It seems at Cape Spear the worse the weather is the better the birding is. I took on one of those foggy, cold, misty mornings last week and ended up with an Ovenbird. This bird was on my "watch list," but I really didn't expect to find it like this. Through the fog, I strained to see the many sea birds feeding just off the surf. It was crazy busy with bird action, but I couldn't get a good look nor picture of any of the many species. Having already withstood the worst that Nature threw at me, I decided to walk around the sea-side steps up toward the lighthouses. I have come across some nice birds back there. Nothing, but more wind, greeted me. When I reached the top, I almost went down the shortcut to my car. Memories of some great birds reported near the lighthouse in the past motivated me to go upward rather than downward.
Just as I reached the top of the back stairs, I noticed something flipping around on the porch of the Heritage Shop. Ahhh, there was hope of seeing a good bird yet! I stopped where I was and shot four pictures from quite a distance. Then, it flew toward the next upward flight of stairs. Ugh, why did it have to go "up." I slowly followed but didn't see it until it burst into flight again from somewhere around the stairs. Yes, up! This time it landed in the pile of storm-damaged fence wood. I thought, "I've got you." I stayed for 20 minutes staring at that wood pile, soaked by the mist and blown off balance by the wind. Finally, I approached the pile. It bolted! Yes, up and then down over the side of the hill. I sized up whether I could do the hill, but it was just too slippery. I was just going to have to settle for the pictures I had and hope they were good enough to ID the bird.
When I looked at the shots more closely, the only bird I could think of was a pipit. Had I gone through all of that for a pipit? It never dawned on me to look in the warbler section for this sparrow-like bird. Well, with the help of Dave Brown again, the bird was identified as an Overbird. It seems hardly fair to "tick" off a bird when I couldn't even identify it myself. However, after what I went through to try to see it better, I put a bold TICK on my checklist and can only hope to see another Ovenbird under better conditions.
I have to confess though that it is quite a thrill to pursue and unknown bird and outwit it. Most of the time, it is clear, the bird outwits me.