30 October 2009

sapsucker, meet "c-trail"

We met at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in February of 2006. I'd jumped at the chance to kill time in the Rio Grande Valley while waiting for my transcripts to get sorted out (they never did), so I was a bird walk/canoe trip minion at Matt's weekend haunt.

In January of 2006, a wayward Red-naped Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis) turned up at SANWR's "Pintail Lakes" near "C-trail." The winter range in Texas is pretty much the El Paso area, so the bird was quite unexpected. It wasn't until the 5th or 6th of February that I was able to hit the trails and see it, so Matt and I can place our meeting sometime shortly after that, but before Feb 25th, when it was last reported (thanks to Mary Gustafson for the sleuthing!)

Here's a link to a decent refuge map. On the map, you can see that the rightmost highlighted trail is "C-trail" and to the right of the "Pintail Lakes" label is an uncolored circle... that circle is the body of water along which the Red-naped Sapsucker was being seen. It, of course, was on the east side of the pond and the viewers were stuck on the path on the west side, just to the north of the official "C-trail" route.

Ever since early 2008 I've been looking through boxes in Houston, unsuccessfully, for a photo of the bird that brought us together. Jim, one of the refuge volunteers, had printed out a photo for me and autographed it upon request. It only resurfaced about a week into October when I dug up a box that had a lot of paperwork from college and it was tucked in with a few other photos from friends (one of whom is now my regional e-bird editor! *waves at Chris*)

...there it is. The "wayward sapsucker" that collided these lives. I should dig up a photo of the birders who went to Nick's wedding, since that was the group that caused the second bumping-into and ultimately led to exchange of phone numbers. There might even be a photo of a certain Green Violet-ear or soggy Heidi from Colorado Bend State Park to add to the mix.

For now, however, The Wayward Sapsucker portrait should suffice.

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