Amy at WildBird on the Fly, just released the latest results for the belated First Friday for January. Congratulations go out to the Marvelous in Nature's own Seabrooke Leckie. She wrote the winning entry this month (sometimes in the last three hours before the deadline - talented or what?) of an unexpected surprise on a Christmas Bird Count. Way to go Seabrooke.
First Friday is a writing contest put on by WildBird on the Fly, involving writing a 500 word short story themed around birds or birding. The birds can not be anthropomorphized. Winners are usually announced on the First Friday of each month (this month was late due to holidays and Amy's work commitments.
Go read Seabrooke's entry here. If you are at all interested here is my entry for January. I've already got February's entry in.
“This is the last pelagic birding trip I ever take” thought Barney. He had, however, reason to be unhappy with the charter, seeing how he was bobbing alone somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, clinging to an empty ice chest.
Barney was in the midst of a Big Year. Not a record breaking Big Year, a personal one. He had set out January 1st to see just how many species of birds he’d see. This had been his second trip out on a charter, and he’d been hoping to fill in some blanks left from the last one.
It hadn’t gone well. He was in the washroom when someone shouted “Craveri’s Murrelet”, an unexpected bonus bird. He missed it. By the time he made it up on the deck, trailing toilet paper stuck to his boot, it was gone.
Then he forgot “one hand for the boat” and lost his footing hurrying up the stairs when the albatross appeared. He bumped down to the bottom and though he was bruised he did little damage, to himself. His glasses, on the other hand, were finished, one lens broken in three pieces and the frames bent beyond any use. His biggest bruise came from landing on his beautiful binoculars, which were now two not so beautiful monoculars with an almost useless fixed focus.
No, it hadn’t gone well, and he sat gloomily on the deck, listening to others gush over species he was no longer interested in. They were birds already on his year list, and normally he’d still be marveling at them, excited to see such beauty found way out in this vast blue grey expanse, but he knew he’d never see them well. Not with the ancient, cheap, bargain store binoculars that someone on the crew had lent him.
He was trying to pull himself out of his funk when he smelled it. He recognized he had smelled it for some time but was too busy wallowing in self-pity to realize it. He had just snapped his head alert and just got the words “Does anybody smell gas?” out of his mouth when the explosion hit. He flew up in the air like so much debris, and felt warm for the first time since they left the harbour.
That feeling of warmth quickly disappeared as he hit the water, his broken glasses now gone. He reached out and caught hold of the ice chest. He shouted out for others but his ears were buzzing so badly he had no idea whether anyone answered. He shivered.
The bird landed tantalizing close to him and was slowly making its way closer. It was a murrelet, could it be the Craveri’s? He squinted hard, trying to resolve its features. It was almost close enough, he strained against his myopia. Suddenly it took to flight. He was still staring at the blurry, winged dot as hands lifted him suddenly into the life boat.
They were wrong when they thought his tears were in thanks.