|Source: Alan Vernon, Wikimedia.org|
Four potential White-faced Ibises had been spotted and photographed, most in juvenile plumage. The red eye was visible in the photos. I did manage to see all four birds, but I would not have been able to positively ID them if I hadn't already known what to look for. I only saw them in flight.
Bird-watching takes me to some unusual places, and this time was no exception. The birds had been sighted near a pond on Discovery Dr, a road too new for my GPS. The city was constructing a new water main next door, so to get to the pond I had to walk over fill dirt and bracken and past the worker busy flattening the new dirt with his bobcat.
I approached the pond slowly, nervous about scaring the birds away. I stopped each time I had a glimpse of the pond, then peered around the edge of the line of bushes. Nothing but killdeer. I found a place to sit where I could see most of the pond and be shielded by the tall grasses, and there I sat for two hours.
That was the foundational part. Just sitting and waiting. It's hard to slow down and just observe. I found I kept checking my iPhone or my bird book. I had to force myself to enjoy the temperate October weather and the pleasant sound of bird song.
Patience was harder because I saw the birds early in the sit. About 10 minutes in, one ibis flushed from a grassy field (I also detected a Great Blue Heron hanging out in the tall grasses). About 30 minutes in, I saw 3 ibises fly overhead. So, task accomplished but greater view desired. Hence, the wait. They never came back, but I did see an additional 16 species, including a Gray Catbird and a Belted Kingfisher, two species I find fascinating.
This was a life-bird for me and an unusual bird to find in Tennessee at any time, so it was worth the 90-mile drive. I regret not having a better view, which I would have gotten if I had stayed an hour longer. Overall, this experience's greatest value was that it forced me to slow down and focus on something fun.