Friday, March 28, 2014

The Bridges of Lee County

A Muscovy Duck watches her chicks in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Cape Coral, FL.  Kathie and I both spoke about this bird and how she had found them there.  These birds count in Florida on the ABA.  I meet Olga who watches out for their safety....and maybe go out for a date.   
So I have this friend who decided to go to Cape Coral, FL with her mother.  Little did I know that we both were heading to the same place at different times!  Then Kathie begins to bird those areas without me!!!  I mean really, Ms. Brown!  So what's a friend to do while she's there?  Team up.....via the phone and internet!

Monk Parakeet-another bird we spoke about in great detail (although we went to different places to find this bird)
Somewhere along the way, I remember her telling me that she was going to Florida, but I had forgotten where it was that she was going to visit.  Until she gets there.  I'm excited about all the birds she's seeing.  She's excited about all the birds she's seeing.  And I'm thinking, "Where are you?"  Cape Coral.  No way.  Then she tells me that I never listen.  It's true.

Mottled Duck-I had NO idea that there was such a creature until she told me to keep an eye or two open for these VERY Mallard looking ducks
Then she starts telling me about the places she's visiting.  While we're on the phone, I'm researching all the spots that she's visiting.  She tells me some of the birds she'd like to find.....which also happen to be some of the birds I'D like to find.  And while we're only several millions of miles away, we're still working together as a team.  Almost every night, we chat on the phone for an hour or two about her day.  If you don't know Kathie, she does like to chat.  I hate talking on the phone, but with Kathie it doesn't phase me.  She's one of the most positive people I know.  Plus we both like to do a lot of reading and research together about....birds.   

"Keep your eyes open around the canals", said Ms. Brown.  After some near car crashes, I learned to both bird and drive at the same time in Florida.  Glad I did!  Found this Glossy Ibis hanging out.  
We've been apart now for over 2 months.  Each time I find a new life bird, I get a little emotional because she isn't here to share in the fun.  That's what we did together.  We'd enter data for ebird during the week from our patches and then on the weekend, we'd work for new birds. So when she was in Florida, we worked on the various patches each day.  I'd read her reports and her Facebook updates and then at night research areas where the birds were being seen.  We'd talk everything through thoroughly to maximize our time out in the field.  Florida, like Arizona, is a rich area full of bird life and one of the states one must visit when doing a big year. Not that I'm doing one.  My mission is to seek out new life and new civilization. 

"There are Osprey everywhere!"  She wasn't kidding. Here a Juvenile Laughing Gull wants to share the meal. 
But Ms. Brown had been so busy with her own life that she hasn't had a moment to breathe.  So when she found the rare Florida Scrub-Jay, she had that moment I have been experiencing since she abandoned me. Deep intense sadness. She couldn't go on with her life without me;) I'm joking of course, but I knew it would happen eventually. Her birding buddy, me, wasn't there to share in the exciting experience.  I was so happy and excited for her but I knew how she felt.  The same thing happened to me while I was looking at the Rosy Finches on Sandía Crest in New Mexico. I had to walk to the shirt rack in the far corner of the store away from everyone. That was something she had wanted to do, but couldn't because of her move back to Maine.  

"Bald Eagles fly over your head!"  They sure did.  WOW!
Both of our spouses joke about us being married.  We're not.  We're just awesome friends who love birding a little too much. Perhaps it's a bit obsessive. But growing up on a National Geographic made me want this life.  Speaking Spanish gave me the keys to explore.  And meeting Ms. Brown was like being back in college again.  We were friends who could spontaneously go out on a birding trek.....anywhere.  Arizona holds many secrets unknown to the public, but the birds exposed us to this incredible world. We're both very curious individuals who like to explore every nook and cranny. Florida was a new playground we both could discover together. And did.

I find it interesting that such a common bird like this Blue Jay is so difficult to get on camera.  So I used my secret weapon.....nuts!
So we never did get to bird together in Lee County, Florida. It was such a bizarre event. So while I was writing this post, I began to laugh at the title. There are several major bridges in Lee County and we crossed them nearly every day to get to all the hotspots! The quote below is from the first book that made me cry. Who knew books could do that to a person?!!!  Anyhow, you might recognize it. 

"There are so many Palm warblers here!"  It wasn't a lie. 

“It's clear to me now that I have been moving toward you and you toward me for a long time. Though neither of us was aware of the other before we met, there was a kind of mindless certainty bumming blithely along beneath our ignorance that ensured we would come together. Like two solitary birds flying the great prairies by celestial reckoning, all of these years and lifetimes we have been moving toward one another.” (Quote from the Bridges of Madison County)  This of course speaks of the love relationship that develops in that book, but it also works with friendship.   

"You'll have Gray Catbirds on almost all your counts."  No kidding!
As for the bridges of Lee County? Well they cost 2 dollars to cross and 6 bucks if you're heading over to Captiva Island.  But that is another story.....

For more on birds from around our world, check out Wild Bird Wednesday!


  1. Chris Rohrer, now you 've made me cry...again! I am glad we were able to share this experience even if we were thousands of miles and 2 weeks apart! Thank you for this post. I look forward to your visit in June!

  2. Chris, it would have been nice to plan the trip at the same time Kathie was there. Great post and awesome photos. Florida is an awesome place to bird. Congrats on your Florida lifers..

  3. I want to cry because you were only two weeks apart from birding together in FL.

  4. What a special story....and it's so nice to have a special friend like that to share your love of birding with!!
    And SUPER shots of the Birds too :)

  5. What a great post. I laughed when I read the title too. Such an awesome friendship. Oh, I enjoyed your photos too! :-)

  6. What an incredible story of two VERY special friends... I feel about George like you feel about Kathie since we both love the same things. When I see a waterfall (like you see a bird), I want him there with me to share this precious moment...

    Great photos from Lee County, FL....

  7. A wonderful post Chris - it made smile and cry! What a great friendship you share :) Great photos :)

  8. Between you and Kathie I have cried twice this week, I am going to have to invest in a company that makes tissues!

  9. Those kinds of friendships are rare. Treasure it.
    Great photos as always.

  10. aww. a sweet connection between you two.

  11. A beautiful serie! Well done!

  12. Awesome post! Those ducklings are adorable.

  13. Great variety! I love the Ibis and Osprey!

  14. Great photos of all the birds and a birding buddy makes everything extra good.

  15. Looks like you had a pretty good time in our Sunshine State!
    Thanks for describing how special birding can be especially when it's shared.


Thanks for stopping by!