19 September 10
My 700th North American bird was the Colima Warbler, back in April 2008. At that time I decided to stop chasing birds — partly an environmental decision, partly because getting from 700 to 750 is a very expensive proposition, partly because I’m interested in other things too — and start sketching them in earnest, which i’ve done more or less regularly.
A Spanish cellular biologist has shown up for three months; a plea for help going birding turned into a trip to Point Reyes today with Yolo Audubon. A happy walk up the path from seeing a pair of harlequin ducks hauled out on the rails, preening, was interrupted by a somewhat breathless Rich Stallcup saying he had a yellow-green vireo back up the hill.
That’s a life bird for me, one I’ve missed several times elsewhere. A couple have arrived in the mail since my 700th bird — the result of split species, which are a sort of bureaucratic ornithological irritation — but I have never been within walking distance of a life bird since. We hoofed uphill in the intermittent drizzle and saw it feeding in the thistles by the parking lot, obviously exhausted and ravenous. It later took several baths in the water trough, near where the black and white warbler was duking it out with nuthatches.
Several people got life birds today (José Alberto got over 40; this number would have been doubled if the weather had been better). We saw few warblers (though a nice long-tailed weasel den sort of made up for it under dripping cypresses up at the lighthouse), no elk. But a day spent in the wet (to parched Central Valley birders, this was heaven) with great people and a bird worth toasting with Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut is a day worth spending, and we are home happy if weary.
A sketch made in the rain of the bird (not great before it got dripped on) will follow on Bird by Bird.
21 August 08
2 March 08
No Al B. Tross, But...
With a friend visiting from Massachusetts and another one eager to see more California birds, we took a trip out to Point Arena and Bodega Bay yesterday. It’s a long drive: it took four hours just to get to Point Arena from Davis. We left at five.
The Laysan albatross that has been wintering in Point Arena for the past 14 years wasn’t there. We knew it was a long shot, since this is right around the time it has historically departed for (presumably) Hawaii, but we decided to spend a good time there, look for it, see what else we saw, and head down the coast.
Point Arena yielded a flotilla of horned grebes; black oystercatchers, and Hutton’s vireo plus unhoped-for Allen’s hummingbirds; Willow Creek Road, just south of Jenner, turned up wrentit and more Allen’s; Bodega Bay was an orgy of gulls (we had all four cycle Western gulls on adjacent picnic tables for comparisons) plus my first black scoters for many years, Pacific loon, the huge and impressive array of shorebirds, more photographable oystercatchers, pelagic cormorants, pigeon guillemots, and a fierce northwest wind by mid-afternoon.
These long birding days, in the company of enthusiastic and skilled people, are delightful, even if you pay for the early mornings and long drives later. Christopher, I hope you got home safely. We loved having you here. Fernando, cuando quieras, salimos otra vez…