Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Joe Neal shares tale of confirming lesser goldfinch siting in Arkansas

  • one phone call away‏

6:56 PM
To,, Armstrong, Lynn, Barnhill, Rosie, Beall, Bill, Erwin, Steve, Fields, Warren, Froelich, Jacqueline,,, Guise, Roberta, Harris, Nancy, James, Douglas A., Liz, Susan And, Lowrey, Beth, MADDOX, BEVERLY, mlodinow, michael, Mulhollan, Paige, Mulhollan, Mary Bess, riley, lisa, Rohosky, John, Ross, Cathy and Bob, Shedell, Joyce & Harlan, Shepherd, Aubrey, STANFILL, TERRY, Stauffacher, Richard, Turner, Ellen, VINEY, Michelle, Woolbright, Shane, Woolbright, Joe, Young, Susan
I thoroughly enjoyed Jerry Butler's account of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch 
fever that swept Arkansas's birding community in early May ("Flying 
High" starting on page 1E, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette May 28, 2012). 
I'm almost but not quite fully recovered. Hope the rest of y'all are 
getting better, too.

Jerry is too polite to ask what we all wonder: How did Don Simons 
manage to get THAT species atop the highest mountain between 
Alleghenies in the East and Rockies in the West? And right outside 
the front door of his visitors center? A bird you could nearly pet 
with your camera lens? Is he trying for a promotion or something?

I'm kidding, of course. But it is 100% fact that this is the only 
species I have seen, but Doug James hasn't, and that despite his 
sweeping and extraordinary experiences with birds over the world 
through seven decades. He once climbed the snowy Rockies in his old 
running shoes just hoping for the view we had outside the Mt Magazine 
visitors center. Actually I'm unsure about the running shoes part.

I was thinking about this in context of the Lesser Goldfinch at Joyce 
Shedell's feeders in Highfill on May 9. It was the last rosy-finch 
day. I was still feverish from my dash up Magazine. Joyce's Lesser G 
would be only the third record for Arkansas. I had to see this one, too.

On May 10 I'm watching feeders in Joyce's back yard. I'm sitting 
close, so I can get a good photograph. I see a disappointing few 
goldfinches, and no Lesser G. I give up in two hours and head for 
fields with Bobolinks and Grasshopper Sparrows, but I remember I 
should pass the bad LESSER GOLDFINCH-NO to David Oakley so he can post 

David tells me Kenny and LaDonna Nichols are on their way to Highfill. 
I call them immediately with my news. Kenny isn't deterred. Says Joyce 
was sure about the goldfinch?s black back.

Have I missed something? I turn and head back. Feeders are in the 
backyard just outside her kitchen window. To get in back you walk by 
the corner of her house. You can immediately see the feeders, but the 
view is much further away than where I was earlier. However, at 
distance, I now see a BIG flock of goldfinches, and among them, one 
obviously smaller with a black back. Oh wow! And I had been one phone 
call away from terminal bail-out.

A light bulb, albeit a dim one, comes on inside my brain. Joyce had 
studied it from INSIDE the house, looking out her windows, causing no 
disturbance. I was too close. Now on my second try, from the corner, 
at 2X the distance, birds carry on like I'm not there.

Joyce offers lawn chairs. I photograph her behind Kenny and LaDonna in 
radiance of Arkansas's third record. LESSER GOLDFINCH -YES. We're all 

JOSEPH C. NEAL in Fayetteville, Arkansas

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    I am a trail guide with Crystal Bridges and we were asked to help located a photo of the Northern Mocking Bird. If anyone has a photo that they would give Crystal Bridges the rights to use for an educational program, it is needed ASAP. Please feel free to call me at 479-531-5950 or e-mail