Big Year Days 115-116
Let me just say....I just am a ping pong ball, getting slapped around at both ends of the table. But that may not be just me...I don't know. There is no I in Olaf, but there is a whole lot of o, as in Oh no, oh my, and the big one, Oh my God.....
Coded Birds: 46
Miles driven. 24850
showshoes 4 (isn't going to be any more)
other animals seen: gray whale, dolphin, bobcat, ringtailed cat, elk, bighorn, jackalope, feral pig, California sea lion, harbor seal, bedbugs
FIRST A few comments from my last blog, one, thanks for the ID support on that Philly vireo, yea, I scrapped that right after I put the blog out there, it was a bad ID day, I also am pretty sure I missed a solitary sandpiper that day too thinking about it, I saw a sandpiper with an orange bill and got distracted, yea what has an orange bill? Really? I showed a couple of birders and then got the digiscope stuff out of my pocket and it went into the weeds, a USO, unindentified sandpiper object, but I just forgot about that sandpiper next to it and too late now, and the un-vireo ...I marked it as a orange crowned warbler, so no worries, life isn't so easy all the time. I didn't count it,
SECOND Some of you have confronted me on the Bed Bugs
1) YES, they were bed bugs, not chiggers, why?
I have bites below the sock line and in lines like above the knee, a little higher up the leg, higher still, and a forth in what Mike Myers calls the mommy daddy region, I have a bite on my 4th knuckle right hand, and on my foot, all non-chigger locations, beside a bit on my bum, back, etc. Also, I hiked all day with Jim T, he was wearing shorts, I had on snake boots with pants tucked in in chigger precaution, he got NO chiggers, and no bites, as we had separate rooms, his was apparently not infested. If chiggers, he should have had some too. In my humble medical opinion and well, I do own an MD degree, BTW. University on Minnesota Medical School Class of 1992 etc......bed bugs. I AM an idiot 99.9% of the time, escpecially camera issues and maybe birding issues, too...but no, these were bed bugs.
2) I stayed at Texas Inn in Weslaco, TX (I thought I was clear). I noticed the bites that morning and then badly the next day heading north. I cannot blame the Motel 6 then in Kingsville. I think Texas Inn it was north of I-2 on Hwy 88, BUT I may have location wrong, there are a few of them. I was tired and wasn't paying attention, I have eaten at the restaurant across the street before and that was coming down from Hargill Playa so I assume it was on Tx-88. DON'T STAY THERE!
THIRD Largely this blog is meant to entertain. It is somewhat to document the year but unless I get 750 who really cares and even if I do, I can't document enough. I doubt I'll write a book on the year. So some of this is to help me remember. I'm sorry, I am whom I am. I don't have an agenda, other than a now 50 year old guy who is retired...yes, I'll say it. What I'm getting out of this year is the kindness of strangers....some cool birds and well something to do.
FOURTH. Apparently I have earned a disclaimer on the ABA site about my blog. Oh well. Maybe that is a badge of honor? If you read "Boobies Peckers, ..." I won't say it, and most of you haven't, my last adventure would have gotten a big red X. I did move the blog around around today but it wasn't because of that. I guess if you can't handle a rather tame Anders Zorn Painting on the cover from....1916 "Vatn" (He is THE master artist of Sweden) which is privately owned (sold for 1.2 million about 10 years ago), you have larger issues. It is a museum piece....
Let me just summarize what happened yesterday. I broke a record. I may even send it to the record people. I not only had one Jet bridge failure, not two but three.....my plane out of San Antonio was two hours late as....they couldn't get the bridge to work when they had to come back in for some one to sign off on the plane's safety, and that was after they swapped planes with the Minneapolis plane. When we got to Salt Lake, they ran over the power cable to the bridge or the bridge did, you could see it, they had to push it off, tighten up the cable and then reattach, but late already, it didn't matter. At Sacramento, it just didn't work, and they had to find stairs, remember those? Well they did eventually, the captain was saying we might have to use the emergency chutes, but he was kidding, I was in the front and it was just something to do while we waited for an hour. Older people panicked at using the stairs, it was a circus. Many took pictures, like somehow using the stairs to board a plane is something camera worthy....fly Alaska to Adak folks....it is OUTSIDE! I vowed not to post a picture here.
Okay, I was supposed to be in Sacramento by 0930, I got here by 130, but no matter, the Marsh sandpiper didn't get here at all yesterday. It had already departed for points unknown........
Already giving up at 230 PM I drove hard for the back-up bird, at the eastern terminus of the San Francisco Bay near Santa Clara, 100 miles away. There problems arose, like it was windy, not just a little, but somewhere between a tempest and a zephyr. 40 mph...more? It was blowing peeps all over the place and worse, I met a helpful local guy who said, nobody had seen the stint after the tide had come in. I worked my way down the the dike as sea form flew into me. A guy said there was a phalarope out there and I put down my scope, a gust hit my front lens cap as I was taking it off and it sailed out into the water, more lost and damaged equipment. It was a red-necked phalarope and I needed it.
I worked down to the hardiest of the birders as the rest were packing it in as the wind came up more and more...they were hunkered down and as I walked in I heard one say, "got it!" I didn't have anything but Westerns. I looked their way, I still didn't have it, then they struggled over and showed us, nice people these Californians and oddly, one knew me through Darlene Moore, the woman who took me in during the busted goose stakeout in Connecticut. Thanks again Darlene. You are the gift that keeps on giving. Everyone is so nice.
So then I high-tailed it (one of my favorite Wisconsin slang terms) back to Davis, where it turns out all the hotels were full. Except, the woman at Quality Inn snickered, Motel 6. She wouldn;t expand on that. I went to Motel 6, they had a room, and well I was blunt. "Do you have bed bugs?" I asked..."no!" She said. "Then why do you have the only rooms available in town?" She shrugged. I smiled "no murders, drug labs, dead bodies..." I couldn't think of anything more..."no" she said. I checked in. Do you want to know why it was empty? I'll get to that.
Summary of the day...
April 24, 2015
Alviso Marina Park, Santa Clara Cty California
#607 Red-necked phalarope (I took this photo though on 4/25 at Yolo Bypass)
It made me drink the beer....why me? Is it the beard? Is it my opinionated persona? Is it the nudity on my book cover jackets? Maybe it is.
Okay, the Motel 6, was evacuated as was the entire block just before and the Motel 6 woman did NOT lie to me......a guy in a room that was next to mine, had pipe bombs, not look alike pipe bombs but real, ready to blow up pipe bombs and nobody knew why at the restaurant. I don't know if they arrested the guy. I am afraid to read the article. Here is the link if you think I'm BSing you.
I can't make this stuff up. I think he was in room 208, I was in 206. I thought about razzing the woman at check in but I was too tired and where else was I to go? There were NO rooms. You wonder why I get bedbugs...I need to think about camping now that it is warm, but I've had fire ants camping.....thanks again to Darlene Moore for sparing one night of potential crap at a hotel for me. This woman is an angel.
The winds pounded Yolo Bypass all morning and I did get a year bird, maybe the fastest Vaux's swift fly-by ever, down wind and he or she was booking east. Whoosh! I almost didn't register the sighting in my brain.
#609 Vaux's swift
I couldn't have kept a camera on it if I tried. I had seen one the night before over I-605, but I had no idea where I was and I wasn't going to text or log the bird in 80 mph "all hands traffic," so I'll count this one,
I did photograph some birds I hadn't yet in 2016,
western kingbird, counted in Texas.
Cinnamon teal, counted like in January.
That is about it, except for a passing thought. When I drive around California, I think of how wonderful this place was in the 60s and 70s, at least for a non-ethnic person like me. There were riots in Watts, I guess. I feel bad I missed the rest of the boom in California (not the riots). I had written my opinions below about what I have seen this year, the politics, the questions we the Americans aren't asking our leaders, or maybe they are too hard so we just try to change something, but I just deleted it, ........there....all you guys want is birds...I guess. I'm sorry. I monologued in my 2013 adventure BPT occasionally but this is better.
I'm tired. I need to get home.
FWIW, I got three birds, I guess, but as I boarded my plane back to Key West today, the Cuban vireo is absent and I have come to the realization that the big year is finished in terms of any records in all likelihood, 750 is a tall order and one can't make any errors. It is lonely birding alone for stretches and by going to Texas and meeting a friend flying in, (how could I ask him to eat a plane ticket?), I had cost myself 3 birds, at least two anyhow. The stint I will probably see again in St Paul in August, so not much of a reward. I appreciated a friend from Duluth, JG encouraging me today. Many people are happy I did what I did, that is okay, I am happy every time I see the White Sox or the Pats lose. I'll keep plugging, I have to go to the Keys anyhow for the nighthawk and the roseate tern, maybe I'll get lucky with a good fallout in the morning. You know, only a couple of handfuls of people have seen 700 birds in a year. I will, too, unless I like, get injured.
Critical Birds I still need (five most worrisome non-Alaskan).
1) Gray Vireo
2) Yellow Rail
3) Saltmarsh sparrow
4) Dusky Grouse
5) Manx Shearwater
Any intel or help in getting any of these is much appreciated, some other birds are tougher but I have leads on them.