It is clear, I must be a dumbass, I'll be crass and say it upfront....
I was in Gambell and Nome this past week and on Sunday, I found my shoes all soaked and covered in tundra mud. Now you might not think this is odd, but these are just Keen hikers, they are not waterproof I wore them to Gambell, took them off and put on my trademark snake boots, but on Sunday I found someone had been wearing them.
I am so stupid, I cannot figure out who?
At first I thought it was possibly one of the three bears but there are no bears in Gambell.
Our wonderful guide Aaron Lang, found a boot drier for me but that sort of helped but the inside of the three week old pair was basically trashed. Aaron wears size 14 like me but only wears his Wellington boots and besides, the person who wore mine, cinched down the laces hard, so therefore has a size smaller feet.
In the morning I hoped the culprit would fess up and offer me a new pair or a cash payment like I would hope my wonderful daughter Lauren Elizabeth would have. "Dad if it was me, I would just buy you a new pair of shoes and apologize." but alas no....
Maybe it was Hooey the Green Parrot or a Gooney bird....they have big feet
I'm reminded of a little ditty from Dr Seuss, well I changed it to protect for copyright
Oh Say Can You Say
Said a book-reading parrot named Gooney,
The shoes on your feet are all gooey.
When you wear them, your feet
will make slips into a seat
and you may end up in Saint Looey!
Alaska Strategy Part 2 Gambell-Nome
Big Year Total: 730
Coded Birds: 73
number to go to old record: 20
showshoes 4 (isn't going to be any more)
Lifers seen this year: 55
nights slept in car: 9
mysterious shoe incident: 1
lost items, speaker, scope cap
You have to stop off in Gambell for a spring visit to get common ringed plover and maybe, just maybe something else to do a big year.
It isn't cheap to get here, as you have to plan ahead or use a tour group as lodging is NOT easy. Gambell is on the edge, so near to Siberia, you can see it.
The town is a traditional native village, on the sea, located by a lake, it is dusty when the weather in't truly horrible.
Then after a tough tiring slog in the hills, the tundra, or a long and very cold seawatch, you hear local birding legend Paul Lehman yell "Chiffchaff!!" on the radio and everybody runs for the location, and in my case, you didn't even hear the location
but we all found the MEGA bird.....common chiffchaff
The crew of Wilderness was awesome, Aaron, James, and Norm were great but a second problem arose that confirmed I am a dumba$$. I forgot to read the memo. We stayed in a house, and we forgot to bring sleeping bags. So to sleep we piled out coats and clothing over us. There is severe weight restrictions and as such I just assumed....back in 1997 at a moose hunt, I also assumed..........wrongly that bedding was included. I have now done this twice, that time I just about froze, this time, we tolerated it.
Lena took to Gambell like a real pro...she is such a likeable kid, she rode bike, hiked the hills and found birds.
here is father and daughter for one last look at Gambell
Nome was more of the same, we took a while to find our car, or hotel, (we were in the Dredge 7 annex, where was that? Other side of town.)
It took us a little over a day to get all the local birds need and then with one on the next day, we got lucky, we stumbled into some Brits with a great knot sighting and pictures, we drove like manics to the spot, it took a little over a day and it exhausted Lauren Elizabeth but I found them on a gravel bar out in the sound, well at least 2 of them, and in the process of nearly freezing in the wind and cold, got a Terek Sandpiper. I finally find the knots without there heads tucked and then it is way out in the sound. I made a decision..should I get closer for a better photo (it still wouldn't be very good and the Brits had perfect photos) or do I drive to the bridge and get friends to come and see birds?...I had a pretty good scope view, there was no doubt what birds I was seeing, there were 2 great knots....birding IS sharing............I drove hard to the bridge got them and got back in five minutes.....knots...gone. dang...we looked the rest of the day....I even told the guides of the competition where I saw them...because birding IS SHARING...fault me for not getting a good photo of them but well...I sorely wished my friends would have gotten the bird...sorry Don H and Nancy. I was too slow.
.the sun came out giving me a good photo of a long tailed jaeger which I think was responsible for putting the birds to flight
The days were long and in the end, we got it all. We ate dinners which tired me out and in the morning we were at it again. Even writing this blog is tiring me out. I'm not as witty and I have been gone for oh so long...I need the hug of a good woman. Mine is the best.
The list of birds:
711. eye-browed thrush
712. common ringed plover
713. common greenshank
714. red-necked stint
715. white wagtail
716. King eider
717. Common chiffchaff (Siberian)
718. eastern yellow wagtail
Nome June 6-8
719. Long-tailed jaeger
720. Spectacled eider
721. Arctic loon
722. Arctic warbler
723. Bristle thighed curlew
725. Northern wheatear
726. Bar-tailed godwit
727. Pacific golden plover
728. wandering tattler
729. Terek sandpiper
730. Great knot
Least auklet on rock
common green shank