What are the odds (x2)!?

The Oriental Turtle-Dove ranges mainly from Asia to Japan. Technically it has now been seen three times in California but realistically the chances of seeing one in the USA are basically 0% (see #221 below).

I received a NARBA (North American Rare Bird Alert) text that a presumed wild Oriental Turtle-Dove was identified in Palo Alto on February 2nd….while I was preparing for our February 10th Alumni gathering in San Francisco. Frankly, I had never heard of this species. It doesn’t even have a range map in the field guides but heck, a potential ”lifer” is always exciting.

The bird was continuously seen for a couple of minutes every morning around 7:30am before disappearing into a residential area from the 2nd through the 10th. I arrived at dawn on Friday, the 11th and took my place among fifteen or so anxious birders at the ”stake-out” area.

By 7:30 am the crowd had grown to over 50. One elderly lady mumbled ”It isn’t going to show” and walked despondently back to her car. I wondered how she could give up so easily but maybe she was a local and had already seen it. By 8:15 I thought she could be right. Ugh! Then at 8:25 a voice rang out: “in the redwood!”. It was right in front of me about 50 yards away!! Binoculars first for the positive ID and then quick, camera, need a photo for this blog! No more than thirty seconds elapsed and it was gone. But I knew I had captured it. I had a similar confident feeling of exhilaration as the Olympic snowboarder who nailed her first half-pipe (and won gold!). A reach comparison, perhaps, but not for me! Check out the diagnostic orange-red eye!

Oriental Turtle-Dove (Palo Alto)

During the chaotic moment of birders scrambling to view and photograph the dove I noticed a young guy that I thought could be our friend’s son from Sacramento. Three years ago I had shown him a rare Garganey (Eurasian duck) and I am very proud to write that he caught the birding bug after that special experience. But by the time I had snapped my photos, calmed down and gathered my wits, he was gone. So I texted him and immediately my phone rang. Miles Horton and his friend (Alex Albright) had indeed witnessed the same spectacle I had. The pleasure seeing them and satisfaction I felt knowing I had helped inspire a life-long hobby in another person far outweighed seeing ABA AREA #807.

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.

16 Responses to What are the odds (x2)!?

  1. Tom Mason says:

    Yo have great timing, George!

  2. Jeff Day says:

    Way to go, George! Now come back to Palmer House (Haverford). We miss you. 🙂

  3. Wendell Holland says:

    Duuuuude !!!!

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Joe Knowles says:

    Wow, George! Tracking the 0%ers!

  5. jmbuck3 says:

    Charmed, I tell ya. You are charmed (and intuitive, and persistent, and….)! And to have that “pay it forward” moment (Severinghaus to you to this young fella) was special to learn about. Way to go, Woody!

  6. Thks Jimbo! YES, paying it forward is soooo satisfying. Still smiling even as I approach TSA pre-check!

  7. sbscanlon says:

    George, that is a fun one – neat to reconnect with a friend who you got into birding- sort of like your own story. Sean

  8. Henry Maguire says:

    Outstanding photo of this rare (for North America) bird

  9. Thanks HCM….best from 80F LA!

  10. david lincoln says:

    Awesome stuff Georgie! Keep ‘email coming.

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