I generally consider myself to be lucky when it comes to chasing rare or unusual birds. I’ve had some misses over the years, but the successful chases outnumber the unsuccessful. All birders know that in order to see the really unusual and rare ones a certain amount of good luck has to be attained. But birders also know that there will be times when it’s just not your day to find what you are looking for. Last Saturday was a painful reminder of that for me.
I have a list of birds that I designated as possible or even likely misses this year in my quest to see 205 species in Mecklenburg County. One of those is the Eurasian collared-dove. This large dove is scarce in Mecklenburg County. Over the years there had been just a couple of dependable spots to find them. Unfortunately those sites are no longer reliable.
I heard reports that up to three doves were being seen sporadically at a feeder in Starmount, off South Boulevard. I contacted the hosts, who said the birds had not been seen in a few days but I was welcome to come take a look. I did and waited about 45 minutes with no success. Fifteen minutes after departing, I received a phone call. All three birds had appeared and were at the feeders. By then I was down South Boulevard in Pineville and hastily turned around to head back.
In the short time it took to pass over I-485 going south and turn around to go north, a wreck occurred and backed up traffic. I had to figure out how to get around the backup. I did so by going back to Pineville, catching Downs Road over to Westinghouse Boulevard and then over to South Boulevard. All of that slowed me down only about 15 minutes, but that was long enough for the birds to eat their fill and depart a few minutes before I returned.
I feel pretty confident that eventually I’ll get that species if it keeps coming to the feeders, but I haven’t heard from the hosts to find out whether the birds are still around. Keeping my fingers crossed on this one.