Thursday, April 26, 2012

Forgotten Lifer

Earlier this month my husband and I returned to the sea, enjoying a getaway cruise to Mexico and Cabo San Lucas - our first sailing in several years as family obligations, school schedules, and work schedules never quite coincided in the meantime. What I'd hoped would coincide on the trip was an opportunity for birding, and I wasn't disappointed.

On one of our days in Cabo San Lucas, we toured to San Jose del Cabo, including a stop at one of the city's missions. As any birder knows, urban birding is never as prolific as scouting wild areas, but anywhere there are trees and shelter there is the possibility of feathered sightings. And sight I did - as we approached the mission and listened to the background provided by our guide, a small dove - nothing so much as a hyperactive, miniature mourning dove - foraged nearby. As I watched, its perky steps brought it closer, and after we were allowed to explore the mission on our own, I stepped toward it in return. It let me approach quite closely, then fluttered off several yards away to resume its industrious scrounging. In that brief flight I was still able to observe the rusty color beneath its wings, and I'd already noted the red-and-black bill, spotted wings, and scaly pattern over the head and breast. A quick consult to my field guide led to the conclusive identification: a common ground-dove.

Not a bird I ever see in Utah, of course, and at first I was thrilled to have added an unlikely lifer to my list - despite frequent cruises in the past, I've never excelled at birding on the sea, and sighting a bird on land was my only hope for a lifer on this trip. Yet after reviewing my records at home, I realized that I had seen this bird before, and based on the notes I made, it must have been during my press trip to Jamaica. It must have only been a fleeting view, however, to have not made as strong an impression on me, but I'll never forget the excitement of seeing this dove in Mexico.

Even a forgotten lifer can be amazing when it is rediscovered, common or not.

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