I pull up to the Carpenter family apartment. We are excited. Hopefully, the Falcated Duck will be there at Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, when we arrive in the afternoon. We have a 450 mile drive ahead of us.
I haven't told Chuck (or my wife!) that the F Duck was not seen at all, yesterday, December 30th, 2011. Six years ago the Baikal Teal in Santa Barbara County pulled a dirty trick: it wasn't there the Saturday I drove up there, and I ignored my wife's suggestion that I spend the night in Santa Barbara, in case the bird reappears on Sunday.
"Oh, no, Honey. I want to be home with you and the kids!"
So of course, that Sunday, while I was home in Claremont, the Baikal Teal reappeared. That's why I had to chase the one in Arizona a year ago.
The Smew in Soulsbyville did the same thing, 2 years later: it wasn't there on a Saturday, so I didn't drive up to northern California to chase it, and it reappeared on Sunday.
So I figured that the F Duck would pull the same dirty trick.
08:45 a.m. STARBUCKS, GORMAN, CALIFORNIA
While waiting for my tall mocha with extra whipped cream, I am talking with my wife on the phone. My cell phone beeps at me, to tell me that somebody else is calling me. It's Lori Conrad. I switch calls.
"Hey, Honey, somebody's calling me, it's important." Click. "Hello?"
"Hi Tom, it's Lori. We're looking at the duck."
"Oh, great! Hey, Lori, hold on, my wife's on the other line." Click
"Hey listen, I'll call you back, later. I LOVE YOU!" Click.
Instead of Lori Conrad, my wife is on the phone. Oh My God. I just told Lori Conrad that I love her.
1:00 p.m. Highway 5, California's Central Valley
We are doing 80 miles an hour, and 3 Yellow-billed Magpies bank in front of us.
COLUSA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
We pull up to a crowd of parked cars, and are happy to see birders standing in a cluster, their spotting scopes and cameras all pointed in the same direction.
"Is it here?"
"Yeah, I've got it in a scope."
I like that about birders i.e. birding: you can walk up to a croud of complete strangers, and ask a question like that.
Greater White-fronted Geese,