Marking Time in the Southern Appalachians

Avian rarities abound across much of the US but things here in NC remain quiet.

That has been the story of this summer. I knew that NC itself was not a hotspot for rarities, but I had hoped that there would be some staked-out rarities close enough to chase during the last few months. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.

Meanwhile, back in the Rio Grande Valley (and nearby), three birds I still need have shown up, and farther west, even more; not to mention all the great finds throughout the summer in Alaska. Sigh! It has been hard to sit and watch without jumping up for a mad dash across the country.

Why not chase those far-away rarities? There are two main answers to that question. The first is that we are in the midst of selling our home in Texas and we have been waiting to clear up all the paperwork before we hit the road for any major trips. The second is that long-distance chasing is not in keeping with the main theme of my Eight Years to 800!? concept. That is, it is not in keeping with the Birding on a Budget philosophy.

Anyone can see lots of species in a short time if they have unlimited cash to spend on plane tickets and specialty guided tours, but that is not what I’m trying to do. I want to see if a “reasonable budget” can produce 800 species in a “reasonable time.”

So far, I have been a bit disappointed. But that is more because of my innate impatience than the actual results to date. I have added 20 species to my new life list this year; all in the first five months. In the last two-and-a-half months … nada. I had hoped for four or five rarities and specialties during trips from our NC base to NJ and FL. Instead, I missed the European Golden Plover in NJ by a full month and struck out completely on all the FL specialties I still need to see during our short visit there. There have been other possibilities, but none have been sure enough bets to justify the cost of chasing them.

So, here I sit in NC and wait until the promise of fall, when our house is sold and we are free to set off on a merry chase of more rarities across the US.