- JUP/6*JVC&r '
My best day of birding was probably
New Year's Day 1988. Garland Porter
and I viewed Crane Hawk, Golden-
crowned Warbler and Clay-colored
Robin in a period of about four hours.
But the day 1 want to tell you about was
a truly memorable experience that
would not have happened had I not been
a "listing" birder with a good birding
buddy who is ready to depart anytime,
It all started at the dentist's
office. Dr. Cemy rated the extraction
on a 9.5 out often on the difficulty-to-
extract scale. After 45 minutes of
nerve-tearing agony, four, once firmly-
rooted wisdom teeth, now lay on the
table top. I drove home with bloody
spittle oozing onto the front of my shirt.
Thoughts of missing my first day of
work due to illness since 1981 pounded
in my head.
My wife, Dody, arrived home
from work, looked at my shirt and
overall condition and called a substitute
teacher to handle my classes. As I lay
on the couch that evening sucking ice
and feeling miserable, I began to think.
I could be miserable anywhere! Why, I
could be miserable in the back seat of
Garland's car heading north to Dallas'
Southside Wastewater Treatment
Facility to find the male Eurasian
Wigeon spotted several days earlier.
I called Garland. He realized,
due to my condition, there was a
possibility of having to abort the trip
before a successful sighting but, he also
realized the import of a Eurasian
Wigeon in Texas. At 4:00 a.m. Friday,
October 29, 1993, we headed north.
Under cool, dark skies we were met by
an employee of the sewage plant. He
was to take us onto the grounds and
show us the wigeon Within an hour we
would be heading south, back to the
warm comfort of our homes. Plans did
not go as expected. He showed us
where the wigeon had been in days past
and gave us a tour of his facility. Hours
passed. The weather turned foul with
colder temperatures, drizzling rain and
increasing winds. Eventually our guide
returned to work, but kindly, allowed us
to continue our search.
There were plenty of ducks
and especially large flocks of American
Wigeon, which we scanned in
desperation. Around 1:00 pjn., I had
enough. The pain in my mouth was too
much. It was cold and wet, and I
wanted to go home. I broached the idea
of going home, but I could see Garland
was thinking "wigeon," Eurasian
Wigeon. Finally I slurred a message to
him and laid down in the back seat of
the car. I felt this strategy would work.
He would wait another minute or two
and then swing the car south for the
long drive home. To my dismay and
discomfort, the car went west—back to
the sewer hole where there once had
been a Eurasian Wigeon. The weather
was deteriorating even further. Morale
was low. Mine was as low as the
bottom of the pits where I once had
I figured a little longer wouldn't
be too bad Garland wanted to drive the
south side of a pond we had searched
from the north shore earlier and would
use the window-mounted scope from
the car. The rain was coming down in
sheets now. I figured he would call it
quits before long. Then we could head
While driving on the dirt area
just south of the pond, I decided the
next time Garland stopped the car, I'd
get a coke out of the cooler in the trunk.
With coke in hand and surprisingly,
with binoculars still around my neck, I
closed the trunk and flushed a small
flock of wigeons from a concealed roost
along the near shore. And—there it was.
Lifer #488. No more than ten meters
away—the male Eurasian Wigeon.
For several seconds the small
flock remained stationary, allowing a
great view through the wind-driven rain.
The birds flew as Garland emerged
from the car., .expecting to see his life
bird. I was only able to show him the
flock with the E. Wigeon as it flew
To our surprise, the flock
quickly settled down about 80 meters
distant. As we enjoyed our prolonged
views, the wind, rain, cold and pain
disappeared momentarily, but, after a
few minutes, we realized it was pouring
rain and thick, sticky, car-inimobilizing
mud clung to the bottom of our shoes.
As sheets of rain pelted us and softened
the ground, we jumped into the car and
slinging mud, we made it onto the
asphalt and we headed home. Home!
On a scale of one to ten, I'd rank this
event about a 9.5.
David Bradford, a biology teacher at
Westbury High School, is East Texas
Sub-Regional Editor for National
Audubon's Field Notes, vice-
president/programs for Houston
Audubon Society and executive vice-
president of the ONC. A birding trip
leader for Penfeathers, David's Texas
List stands at 512, his ABA list at 615.