If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it.
This morning found us at the Harris's Sparrow site for the third time. I told Shari that if we didn't see it today we were turning the car west and heading to Oklahoma or Kansas or wherever in the mid-west the bird spends its winter. Happily, we didn't have to pay all those tolls. We pulled up behind a couple of cars between #43 & #51 and began our wait, watching the feeders at #43.
Waiting patiently is not my game. After about 5 minutes, I got out of the car and walked back toward #51 where I saw the bird about 10 days ago. Again, I was playing out the conundrum of stay or search. I was looking on the lawn of the #51 when the homeowner half-opened her door and asked me if I was looking for the sparrow. I was hoping she wasn't going to give me gas, though I could certainly understand why she might be sick of birders by now. Instead, she said, "The sparrow is right there, atop the forsythia bush."
1) I don't know what a forsythia bush looks like when it isn't in bloom.
2) Shari was still down the block
3) The sun glare was terrible.
I signaled to Shari to come up toward me and then noticed she was accompanied by our friend Bob Auster, who had been in the car in front of us. I should know Bob's car by now, but I didn't this morning. So, while I was happy to see him, my main focus was on finding the bird and getting Shari on it.
We still couldn't see the bird from our spot in the street. The lawn is up a small hill, making viewing difficult. The owner said the bird was still there, but we were blocked. Shari asked if we could come up her driveway and she very kindly permitted us and a couple of other birders who were hustling up to the house to stand in the drive and from there we all got tremendous views of the bird, which was also a lifer for Bob.
With that bird ticked with a very big check mark, it was still not even 9 o'clock, which left the question of where to next. "Bob," I said, "Have you been to the Trenton Sewer Utility?" He allowed as how he had not, so we agreed to caravan down there with another birder who was also interested but had never been there. It was only about 15 minutes away and within a few minutes of our arrival we had both the Orange-crowned Warbler (which gave spectacular looks for relatively long periods of time--for a twitchy warbler) and the Palm Warbler, as well as both kinglets and again numerous yellow-rumps. The first two warblers were also year birds for Bob. The other warbler rarities that have been reported there were not present and I suspect they have moved on in one sense or the other.
We also scanned the Delaware River which is across the road from the TSU. Some Common Mergansers (technically, these were probably in Pennsylvania) and a fine-looking Bald Eagle flying above the minor league stadium were nice additions for the day. It also occurred to me take a photo of what I like to call the most petulant sign in America:
After about an hour at the TSU, we drove over to Assunpink where there wasn't much of interest and then afterwards, Bob & I made a visit to Riverfront Landing to see if he could add Canvasbacks to his year list. He could, but they were hard to see. For some reason, no matter what the time of day is, the light is always terrible. Bob was also missing Pine Siskin for the year. A stop in our backyard filled that lacuna.
I'm very happy that Shari and Bob got life birds. I was feeling guilty (about Shari; Bob's on his own).