As if to prove there’s no rhyme or reason to birding, consider the parking lot birds that appear just as you’re about to leave the birding location or, even rarer in my experience, those who show up just as you arrive.
That latter scenario played out Thursday morning when I pulled into the Cold Soil Road parking lot for the Mercer Meadows Pole Farm, got out of the car, turned around and — bam! — a killdeer was about 10 feet from me.
Even more amazing, the bird didn’t take off immediately. I had enough time to grab my camera out of the back seat, flip the camera to “on,” raise it, aim and fire a couple of quick shots.
I had seen a killdeer once before at the Pole Farm a year or two back, and Merlin had occasionally lit up with their calls in the past few weeks. I couldn’t distinguish those calls, nor could I spot one of the birds nearby, no matter how hard I tried.
But my luck — and it was pure luck — changed Thursday morning.
Two days earlier, the magic bird appeared at the end of my journey. As I walked back to my car through the Pole Farm’s central path, I wondered if I’d be able to log a house sparrow. In my first visits a few years ago, I logged more than a few, and I have since doubted that those sightings were accurate. More likely they were song sparrows.
House sparrows are unusual at the Pole Farm, at least once you get beyond the parking lot. But again, logic be damned, I found one Tuesday. Or maybe it found me.
I was in my car, having closed out my e-Bird report and was ready to shift into gear and pull out of the lot. I looked up. Dead ahead on the wooden rail bumper that frames one side of the lot sat a male house sparrow.
Mr. House flew off a few seconds later, and I re-opened e-Bird and added the sighting.
Ferris Bueller had it right.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”