It's really nice to have the opportunity to enjoy your favorite pastime. One of my favorites is birdwatching.
As an avid birder, I try my best to add a new species to my "life list" as well my Pennsylvania and even county list. Sounds a bit obsessive? I'm afraid so.
There's a mess of listers and chasers out there. I guess it's the thrill of the chase when in pursuit of a reported rarity or possible new county record.
Just last week, a fellow birder, Jim Hoyson, called and informed me of a rare rufous hummingbird visiting a hummingbird feeder in Luzerne County.
"I'll pick you up in a few minutes, so we can get a new Luzerne County bird." was Jim's delightful early-morning wake-up call.
"Darn, I have to lead a nature walk this morning and if I go with you to see the hummer, I might not get back in time. Unfortunately, I have to pass, but thanks for the notice. I hope you see it, so keep me posted."
A few hours later Jim's text read, "Got it! Really easy bird."
If you recall, last November I wrote a "Pocono Outdoors" column about two sightings of rufous hummingbirds in Northampton County; one at Jacobsburg State Park, the other visiting a feeder in Plainfield Township. Jim and I both chased these Pocono rarities and were successful.
The rufous hummingbird, Selasphorus rufus, is a species from the Pacific Northwest and winters 2,000 miles south into Mexico, not in northeastern Pennsylvania. They are wide-ranging hummingbirds and the most northern breeders, even up into Alaska.
It's one tough, feisty hummingbird and, might I add, a remarkable wanderer. Their annual southward migration typically ventures through the Rocky Mountains up to elevations of 12,000 feet. Not the most balmy conditions, so it's no wonder they are showing up in Pocono backyards.
That Sunday afternoon I chased with high hopes to locate that new Luzerne County visitor, which was visiting a hummingbird feeder in Slocum Township, Luzerne County. When I arrived at the location, I was greeted with a warm smile by Bernice Ziniewicz.