am very proud of closing in on another milestone (723 ABA lifetime species) but I am also a bit embarrassed by the health risk I took in the name of chasing birds.
There will be more stories but I promise to listen to my body (as all of you should) and make the correct decision next time.