Birding Under The Weather #mondayblogs

Thursday I felt a little “funny”.

Friday morning I felt “not quite right”.

By Friday afternoon I could feel myself starting to slip in No Man’s Land.  I was coming down with the disgusting cold that was going around my workplace.

I’m proud to say that I can shake most colds.  I may have a quick symptom or two and the short lived bug moves along to its next victim.  However, this has turned into one of those colds that cause you to stare at nothing and occasionally moan.  Stupid cold.

I was treating it with the best known remedies in my arsenal.  First, I was eating Mrs. Fearnow’s Delicious Brunswick Stew.  That’s right, ailments.  You should be in fear now of this delicious Brunswick stew.  My family has fed me this time and time again. (My grandmother would also throw in Caffeine Free Coke for good measure.)

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I recommend popping the top and eating it right out of the can.

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Too much of a wuss to do the real deal and eat it straight out of the can with a spoon?  I hear you.  In that case, put it in a coffee mug with a cat on the front.  Before enjoying your stew, you should down a shot of Dayquil.

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You see that right.  That is indeed a shot glass of DayQuil.  If you are going to hang with this cootie infested gangsta… you’ve got to be real about your DayQuil.  Get out the shot glass and be a real G.

This was how I was planning to spend Sunday.  Downing the DayQuil and drowning my sorrows in Mrs. Fearnow’s Delicious Brunswick Stew.  I was ready to veg out and get better.  Then I received this message from my bird watching mentor.

“I know you are sick but this bird is worth getting out of bed for…..”

That, my friends, is the Western Kingbird.  Isn’t he gorgeous?  Absolutely amazing in his natural setting.  The thing about the Western Kingbird is he should be in the western United States, not Virginia.

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Saturday and Sunday, the bird had been spotted perching on a power line twenty miles south of my home.  For someone who doesn’t fly (read:me) this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see this bird.  I could barely slink off the couch but I knew I had to go find this bird.  At this point, he may have continued migrating on his lost route but I had to try.

After getting dressed, I grabbed my Honey -n-Lemon Hall’s cough drops, my Sibley’s Field Guide and my binoculars.  I stumbled to my car in a way that may have caused a neighborhood panic about the Zombie Apocalypse.

I know what you are thinking.  “Mel, you sound like you may have been too sick to drive.”  Don’t worry!  I thought about that.

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I brought Cody.  You may ask, “Why on Earth did you think Cody was up to the challenge of driving if you couldn’t?”

I can tell you that the best sign that a dog is ready to take care of you in a time of illness is if he tries to lick the snot out of your nose.  See the look on his face?  That dog is determined to help.

A side note here.  If you are asking your dog to drive the car for you, you will want to make sure he is wearing his best winter coat.  A recent study showed that police officers are much more lenient on unlicensed dog drivers if they are dressed nicely.

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We headed South, Cody with his nose out the window and I with my brain in a fog.  We turned off the highway and began patrolling a three mile area of country road where the bird had been spotted.  Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.  I gave Cody an accurate description of what he should have been looking for on the power line.  This was either a ballsy move to trust a dog who doesn’t understand eating plastic is bad or a true sign of my mental stability while sick.

An hour later, the only thing we had found was a neighborhood of concerned citizens to why a white blazer kept driving by their houses at ten miles an hour.  I pulled off the road and blew my nose.

“Cody, I think we are going to have to give up.  It’s been an hour and we haven’t seen a thing.  We missed him, Cody.  We missed him.”

Now, that dog doesn’t understand bird watching, but he does understand disappointment.  (Examples:  Cody, why did you eat that plastic?  Cody, why did you pee on my new flowers?  Cody, why did you chew up the azalea bush?  Cody, why did you tear open that bag of coffee beans?  Cody, WHY?)  After I declared our failed birding attempt, he sighed and placed his head on my shoulder.

“Let’s go, Bud.”

Moments if not seconds after I put the car in gear, the Western Kingbird suddenly appeared.  I drove in panic mode to the closest driveway and jumped out of the car.  I can’t tell you how good it feels to see something that is so rare even if you are sickly.

I also can’t tell you why no one called the cops on us.  It had to be quite the scene to those homeowners.  A girl hobbling up their driveway, peering with binoculars at the sky and then in their backyard.  The girl who may be infected with some sort of plague is yelling to her dog in the car, (“Cody!  Are you looking?  Did you see how yellow his belly was?  This is AMAZING!” *cough, cough, cough*) and to the trees (Mr. Kingbird!  I am so thrilled I had the chance to meet you.  I’m so sorry you are off course but this is truly an honor!)

Some time passed and I realized it was time for us to move along.  I hopped in the car to head back to my couch but not before stopping at the Machipongo Trading Post and getting a celebratory snack.

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Mmmm… brownie sundae and Bac’n’Cheese dog cookies!

That’s another thing about Cody.  He doesn’t understand birding, but he certainly understands the post-birding reward system.

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For more birding adventures with Cody, check out That Dog Won’t Hunt and From The Desk Of The Dog:  How My Summer Flew Away. 

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