Yesterday was fairly improbable. First, the obvious reason:
As it turns out, the solar eclipse was pretty cool looking, but it didn’t really translate through the camera of an Android phone.
During mid-afternoon northern Indiana’s sky slowly dimmed and then got brighter again all thanks to the approximately 80% coverage the eclipse afforded us at this latitude. Here is me doing my best Daft Punk impression with a welding mask. The protective headgear will probably make an appearance again in 2024 when the encore performance will be much more impressive in Indiana.
Before the light show had totally ended I pointed my car towards southeast Michigan where I had a city council meeting to attend later that evening. I knew of a summering Whooping Crane that was directly on my route and would have been a lifer, so I decided I would try to pick it up on my way into town. I checked eBird first and then Facebook to confirm its continuing presence, the latter of which told me there was also a Swallow-tailed Kite less than 10 miles away from the crane’s known whereabouts. So I performed a double chase of two improbable birds. The kite was first, and the number one jam of the summer started playing on the radio just as I arrived. I took it to be a good sign considering the events of the day and stark black-and-whiteness of the bird.
The crowd of cars and pile of long lenses let me know right away that the bird was there. This may have been the combination easiest chase/best bird I have ever completed since it was literally exactly where I was going anyway and STKI is just so damn cool. Lifering a bird 1,200 miles out of its normal range with almost no effort on the day of a solar eclipse was just a bit too much, and the birding gods must have agreed, because I whited out on the Whooping Crane. But that just means I can hold on to hope for lifering it as a yard bird when it flies over in the spring, which may or may not be an event more improbable than the combination of things yesterday.