A week ago I went to Puerto Vallarta to try to save my broken heart. Unfortunately I failed to achieve this, and I had to return home with unfulfilled cause. This would normally have been a hurtful experience, humiliated and leaving no perspective for the future. But it wasn’t so. I felt pretty good, and optimistic, because unexpected things happened!
During my failed mission I was staying at Rancho Primavera at Bonnie’s good will. I had no plans about birding on the ranch. Both because my thoughts were elsewhere, and because the normal birding season was over. But despite of this I still brought my birding gear. Routinely after 30 years of birding, I guess. You never know.
And exactly so! Bonnie and I had not been talking about birds while planning for my arrival, so when I got there my eyes grew big, when she told me that a hermit had been coming to the feeder during the last several days!
Even though I live 6 hours from the ranch, I still consider it one of my local birding patches. During the years I have grown found of the place like so many others, and my bird list is one that I maintain with diligence and affection. I had seen the hermit on the property before, but only once and only a brief view down by the river. Bonnie had often talked about the hermit coming to feed on the flowers in front of her kitchen window, but never had it been there while I was visiting, so now that I finally was there at the right moment, heart matters were put aside, and I soon positioned myself in front of the feeders to get a view and hopefully some good photos. That turned out reasonably well, even though the bird was testing my patience with its very brief and far between visits. But a real beauty it was.
To say that this experience was enough to outweigh the negative feeling of my broken heart, would be to stretch it a bit too far, but it certainly did spark a light of joy within me, that was very welcomed, and in retrospective, one day when my heart had healed, I’m sure I would be able to look back on the trip as being worth it, just for this one magnificent encounter. You can therefore understand that what happened the next day, took me to another level. Beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
Because the next day, while waiting to find out if I was doomed or saved, I couldn’t resist it, and went birding up the ridge behind the main house. It was hot midday, the activity was low, and still, when I walked down 2 hours later, it was with a feeling of having been blessed by the higher beings.
At the top of the first trail I suddenly heard movement through dry leaves, and could then see something move slowly through the under story. One more White-tipped Dove I first thought, but when it didn’t fly away as the doves normal do, I put my binoculars on it, and to my big surprise I was looking at a beautiful Thicket Tinamou! Completely exposed, it stopped for a while, and I was ready to take a perfect photo of this very difficult species to see. But unfortunately I had brought Bonnie’s two big dogs with me. She had just left for Europe the same morning, and I thought the dogs would like some company, until they got used to being alone(honestly, I also brought them because I felt a bit lonely too). Both of them had fallen behind, and it was just me and the tinamou standing there in front of each other. But in that same moment they caught up with me, and of course the big blue-eyed toddler, a Great Dane, soon got track of the tinamou, and it disappeared before I got more than a photo of the rear part. What a shame. But it was still my first seen bird on the property, and my first photo ever of the species, why I couldn’t really complain. And less so because the rear part is normally what you use to separate this tinamou from the others here in Mexico. So why bother with the rest of the bird ;-)
But there was more to come. Next trail, up the dry slope, and suddenly I heard a faint call that sounded like a Flammulated Flycatcher. A thorn forest specialty this bird is normally not seen on the property, but perhaps now, because the vegetation everywhere was so dry, the habitat here was suited for it too. But at first I wasn’t even sure if it was this species. The calling sounded far away and too scarce to conclude anything from. This, however, is often how it behaves, why I patiently insisted with a playback now and then, and finally it came in, and allowed me to take a few confirming photos. My first on the property, indeed, and I didn’t know what to think. Two good and unusual sightings in a row.
But believe it or not, another last goodie was to come: Because a bit further up the trail, a thought occurred to me, that maybe some of the other thorn forest species had reacted the same way. I was especially thinking about the Red-breasted Chat. I’ve had it once, in September, up on the ridge out the blue gate behind the rental houses. This is actually outside the property, but Bonnie and I decided then to add it to the list, because it was so close. There are a few other observations in ebird of the species, but since many visitors tend to add observations from outside the ranch to the ranch hotspot, it still remains uncertain to me if they were good observations made on the property.
My intent with the chat was therefore based on the belief that the bird had still not been registered directly on the property, and it would be so great if I could change this fact here and now.
And it turned out I could! I played the song a few times, and vupti, a surprising response came out of the tangle, and then vupti, in came first a male and then a female! A pair, and the perspective that they might even be there to breed, was thrilling. I insisted on the birds until I got a few photos for documentation, and then I hurried away to let them return to their peace. And then it was lunch time for man and dogs.
In the evening that same day, I went up the ridge outside the property, and there I got to see another tinamou, and got better photos of it!
Life certainly moves in mysterious ways. Before leaving for this trip I was no where near thinking or dreaming about any of the these incredible bird experiences I had gotten the last two days.
Of course I would never have chosen the birds over a reconciled relationship, but when I drove back, I couldn’t help wonder, if this hadn’t indeed been a message from beyond: That it was time to accept the inevitable loss of a beloved heart, and start looking forward toward all those wonderful things that were truly resonating with me, and surely awaiting!