I am happy to report the addition of two new species on my life list recently. The prothonotary warbler (if you wonder where this name came from, click here), and as you probably guessed by the title of this article, the dickcissel (no, that isn't a typo). While the prothonotary warbler was no doubt an exciting addition to the ol' life list, I was most excited about the dickcissel sighting, which is what this post focuses on.
I remember a year or so back there was a dickcissel irruption in south western Ohio around Harrison. I remember the occasion even garnered an eBird article. I had hoped for a dickcissel and looked up their complete ID and listened to their song so that I would be able to recognize one whether I heard or saw it. But see or hear them I never did. Until last week, of course- two years after the irruption began (but hey, I still knew what it was when I saw it). Here is how the sighting came about:
I have just recently begun walking at a little park about ten miles from my house, where, up until this year, I had only been a handful of times. I now regret this, however, because the area turns out to be a hotspot for birders such sa myself. On one trip I can see 30+ species, where on my own property (with the exceptions of spring and fall migration) the checklists number around 22 species. But getting back on track, one evening last week I arrived at the park around 6:30 PM, and no sooner than I had stepped out of the car, I heard an unfamiliar bird calling from a telephone wire nearby. The bird was a good distance away, but I immediately zeroed on the culprit: a mere black silhouette perched on the distant wire. My pair of binos quickly (indeed, automatically) shot to my eyes- I couldn't quite make it out, but it looked like a lark sparrow. I still would have been happy with a lark sparrow, becuase that too, would have been a lifer for me. I quietly [ok, bumblingly (if that is a word)] crept closer and then I realized- I had stumbled upon the elusive dickcissel! And of course, I have a photograph to share, which I will post below as per usual. And how did I find it? I heard an unusual bird song and decieded to check it out. And that, my friends, is why a bird watcher is 60% ears and 40% eyes (a nose generally doesn't count in bird watching... darn).