Monday, May 26, 2008

I Hate It When This Happens

One of my grail birds for this season is the MacGillivray's Warbler. It's not the prettiest or rarest of warblers, but I've only seen one once, and I decided to make a point of seeing one again this year.

And time after time, I struck out. I did manage to get just about every other bird any Southern Californian could hope for in the spring—dozens of bright Yellow, Black-throated Gray and Hermit Warblers, stunning Lazuli Buntings, noisy Hooded and Bullock's Orioles—but no MacG. Even worst, every birder I knew and his dog seemed to be finding them under every bush.

Glenn started teasing me about my obsession. If we split up while birding somewhere—which we often do, since he likes to stay in one spot for extended periods to photograph things—he'd tell me when we regrouped that he'd seen several of them. Whenever I came home from work, he'd tell me triumphantly that he'd seen a dozen MacGillivray's Warblers just outside the front door.

I knew that during half the times he claimed to have seen them, he had in fact been indoors gleaning important life lessons from Battlestar Galactica, and the other times, he was just messing with me. There was no way in fracking hell he could have seen one.

Then yesterday, he said it again. We had gone to San Joaquin Marsh, and he had settled with his tripod on the path near the front ponds, trying to get shots of an uncharacteristically bold Yellow Warbler. I wandered off in search of the Bell's Vireos I keep hearing, but never seeing, in the back end of the marsh. When I returned (having heard, but not seen, dozens of the little suckers), I asked him how his shooting went, and if he had seen anything special.

"Nothing much. Just a MacGillivray's Warbler."


We drove home, and Glenn downloaded his photos while I made dinner. Then he called me over. "Hey, do you know what this is?"

Oooh, a pox on that little bastard...

The bird, not my husband.

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