Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Bird without a Beard

Oct 8, '06

It's only about 50 miles away, so we thought we would revisit Patagonia, AZ. The trip was uneventful except when a rock hit my windshield causing a sizable 'break". The damage was not that big, but it would still cost me more than $200.00 to have my windshield replaced. "Not again!", I exclaimed, since this was the second time it happened. But Cynthia reminded me of what the Pastor preached yesterday, saying that God is always with us, not matter what happens.

We got to Lake Patagonia at about 8-ish in the morning. We disembarked from the parking lot which was just a few feet from the trailhead. I was setting up my gear when a family of deer meandered by. Of course, they were gone as soon as I was ready to shoot. This has become a recurring experience for me and would probably be the theme of my photographic life - the ones that got away.

There was another birder as we hit the trail, a lady named Epstein (forgot her first name). She was intent in viewing something flitting through the mesquite in front of her. As is customary among birders, we asked her what she was looking at. In soft, whispery voices, naturally. "Northern Beardless Tyrannulet", she whispered back. Now there is name that invokes a million questions. In the United States, it is only found here in Southeast Arizona, why then is it called "Northern"? And what is it about being "Beardless"? I have not seen a bird with a beard. Wattles that hang from their chins, maybe, but never a beard. Why then call the poor thing, "Beardless"? Did it have a beard before, shaved, and is now beardless?

Other than the curiously named bird, Lake Patagonia did not offer much. Our trip to the same place in February of last year was a lot more productive. It being close to lunch time, we headed for the town. Patagonia has only one street and not a lot to choose from when it comes to places to eat. We ended up at the hotel where we stayed before and had ridiculously priced sandwiches for lunch. Actually it was cheaper here than at the first place we ventured into. We should have gone back to the Velvet Elvis and enjoyed the special pizza served by its Mexican owner.

Our next stop was Paton's place. This is a world-renowned private residence that allows birders to view the many bird feeders placed strategically all across their yard. Again, we've seen more kinds of birds here last year than we did that day.

It was quite a disappointing day. We just chalked it up to experience and still vowed to return someday when the birding (and hopefully, the eating) would be better.

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