Okay, you know the drill....every once in awhile we get into these bird quests where we are after 'one' bird...and yet that bird is the most elusive all 'for you' while seemingly presenting itself to others at will.
The last time I had this happen was in Ecuador when I was after the Andean Torrent Duck. The bird books list this bird as 'fairly common' and easy to find in fast moving rivers, of of which, are abundant in the Andes. Well, it took be 5 tries to a specific location known to man where the Torrent Duck exists. Five attempts in rainy weather. The last time I was there with a group of people, there it was. We came around a bend in the river and viola, the duck was there. It must have missed the office memo or early alert warning that I was on my way. But I found it....one more bird ticked off my list.
My current bird quest involves a rather common bird here in Jersey...the Snow Bunting. Now come on, I am not asking to see a Black Rail or an Upland Sandpiper or some other odd' duck'...(pardon the pun from previous paragraph).... but a snow bunting.
One of the first things I have learned since temporarily migrating to New Jersey was to rely on a good book "A Guide to Bird Finding in New Jersey" by William Boyd (the Green version). According to Boyd, the Snow Bunting is common at Barnaget, Holgate etc during the winter months.
I keep a diary/journal of my birding visits as I find while photo's are nice, I in particular prefer scanning thru a journal and recalling the days spent birding at different locations. It enlightens me to see what I have done during the past year. So looking over my diary/journal....I see Barnaget, Holgate....on my listing of birding trips for 3 times now in the past winter. The bird is winning 3-0 presently. The last time I was at Barnaget I found some awesome birds but no snow bunting.
Yesterday I ventured up to Barnaget once more. The weathermen said it wasn't going to rain until 3pm, so I hastened with my work and left the house around 11am. I would easily have time to drive up, find the Snow Bunting and come back prior to rainfall.
In that sense, I was right...I missed the rain and weathermen were right. I am always in awe when I happen by chance to have a birding weather experience that matches to their 5% correct prediction outcome. None the less, I took my scope and glasses and walked the dunes. This was not as easy as when the dunes are frozen or covered in snow. This time, I had on my trusty Gore Tex boots that I have had for over 25 years. When I was a ranger for the National Park Service, these boots led me to many miles in the likes of Olympic and Rainier National Parks. Boots and soft sand though are not the Pacific Northwest and are 'not made for walking' ....I just heard that song by Nancy Sinatra the other day as Deb and I dined at the Italian Gourmet.
So I trudged along...setting up my scope and waiting patiently for Snow Buntings. I scanned the dunes, walked the dunes...flushed out birds of all calibers, even experienced some chiggers.... but still no evidence of a single snow bunting. I saw Tree Sparrows...... found a Hermit Thrush near the visitor center, .....was twittered by tweets from Yellow Rumped Warblers, and was once more teased by sparrows that were a cross between X and Y....as they were impossible to ID. But no where did a Snow Bunting appear.... Four times now...next time will be my 5th time and I am running out of Snow Bunting time. But I am banking on the luck of the duck here.... 5th time will be a charm.