Try N Try Again

Posted by Jane N on

As I described in a previous story I have been trying to find the Gray Jay's of the far North in Pittsburg. Beth and I searched for two days to no avail. I took her to all the places that Ebird listed sightings for and the places I have seen them before. I have not seen a Gray Jay in over two years. Gray Jays are similar to Blue Jays but as its name implies they are various shades of gray. They only live in the high elevations of the North. The legend is that they are the spirits of lost hikers roaming the mountains. They are friendly birds and will seek out humans. Many have taken pictures of these friendly birds sitting in their outstretched hand to enjoy offerings of peanuts or dried fruit. I know they are there somewhere! I just gotta try n try again to find them.

This past weekend we were in Pittsburg to do some Fall maintenance. The cabin has slipped off some of its supports and John needed to jack up the edges and reposition the posts. He needed to crawl underneath and re-stack the cinder blocks that had fallen. After working at it for a while John decided to take a break and offered to take me to the places he had seen the Gray Jay last hunting season. He and the guys even had them eating out of their hands, so he was confident he could locate them again for me. Of course, he also wanted to scout out good hunting spots for when the guys head up in October.

So we headed out to Scotts Bog in search of the Gray Jay. We saw nothing, no Jays, just silence. It was strangely quiet. I wondered if the fact that the State had to replace the worn Dam holding back the bog had disturbed the bird life. The area is different now. I believe it has made a difference. I guess I'll have to try n try again till the birds return to the area. But for now, we struck out, no Gray Jays.

We headed to East Inlet to continue our search. There was bird life there, there were flocks of Golden Crowned Kinglets flitting about. There were regal Great Blue Herons walking along the shoreline in search of frogs for dinner. There was a Mink that came down to the water's edge for a drink, we saw a Red Fox along the roadside. There were Northern Flickers around every corner but no Gray Jays.

John wasn't ready to give up yet, there was another place he wanted to try n try again. We bounced along Macalloway Road at what John called “road hunting speed” to the spots he said they had fed the Gray Jays last Fall. We stopped and I searched the trees, I shook the bag of goodies I had for the birds, I threw some bits of food on the ground hoping to draw their attention. These were all techniques that have worked before but not this time, no Gray Jays flew in for dinner.

I know they are out there people have seen them but it wasn't in the cards for us that day. When we got back to the cabin a cold drizzle had begun. I sat in the cabin in the rocking chair in front of the window going over my bird guides. I thought to myself why am I bothering searching for the Gray Jay? I've seen them before, I've counted them in my birding life list what does it matter if I see them again or not? I'm being silly wasting time searching for a bird that doesn't want to be seen there are other more pressing things I should be doing with my time. So the Gray Jay wins and I lose this round.

As I'm gazing out the window doubting my choices there on the ground is a Bicknell's Thrush! I have been trying to spot this thrush all summer. This is also a bird that only lives in the higher elevations and is known to be very secretive and hard to spot. I've heard his song but I'd been unable to spot the bird in the trees. Beth remembers we heard one singing when you visited the cabin and I was trying then to spot him. It was as if the bird was teasing me all summer, I would hear him singing but as soon as I got close it would stop. Then I would hear him off in another direction and as soon as I would get there again he would stop singing. I had given up hope of ever seeing one! And now here he was on the ground right in front of the window. Add another new bird to my life list. It's funny how things can work out that way, you think you've failed then Nature will surprise you when you least expect it.

I plan a couple more trips to the cabin before Winter sets in and I'm gonna try n try again to see those elusive Gray Jays! I'm not ready to give up on finding those Gray Jays yet. I'll keep you all up to date on my quest.

Happy Birding, Jane

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