|The incredible beauty of Portal, AZ. A must visit place for all people to see, especially for birders|
As we left our beautiful trek from Box Canyon and the grasslands, we hit a wifi spot and saw that a very rare Eared Quetzal was seen in the Chiricahua Mountains. I have waited so long to see that bird. It would be a lifer and one from my bucket list. But by the time we got back from our birding, we were both too tired to make the nearly 3 hour drive to a remote part of the state. It would have been dark by the time we got there.
We planned to go if the bird had been seen again. We were set for a Thursday trek to Portal. After the day it was reported, the bird was nowhere to be found for several days. "I should have gone! I should have gone!" The group who saw the bird had really nice views. Usually this bird is a heard only species in the dense forest. Sometimes, it's seen but briefly! But on that first night reported, the bird was so cooperative for that evening crew of birders that they even got pictures! I was angry with myself. I remember a friend's words to me about rare birds. "You can rest when you're dead." I was so angry with myself for NOT TRYING! Even if I had dipped, I would have felt better because I had made the attempt. Now it was too late. I'd probably have to wait another 10-20 years or go to Mexico. The latter was the original plan.
|Western Wood-Pewee building a nest|
|Yarrow's Spiny Lizard|
This cooler came at the right time because I was going to get to see my friend Gordon for a Saturday morning run up to Globe where we would bird. We hadn't been able to bird for several months and I was looking forward to seeing him. That night, I set all my equipment out, including my new iceless cooler! I prepped my meals for the day and then all hell broke lose.
|This pic is not mine, from KOLD news|
All my stuff still sat on the table. The backpack. The cooler. The camera and water flask were charged and full. Then a birding friend, Steve V, posted on FB that the quetzal was seen again. I grabbed my face mask and without thinking, loaded my vehicle, the USS Betty White, with all my stuff. And I drove.
|My first view of the Eared Quetzal!|
This bird, like its close relative, the Elegant Trogon, blends perfectly into the shadows of trees.
|Then the bird flew our way! NO WAY!|
Its relative, the Resplendent Quetzal, did the same thing to me years ago in Guatemala where I interviewed locals to find a secure place to see this bird. On a time constrained trip, there are only small windows, moments really, to observe these birds. Living in a place gives you more time to enjoy these birds. As a traveler with an agenda, if you miss it, it's over. In Guatemala, the quetzal is their national bird. It's also the name of their currency. And it also happens to be a rare bird. My friend followed my crazy butt to the area near Coban EARLY on that foggy morning. Together, with a wonderful family, we saw so many of these birds flying around eating avocados. We also had avocados with our breakfast after observing these amazing birds. It was one of those perfect days. They were never seen again while we were there on that day. It was a 30 minute window and then....it was done.
|We share an exciting moment with this little girl as she grabs video of these amazing birds. She stays with Lynda and helps point all the birds hiding in the trees from her. We are amazed by the quetzal show near Coban|
|This is the print I ordered for my wall.|
I hope others are able to find him safely. After more than a week now, this bird still makes me smile. This is what bucket list birds do; they inspire and capture the magic of birding. It's about exploration. It's about sharing an experience. And it's also about observing an incredible bird that you never thought possible. The Eared Quetzal is like a unicorn. We see the bird in our guides, but never hope that we'll ever see something so amazing. Surely this bird does not exist. I promised myself that if I ever saw this bird, I'd make a photo and hang it up in my house. I've ordered the picture and I'm drywalling, texturizing and painting the area where it will go. If this is the last bird I ever see, I will be a happy person. Until next time....