Like an Angel Passing Through

I stood on the covered patio at the back of the cottage where we were staying, holding a mug of hot tea with both hands to help take the chill off. I was looking for my FBOY or first bird of the year.

No, we weren’t in the U.S. or Canada where most of the continent was experiencing bracing cold weather. We were in El Tuito, Mexico, a small town up in the mountains, about an hour and half outside of Puerto Vallarta.

I wanted it to be an interesting bird and I had a good chance for that. Usually, I’m home on New Year’s Day and I end up getting a rock dove (pigeon), grackle, or in most cases, a house sparrow as my FBOY. But this year I needed something more interesting. I wanted to see a bird that was different because this year needs to be different.

I’ll get right to it: Steve had cancers in 2017. Note that I wrote, cancers. Yes, that’s plural. Two totally unrelated cancers. There were two surgeries and both cancers are now gone, according to the doctors. We will trust them and move on with our lives, but now cancer is a stalker that you’re always looking for over your shoulder as it darts into a darkened corner of an alley when you’re looking, but ready to pounce again when you’re not.

It’s clearly had an impact on us during 2017 and a big reason why I hadn’t been blogging. Our focus has been on other things that have taken up space in our minds. And for practical reasons we had to alter some of our travel plans by doing a domestic birding trip in the Fall rather than going back to Panama to do the Darien region. The Darien will have to wait for another time.

So here we were in Mexico again, cancer free and looking forward to a better year. We were at Rancho Primavera, a beautiful property near the town of El Tuito. The 200-acre retreat of woodlands, meadows and creeks is just what we needed, even if it was a little chilly in the mornings. Our cottage overlooked the large pond, and the fruit feeder and hummingbird feeder were magnets that pulled the birds out into the open. The day before we saw over 50 bird species without having to leave the porch. I used to think birding by canoe was the laziest way to bird with great results, but now this back porch is my favorite lazy birder method.

The birds were chirping, singing, tweeting, chitting and chatting, but still no one appeared for me. My tea was cooling down way too fast, the steam disappearing from my mug just as the mist was rising from the pond.

And then a flyover of a white Great Egret passed in front of me, legs stretched out behind, and with two flaps of his wings he swept over the pond to the far fields.

Like an angel passing through.

I’ll take that for 2018.


Great Egret (this photo was taken in 2016 at High Island, Texas)