Motto

"Wherever I go and wherever I am, I find I should be somewhere else."

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

9-1-1 to Florida




Some days, I feel like an owl in the headlights.  I am siting in the dark, comfortable and all of a sudden I have light shined on me and I don't know where to go.....this barred owl in the Everglades and me have things in common but I am getting ahead of myself.

Big Year Day 53-54

Big Year Total:  455
Coded birds:  31
Cool animals: Bobcat, Harbor seal, gray whale, California sea lion, pronghorn, porcupine, sea otters,

Miles driven.  12,300
Flight Miles 34600
flight segments: 38   Airports: 22
Hours at sea: 22
Miles walked 55
Miles biked 2
states/ prov. birded:15


I heard of the code five zenaida dove while seeing the common crane in Texas.  I was urged by friends to go get this bird and invited by fellow big year birder, Christian Hagenlocher to join him as he was chasing this bird and was driving south to Florida.  I arrived Midland at 4pm and in the airport rearranged my flights, cancelled Phoenix and traded a potential code 5 dove for a ruddy ground dove. I looked at the United Airlines flight to Miami, the only way I could get there that night and closed my eyes and hit the "purchase" button, burning 12,500 miles and possibly finding myself have to do some fast talking to airport agents as United always bites me in the bum....always....

      I wrote my blog on Texas about what bothering me and on my mind and well I guess I offended or at least turned off some, but oh well, I write what I feel and think what I do, because that is what I have always done.....sometimes I say things I feel I must say....by the time I'm done with this year, I'm certain everyone will hate me, at least those that don't know me and that is fine...I suspect I won't need 750 birds, I may need 760, so any thought of a record is just ludicrous, and this isn't about that, .at least I didn't get a conceal and carry permit for birding...yet.  Ha..ha...eee....yeah.  Maybe I will reserve my thoughts on that.

      Christian picked me up in Miami at midnight after delayed flights, and both because they had no gate agents....and we drove south into the keys.  In Key Largo, we picked up a friend, Officer Friendly, who stopped Christian, his first traffic stop ever for not moving over properly on a DWI stop the officers were making to a dude in a neon green Dodge.
      We had a little issue when he asked for paperwork Christian had in a locked glove box, and....opening it was not an easy proposition.  He walked back to his car for advice from headquarters.  It could have been bad....Montana plated car, South Dakota passenger, a car full of camping gear and who knows what....it was too late for Officer Friendly and so he let us go, we could have went to jail.  Then pushing our luck, we found a parking lot on the edge of a bridge and pulled over to sleep in the car.  It was noisy but I fell asleep exhausted.  At first light Officers Protect and Serve came through the parking lot to kick us out.  We left for breakfast under the watchful eye of the Monroe County Police.
     We arrived in Long Key State Park and walked the trail and found Rangel Diaz from Miami and other birders and started the search for the dove.  It did take an hour and a half to find it, but when we did, it was a ham....


a wonderful code 5 bird...zenaida dove.
a bird I see in St. Martin all the time, but in ABAdom a great bird.....
why was it here...IDK, but it was the most photographed bird by me this year, I have maybe 200 shots of it, 100 are 9-10 on the photographic scale of goodness...

I also spotted a black-throated blue warbler in the undergrowth for another year bird.  Then we teamed up and searched for the grassquit and the Key West Quail dove but had no luck.  Christian and I then went off on our own.

I photographed a Reddish egret to document a bird I didn't photogrpah before


and a scissor-tailed flycatcher I counted a couple weeks back without getting a picture.


I continue to try to document and have witnesses for every bird I can, I know I can't photograph them all but I have to continue to try as there will always be ones that say I didn't see what I saw.

Over a bridge near where we slept, I spotted a frigatebird over the bridge.  It had a really odd white pattern but I just shrugged it off as bird #553 for the year...magnificent frigatebird.  Then someone reported a Lesser Frigatebird some keys south of there on the 23rd.  Was that the same bird?  It made us wonder and wished we had snapped a photo but we were on a bridge.  That was the only frigate we saw the whole time down there, too.  It may have been a missed MEGA bird but oh well, without a picture, it was just chatter and even with one, that is a hard bird to ID...and from me, I doubt I could have enough photos.  We were dreaming....when you here hoof beats, think horses not zebras...unless you are driving past the people who have the zebra on the way to the Glades and we were going there next.

We drove down to Flamingo and walked out on the very buggy and muddy Coastal Marsh Trail to call black rail and we found the spot, and saw many tracks of something, then we called them and got two great answers.  Our friends got them to storm the speaker but we were happy in the fog of mosquitoes to just get the bird.

It was my first shower in a while and a short night on the Ramada Inn in Florida City.  We had an odd dining experience at the Mutineer next door but well, it WAS food.  The morning brought traffic and more traffic and then at Loxahatchee NWR, Christian showed me the pair of smooth-billed anis, bird #5 for the trip and my 31st coded bird.


The anis were skittish and I didn't get the best picture, but well I have a wonderful life bird picture of this species so I didn't really care.

After Christian interviewed me for his birder project (he is doing research on birders) I got dropped off at Fort Lauderdale Airport for a trip home for a day to do laundry before I resume my trek out west to finish up on California birds.  I hope the added traffic to see the zenaida finds Key West Quail doves so I can come back to Florida.

As for me, I have surprisingly few bug bites that still itch.  Birding-wise, I sit at 455 birds and I feel a little behind the pace, there are good birds I need to see, and well to really have a chance at this thing for being anything, I need to break 500 as soon as I can in early March and push the coded birds up as close to 40 ASAP if there are enough birds around to do that.  Right now, I know of 4, and they have to be gotten fast.  It looks like I might have already screwed up on a MEGA frigatebird

one more look at the zenaida



#451  Zenaida dove
#452  Black-throated Blue warbler
#453  Magnificent frigatebird
#454  Black Rail
#455  Smooth-billed ani

sigh....a lot of work to do...maybe an insurmountable task but I keep going ..

Olaf
  

14 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I know magnificent frigatebird and barred owl. Autocorrect and brain fart. I can't edit just yet.

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  3. i think in the future people are gonna say "I got so and so many birds and i was only so and so many short of what Olaf got in 2016". its called setting the bar. no one likes bar setters. i say "tough sh#%". they would do EXACTLY what you are doing if they could. and birders have already said that to me

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  4. Hey Olaf… I like your attitude! 455 birds on Feb 22 and you say are “off the pace”.

    The last thing I would want is for you to get complacent, but I want to point out what a great start you are off to. I like following big years as sort of hobby, and I have lists from four recent big years done by Neil Hayward (2013), John Vanderpoel (2011), Bob Ake (2010), and Lynn Barber (2008). (I could not find a list for Jay Lehman (2013), who should be included in this group).

    Let’s look at the time required to get to 450:

    Olaf: Feb 21 (52 days)
    Neil H: April 13 (103 days)
    John V: April 6 (96 days)
    Bob A: April 16 (106 days)
    Lynn B: March 31 (91 days)

    So you are way ahead of the pace on your big year total. Of course, it could be argued that at this point the most important thing is the number of coded birds rather than the total, since there is still plenty of time left to find the regular birds.

    Let’s look at time to reach 30 coded birds:

    Olaf: Feb. 22 (53 days)
    Neil H: June 5 (156 days)
    John V: May 28 (148 days)
    Bob A: June 3 (154 days)
    Lynn B: April 15 (154 days)

    By this measure you are even farther ahead of the pace!

    Now, after all this it must be noted that the success of a big year is not determined in February…. After all, Neil did not really get serious until April. So we should just say that you have set a new standard for getting off to a fast start. Keep it up!

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    1. Thanks. But with that 1998 fallout I have to have a be up there and I've backloaded Alaska hard to compare to Hayward with way his year panned out Things always happen. Like flung home just now plane had to abort landing in Chicago. Again thanks for observations but I still feel like I'm behind I left some meat on table and have had to rechase a couple kelp gull may be my unduing but like u said. It is early.

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  5. Great work by Jeff to put things in perspective. Obviously never get complacent, which I know you wouldn't do, but pat yourself on the back for building up a formidable list of birds coded and non in such a short period of time. Remember this is an El Nino year too, and who knows what great birds await you Spring through Fall in Alaska as well as other birding destinations. It's the year of the Big Swede!!, or Swedish American anyway.

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    1. appreciate the sentiment Thor....Komito will be ahead of me no matter what I do come end of June, early July as that is the way I've structured this, his 1998 fallout, and then I hope my back end load of Alaska works. I wish i had a chance to be pat on back, that is for finishing, although if I have a goal, it will be to try to savor the moments in California with my son, my life has been in too much of a hurry these last 7 months as I continue to try to minimize how far I will be behind in early summer

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  6. Your plan sounds like a good one, Olaf. Alaska is key, as well as lots of pelagics. I wish I had Komito's 1998 chronological list, it would be fascinating to compare. Neil had 81 coded birds in 2013, so Komito must have had well over 100 given how the number of regular birds has increased since 1998.

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    1. Just what they reported in Attu that year was intense, not to take away from Neil, but that was a bunch of odd stuff, a Nutting's his first coded bird is another I doubt will duplicate.....long race against the clock and in the end we'll see how the clock compares

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  7. Where did Mike Austin come from? 522 ABA year list! Competition makes everyone better.

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  8. I noticed that too. It's the third time someone has suddenly appeared near the top of the ebird top 100 this year. None have declared that they are doing a big year according to quick google searches. Mysterious...is it 1998 again? Olaf, you are the guy doing it in the open which is the right way! And you have seen just about every good coded bird that has been reported in the ABA so far. Don't get discouraged!

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  9. I agree with an earlier comment by Olaf. Based on the numbers there's no conceivable way this new guy saw 522 birds already this year especially based on the number of checklists he entered. Looks like another guy just trying to put a life list into Ebird and made a user error.

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  10. It looks to me like these guys are tracking their sightings in notebooks or in excel or something and then sitting down and entering them into ebird all at once. Most of those sightings end up being an "incomplete checklist" since they aren't entering all the other common birds they saw, just the new year birds. That's how the number of "complete checklists" could be so low. Every ebird checklist requires a date (day, month, and year). So these aren't life lists.

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