Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Joe Neal's woo woo moment with a Sora rail

woo woo moments with a very cool Sora‏
From: joeneal (joeneal@uark.edu)
Sent: Tue 4/14/09 9:15 PM
To: ARBIRD discussion list (ARBIRD-L@LISTSERV.uark.edu)
Cc: aubrey shepherd (aubreyshepherd@hotmail.com); Bruce Shackleford (bruceshackleford@aristotle.net); Burnetta Hintertheur (burhint@sbcglobal.net); Doug James (djames@uark.edu); Jacqueline Froelich (froelich@uark.edu); Joe Woolbright (joewoolbright@cox-internet.com); Joyce & (jhshed@CENTURYTEL.NET); Margaret Britain (margaret.britain@eds.com); Mary Bess Mulhollan (marybess@cox.net); Michelle Viney (mviney@audubon.org); Paige Mulhollan (paige123@cox.net); Ruth Ann Wisener (ruth.ann.wisener@tyson.com); Steve Erwin (serwin0419@sbcglobal.net); Terry Stanfill (tsstanfill@aep.com); Christie, Lynn (ChristieLynn@uams.edu)
I spent part of today birding with Lynn Christie from Little Rock. We
started out in the Vaughn area of Benton County. When we got up there
it looked like most of the 200+ American Golden-Plovers had continued
on their epochal 10,000 mile journey. We did find 6 of the original 9
in a flock of Upland Sandpipers. Just as I began making solemn
pronouncements about gone plovers & their amazing odyssey, and lots of
other miscellaneous stuff I've heard on PBS, here they came, in tight
flocks, making a fine display. Not yet gone, a few thousand miles
still left. I also pronounced 2 B-w Teal on a far pond, that Lynn
noticed were shovelers...

After Vaughn, we headed for Woolsey Wet Prairie at Fayetteville. I was
telling how Joyce Shedell just saw a Sora at the Centerton hatchery
(posted on ARBIRD), so I thought...well maybe we can see one today at
Woolsey. After the yellowlegs, after Wilson's Snipe, after the teal
(both), after avoiding a threatening Canada Goose, after a dramatic
Cooper's stoop on shorebirds, etc etc... a Sora--casually it
seemed--walked out of wet grass, right in front of us. It was so
dramatic I could barely breathe.

OK, Sora is not a rare transient in Arkansas, BUT this Sora appeared &
stopped. Didn't dodge back into cover. Didn't fly up and drop out of
sight. Didn't leave me wondering if it was a Virginia Rail. Remained
in plain sight & in perfect light, and stayed there for eternity. It
knew we wanted it (my friend Joy Fox would call this a woo-woo
moment): red eye, yellow beak, white under cocked tail, dove gray on
sides, rich whites/blacks/browns of wings & back. It turned this way,
then that. We got the whole thing. There's no way to have seen more.
Finally it sauntered into cover. That red eye among leaves of grass.

Now at home, thinking about it, I like Peterson's Sora best, of the
various bird book illustrators, but even with its high artistry,
Peterson looks pretty static compared to the gaudy remarkable beauty
that showed today. These are moments that made me a birder & keep me.
I don't need it every time. Once in a while will keep me under the
spell of a creature among us still.

JOSEPH C. NEAL in Fayetteville, Arkansas

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