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Monday, June 21st
Brocky Lake, Michigan
This is a nemesis species for my son, Seth. Does everyone know what a nemesis species is? It is one for which you have made several attempts to add to a list, usually your life list, but for a multitude of reasons, you are jinxed with it. You bird the "right" habitat but can't find it, others with you see it but you can't find it in your bins, you hear it but it is hidden from view, it disappears just before you arrive or appears just after you depart, and on and on. The yellow-bellied has been that way for Seth - he even saw one being banded at the MAPS banding station at Riveredge Nature Center recently, but he still can't count it on his life list. He should have been with me today as there was one singing quite close to one of my stops at a black spruce/tamarack bog, and I was able to see it briefly a couple of times.
Recently, Carl Schwartz ended a lengthy search for his nemesis - the Whimbrel - ask him to tell you the story when you see him next time. My current nemesis, and I don't even know if I should still consider it a nemesis, is the Mountain Quail. I've searched for it repeatedly in CA - I've heard it call, I've heard it in the dense undergrowth, I've seen its tracks, I've seen where it has taken dust baths, I've seen its droppings, I've found its feathers on the road, and finally this February, while watching Hermit Thrushes drinking at a huge puddle in the middle of a mountain road outside Monterey, a quail ran very rapidly across the road. I saw its size, its shape, its head plume, but it all happened so fast. It was one of those experiences that after a while you begin to wonder if it really happened.
The yellow-bellied is a late spring migrant in WI and breeds across the northern 2-tiers of counties. In general, BBS data show a positive trend in its population over the past 35 years in the US and Canada, although because of its uncommon status, there probably are not enough routes where it is present to track its population with a lot of confidence.
Do you have a nemesis species?
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