The Movie Monte Python, first told the story of a terrible beast, a mythical beast, killed with a holy handgranade but....there could not just be one......then the story continued....really....
It was 1979. and despite the best efforts of the US Secret Service...President Jimmy Carter while fishing on a small farm pond in Georgia was charged by a swamp rabbit and as the rabbit tried to board the President's boat a small skirmish occurred and the beast was repelled with a boat oar, so continues the legend of the Killer Rabbit. It was thought that the Welsh left King Arthur in search of new land but in reality, they were just taking the Killer Attack Rabbits to a new land....what became America.
It was said by some that the rabbit and it's kin were moved by the US Government to a place where no one would be bothered by these foul ill-tempered creatures ever again....until.........Olaf showed up......
Big Year Total: 693
Coded Birds: 60
number to go to old record: 57
showshoes 4 (isn't going to be any more)
Lifers seen this year: 47
nights slept in car: 9
Yes, really? killer Rabbit?....but more on the appearance of "Killer" later....
A sojourn first into Olaf:
Many of you ask questions....
How much are you spending?
It is rumored that Komito spend 80-100K on his 1998 year.
I'm thinking I'll spend 45K, plus a boat load of fflier miles. Way WAY below other birders....efficiency....and fflier miles.....this doesn't count my car damage from sons or broken camera.
I will add a new category: Costs for trip
Arizona, May 24-28
flight RDU to PHX $174 (cheapest flight I've seen in a while)
Rental car $210
Hotels....$625 (family of three for three nights, two for one, full cost..note should have been $80 camping)
share guide fee $80
feeder fees for me $10. (have National access pass)
$3 donation to museum in Willcox
lifer beer $5
added stuff. Lost waterbottle $25, broken speaker cord $18, car is NOT in parking at home airport, postage to send home wife's stuff in Portal,
My favorite books?
Ursula LaGuin The Dispossessed -fiction
Barry Lopez-- Of Wolves and men
Both were the most influential books in my literary and personal development, One was a textbook for a college course.
Where am I from?
I grew up on the family sawmill in rural NW Wisconsin, Falun a Swedish immigrant community. I trapped pocket gophers and worked on the mill in my youth. He stressed in me the advantages to knowing how to live off the land. I have only worked for another person in my life for 5 years in residency. Grandpa Allwin Danielson taught me to be a deer tracker. I taught myself to be a proficient pike fisherman. Grandma Danielson taught me to hunt and clean squirrels.
My grandfather never advocated for the fairness of life outside of our little domain, in fact, he stressed the opposite....you need to make sure you are comfortable in what and who you are because no one else will acknowledge it.
When is the book coming out on this year?
Been there done that...I don't think I will write anything more than this for this year. Books are dead. I wish Hayward the utmost success with his, but again, been there done that. Boobies Peckers and Tits, poured out my innermost fears and thoughts and there have been too many big year books. Partners one of the biggest distributors of books...Out of business this month...private books stores,,,,dead, dying...Amazon...pays you nothing and gives you headaches. I write fiction so my kids can appreciate my versions of Utopia and what fears and thoughts I have in my head....if any break even, I'd be shocked. No one cares...no one reads,...especially, to be brutally honest...no one cares what i think or write, I am from the part of the USA, that is ignored by those on the coasts....for a Midwestern author to get published from a big house...get real.
why big year?
I'll explain more on that next segment, it is complicated.......time to talk about the birding
May 24/25th brought me and my family to Madera, they arrived 8 hours after I did.
The birds kept coming
679. Varied Bunting (could not get a photo at Santa Rita feeders)
680. Cordillian Flycatcher
I went out with a Dr Ammann I met and we got his lifer whipoorwill, a nice guy from Vancouver BC.
681. Mexican Whippoorwill
682. Whiskered screech owl
683. Red faced warbler
684. Plain capped starthroat
Dig the red-faced warbler.....one of my favorites
The starthroat I had staked out for 5 hours before just before 11am on the 25th, it appeared without warning, and drank a bit, as I grabbed for my camera, it was gone. I had neither time to shout there it is or anything before it was gone. The woman in front of me started chanting lifer bird...lifer bird...the two of us were the only two paying enough attention to get the 20 second cameo view of the bird. It wasn't a lifer for me and I have a huge blow up of the 2013 bird on my wall.
Eventually my wife who had taken Lena back for a nap to Chaparusa Bed and Breakfast (I'd camp if I was by myself) found me walking home....she had forgotten about picking me up.
I met up with Thor, his friend Dan, and Laurens Halsey in Green Valley, a place where Thor had just bought into to. I was too young to live there, 50 is the new 20 or something IDK. LOL. I got a local expert Halsey to show the way to the California Gulch as I hate it down there....long, scary, and windy road. I had my 16 yo with...Silja went over to visit Joan, Thor's wife.
But it does have one good sign.
We got there and staked out the night and found
685. Five striped sparrow
686. Buff Collared nightjar
Clear as mud...right? You can see her collar, it was a female. I had heard her song on proctor road in 2013, just didn't know I had, oh well to late now to add one to my BPT list....
May 26th soon became the number two birding day of the year. I got my crew out of bed and we hit the road at 645 and drove the Box canyon road over to Sierra Vista. I was relieved upon arriving late at Ramsey Canyon but finding there still was parking at 0815. No fights today in the parking lot. We hiked the trail, and it wasn't a trail of tears or anything. Just up but either I was in better shape or maybe I given the trail too much credence OR even the flycatcher had moved a lot down but it was an easy hike.
The tufter just appeared in the dry creek bed, and there it was in all of its code 5 glory.
687. Tufted Flycatcher
Walking back, a helpful birder pointed out bird #688.
We also saw a cool raven nest
I got bird #689. Virginia warbler in the oak scrub, and well we got back to the car by noon.
We went over to Beatty's for lunch (we brought it) to watch hummers and a blue thorated came in bird #690, but I missed the photo op as it was too close. Here is a photo from the 27th at Cave Creek Ranch in Portal to document...
Then it was off to Patagonia. We had a plan, find laundromat, put in load....go find thick-billed kingbird, come back, switch to dry, go to Patton's IDK, because my daughter noticed she needed a brown headed cowbird (really?) and then back.
Phase one, Laundromat
they had one, next to the police station with itself was just a trailer
24 minutes later, #691 nabbed, Thick-billed Kingbird
It was at Patton's when I got scowled at by the attack rabbit....
We arrived just as the drier had stopped spinning 32 minutes later packed and headed back to Madera...plan foolproof, my clothing didn't reek of me anymore...
We ate and then thinking.....seeing a white buffalo was supposed to be magical....I saw a white buck playing golf one fall at Luck Country Club and well I had a "Lucky" round and then the white rabbit...?
I said let us go owling! The ladies agreed....wow! What a crew.
We hiked into an undisclosed place in Madera and nearing dusk heard the whiskered screech owls everywhere. Mexican whip-poor-wills were singing and I said to LE and Sil that Flamulated owls sound more like owls. I had only one call of theirs on my iphone and I played it once to show them. Immediately, I saw the flutter of a something land on a dead tree in front of us. I shined my light thinking it was a bat.....FLAM OWL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I was beside myself saying..."There it is, there it is!" Maybe like 20 times thinking the two ladies wouldn't notice the little owl 15 feet away. I was in disbelief Wow! Wow again, wow a third time. I didn't bring a camera. Who knew? I thought there was like 10% chance we'd even hear one.
"Try the screech owl song once" Lena said as the Flam owl went away. I did. In came another bird, same branch. Whiskered screech owl. Lena was ready with the iphone, she got an owl photo with an iPhone....?
#692....what a day, what a day...thank you rabbit. The attack rabbit portends good things...unless your name is Jimmy Carter
I got 6 birds during Boobies Peckers and Tits at this same spot, and now 6 lifers here, all within 10 feet. I like this spot. I love this spot....cool!!!
I drove out of Madera nearing 4am as we cruised through to the Tucson airport, and dropped my best friend, Silja off for her flight to Atlanta and then Dusseldorf. It was great reconnecting, and now she had her adventure and we had ours, Lena and I had one more bird to find for my list and she had all kinds of stuff.
Willcox gave up a Bullock's oriole for LE and then 20 miles south, I stopped at the side of the road and her year bird #400, Scaled quail darted around the road.
I hadn't got a photograph of any this year either so it was a good stop as it is pretty certain a guy or gal needs to document everybird they can.
It was a happy car as we rolled up the Pinery Canyon Road, directions were to go exactly 10 miles...and about mile 8.2 from the black top, we came across a birder in California plates, he was looking for the redstart he said, I said "I think the spot is farther up." I scratched my head and drove on. Then well before 10, we saw birders. This looked like the real deal. We stopped. It was the stakeout. They had seen it twice, about an hour ago, and it was just 7 am. We didn't have to wait long. It flew out across the road in minutes, then lost it showed back up in the pine tress, spotted by my eagle-eyed daughter., then off it flew. 30 minutes later it came in again, easily noted for its lack of white on wings, and then it flitted from tree to tree, finally...I took a shot with the camera
It could be the worst identifiable photo ever, but it was, and it was a life bird....and bird #693.....it was over.....I had conquered Arizona. I had conquered warblers, I now had them ALL!! every warbler seen in the lower 48 this year, every one...........cool!
How many is that? Go count, my friends, go count.
I ran into friendly birders to ladies from Ft Worth Texas, who had spent a period of time at St Paul with Neil. The California guy came and thanked me for redirecting him and then I gave him tufted flycatcher directions.
It was 8am, we were half way from Portal to nowhere, I needed to mail stuff home, and well I had promised number 1 daughter lunch...well breakfast....AND she needed the Mexican chickadee and I wanted to photograph that and blue throated hummingbirds.
The Mexican chickadee proved difficult. It took us until after our tour in Portal and an hour eating and then another hour watching the blue throated hummers at Cave Creek Ranch, then 15 minutes to the post office, and ten minutes going into New Mexico, daughter had never been and well, there isn't a sign......, but the view driving back was cool. I like the Chiricahua Mountain Island.
Even spied many javelina in Cave Creek area.
Some birds I have seen before but now photographed: As I guess you might not have believed me
Off to Alaska, I suspect, to get the jeers or better put the indifference, I deserve, not sure I will even mention it on the Puk-uk when I break 700 on May 30th, not that it matters, 150 days is good, a record but really? This is just birding....but thank you for following along with my adventure.
I will say though, it is so cool when people recognize me around. It has given me hope in the kindness of people. I had lost that in business and in the ER. In business most people are heartless and ruthless, and in the ER.....it is the views of the American underbelly that I usually see and that is why I don't want to do medicine any more. It is not puppies and kittens out there.
Christian Hagenlocher is doing a big year because he is worried that he has little time left to see many of the birds before they are gone. This made me smile....but thinking about it, he may be on to something. Many of the places I saw in 2013 are already changed..and not for the better. The Thrasher spot will eventually become hay pasture, as no one will buy it and save it for the birds. Much of the wilds is being destroyed and all the while as we waste everything....just my carbon footprint, I am laying crusing around seems bad and mine is less than some.....but again, if many of these wild places are closed off to human intrusion no one will even care.....IDK, I hope they never change Madera, but shockingly, you can't camp at Rustler Park on top of the mountain in Portal any more. Not enough staffing.....very sad.
Well maybe I have been putting in on too thick...? I saw this a few days ago..
Well to Alaska we go,
14 days with my number one daughter, and that my friends is PRICELESS!