My day started early. I left the house at 4:45 a.m. to start a riparian survey on Agency Creek, beginning with three stops on our farm. I am not an early morning person. I have no trouble waking up, but getting my brain functioning is another thing entirely.
Loaded down with the necessary tools of the trade: GPS, watch, cell phone, clipboard with data forms, timer, binoculars and camera, I staggered out the door and hiked the 1/4 mile or so to my first stop through misty rain. I dutifully pulled Dad's watch out of my vest pocket and peered at the time in the near dark, punched the timer, and jotted down all the birds I heard. I certainly couldn't see them but they were cheerfully bubbling away as birds tend to do in the early dawn.
At the conclusion of the 5 minute survey, I fought my way through soggy bushes to spot #2... and discovered that the watch was gone. It must have dropped out of the vest pocket... somewhere. Fortunately, I had my cell phone for telling time. It would not be a big deal to lose a watch except it was my Dad's and I've kept it with me ever since Dad died. But the survey had a time limit so I hurried onward.
By 6 a.m., I was done with our three sites and ready to head up Agency in the car. Johnny wanted to come with. He had a very bad day yesterday but riding in the car has been feeling good to him so he gave it a try. And it turned out to be fine. Something about riding in a car relaxes Johnny. In fact, when I'm driving, he always falls asleep. He says it's because he's afraid of my driving so it's better to keep his eyes closed, but I know he comes close to falling asleep when he's driving so I don't believe that. Besides, I'm a very safe driver. Most of the time.
When we came home about 10 a.m., I hurried out to milk goats and feed the patient horses. With chores finally done around noon, I hiked back to site #1, overlooking the creek behind the horse pasture. I was hoping the watch had dropped out right away and would be there in the bushes at site #1 waiting for me. And it was! Oh happy day. I put the watch in a deeper pocket.
Back in the house after eating breakfast at lunch time, I sat down to fill out the paperwork and upload today's photos from the camera. I couldn't find the camera. I searched the house, all my pockets, under the seats in the car, in the barn in case I'd taken it out there after we returned home. No camera. We discussed where I'd last used it. I wasn't sure but knew I'd taken photos of a flycatcher 3 stops from where we quit.
Back in the car we went and up the road. Johnny drove and I got out and hiked into all the sites where I'd trekked after the last photos were taken (near as I could remember). I fall down in the underbrush often so I searched those sites thoroughly. At the very last site where we stopped, I remembered clambering through downfalls trying to find a better viewpoint of a Dipper on a rock in the stream... and falling between logs. I retraced my steps, fell again, and found the camera! I must have had the camera strap over just my shoulder instead of head and shoulder, so when I fell it slipped off without me noticing. I don't even have the excuse that it was still dark as it was at 5 a.m. for the first stop, when I lost the watch.
But all's well that ends well and all that was lost is found. We plan to do the second half of our survey tomorrow, starting at 5 a.m. where we left off yesterday. Here's hoping that I can hang on to everything, keep from breaking a leg in the downfalls, and that Johnny's back still enjoys the drive.
The flycatcher came out as just a silhouette. But the value of that photo lies in the fact that I took it, and thus had a place to start looking for the lost camera.