Monday, August 15, 2016

There is some wine in California

Central California

This is the end, hold your breath and count to ten, (one two three four...), feel the earth move and then hear my heart burst again, for this is the end.  I've drowned and dreamt this moment, so overdue I owe them, swept away, I'm stolen. Let the sky fall, when it crumbles, I will stand tall, face it all together at skyfall.

I had 8 goals this year

1) be the quickest to ever see 700 in a year (and for that matter see 700) (check)
2) get in shape and lose a pants size (check, Stor (big) Olaf is down to a sweldt 38
3) see more birds than Neil Hayward (sorry Neil)
4) bird naked on nude recreation week (check)
5) meet Debi Shearwater and Ben Basham  (Debi is amazing!) check-check
6) connect with my daughter, the young woman calling herself "L" (check)
7) transition my life into the next phase, (wait out a non-compete, and plan my 2017 activities), (family trips up Emery Peak trail in Big Bend every 4-5 years, race-walking and I'm going to work on my cooking and painting) check
8) My birding goal which I haven't ever written in here, you may think you know but you would be wrong, I'm a sea of disinformation, that phase begins now,
so as the unlike, what the lyrics state in skyfall, maybe this isn't the end
I'm still below budget, had a good profitable week last week at home, got my business commitments in check, back to writing my murder mystery, and...yea AND birding.

So I headed west with the young'n and she was hungry for well, whales, but she would take birds, as stated before, it was just lucky we got there, and we had time to go look for birds on the edge of Half Moon bay

First bird right out of the parking lot was a lower 48 bird, USA bird, and a photographic lifer bird for me, and bird #504 for L
chestnut-backed chickadee, no head but well, you know what it is

We made the departure of Debi's boat, Debi was everything I had dreamt of and more, I'm glad I finally had my chance to meet the seabird guru, and after that the day was sort of frosting.  Christian H was on this boat as he heads wherever he is heading to, somehow I get the idea talking to him he is just trying to show up on Gambell towards the end of the month without a place to stay during high birding season....I think everyone in America will be curious to see how that goes, as most of us would like to show up there without reservations and no money...I wish him luck.

Waiting in the dock, I got the fishing report from Smoothrock lake Ontario, the trip I am usually on, biggest northern pike, 42.5 inches won the trophy, by my boat partner, when I'm with, we call that...and good start.
The blueberries were good and Greg ran his temporary partner into the ground by day three, I'll certainly be welcomed back to guide duty next year.  I will also be taking my daughter pike fishing in June prior to the pike hunting trip, it is a low keyed family trip but when L wants to win the pike jackpot she wants dad to go with pike fishing, and we go real pike fishing.  BTW this is her monster pike from 2015

This is the 8th biggest pike in my boat, ever.  This picture from Olaf Danielson now graces the cover of the camps brochure...and yes my daughter both birds and fishes with me, we also shoot carp together with a bow.  She can handle her end of my boat but I don't let her get too cut up, but real pike fishing always involves a little blood, this is her second plus 20 pound pike and she is only 16.  We hand land every pike, no nets, and doing that takes a little skill without losing an appendage.

Back to Half Moon Bay,

The boat cruised out the jetty and on a rock was a Wandering tattler, a lower 48 bird for me

L yawned remembering all the effort to get one in Alaska, which she could have spent sleeping or something....oh well, who knew?

We cruised around, there was whales and cetacians everywhere, maybe 120 humpbacks,
a few blue and fin whales, tons of pacific white sided dolphin, northern right whale-dolphin (lifer cetacian), harbor porpoises (lifer), minke whales seven for the trip assuming I did not miss anything and well counting Sat and Sunday, Steller's, California sea lions, an elephant seal, harbor seals, it was a marine mammal orgy of activity, north of Bodega Bay, there was 250 fathoms of krill, hence the birds and the mammals...whales almost rubbing the boat

Pacific white sided dolphins

In some cases they were jumping over whales, and having sealions and something called a northern right whale-dolphin jumping over them, it was chaos..but cool chaos!

The birds...we saw great auklet and murrelet action as well as shearwater action but the storm petrels were scarce,  I did see the allusive northern gannet on a cliff from far away, which is a local great bird, I guess and we got a good look at a Wilson's storm-petrel close...some pictures

Scripp's murrelet

Craveri's unphotographed by me as I first heard it was a Scripp's pair and I was pointed the pther way and had just taken the above photo only later to be changed on photo inspection, ...again for me and this bird, maybe someday a photo....

Brown Booby

Sabine's Gulls

I love those wing markings on this bird

Day two of the seabird extravaganza was with the RROC (Redwood Regional Ornothilogical Club..I think) out of Blowdega, I mean Bodega Bay (Debi's name for the place), and yes, It blew, and it was cold and it was foggy, and wavy...and....I had an issue....I developed a weird contact dermatitis of my finger tips, I was thinking from either the steering wheel of the rental or the cover on my camera.  In my life, I once developed a latex allergy to a small degree in surgical residency, and my hands would just peel and burn, and in this case, they are could also be a cleaner for the rental or shampoo, but my hands look and felt like crap...but "This is NOT the end" so despite my bad luck on peleagics and bad hands, the birding must go on or maybe this song had a different meaning?  We'll see later in the blog..

We were very low key on this boat, I booked it under my daughter's name, we were almost anonymous, only one guy recognized me and that was later on...I just wanted to bird and munch on mango chips all day, show my duaghter some cool storm-petrels and since this was s club boat and I wasn't in the club, and they graciously let us on I didn't want to get in anyone's way.

The seasickness rate on the boat was about 40%, we weren't part of it on this boat and it was a more independent affair but I was happy they let us tourists on.  Some locals looked like they would just die, the "head" was getting pretty scary as only one person used the back rail like they were supposed to, but well we got into storm-petrels maybe once in a lifetime storm petrels, so many of the sick ones perked up.

Fork-tailed stormpetrels

My daughter had only seen one this year in a hand, and couldn't count it in Alaska, I'd seen a few a distance on the REPO cruise, so this was great.

Ashy Storm-petrels 
rafts of storm petrels

maybe a thousand of each species total, maybe more.  Many came right up to the boat and all of this with NO chumming, as that is illegal now, someone complained and everyone is trying to get a permit, Debi too

I was trying to get better photos and then with my salt encrusted camera, I used up the battery and my daughter, decided it was nap time, so she took a nap and loaned me her camera, then up flew a shearwater, it was close by and very dark, bigger than a soty. I looked at it as it was close, I couldn't even say the words of what it was, and then said "crap,"  yellow bill, black tip, "flesh foot!!" was shouted,  I snapped a quick set of photos, three hopelessly out of focus and one okay, in maybe 20 seconds, then it was team birding so I ran away from the front of the boat as others came to the front of the boat, had to get the daughter, had to get the daughter, I thought as that IS TEAM BIRDING, I found her in the cabin, she was out cold, like she didn't even remember I poked her hard later.  It was all I could do, she missed it, never woke up, I came out and watched it fly away.....

Flesh-footed shearwater

Bird 753 for the year and a LIFER bird, lifer beer, I chanted.  I could taste it, but was saddened about the daughter's miss, finally, a little luck for me, not for her.

It was an oatmeal stout BTW, oh wait, I'm still on the trip

Then we got into a pod of whales, L woke up for that, it was about as good as whale watching ever ever got.  COOL!!  She took back her camera and was off to the edge as happy as a whale lister would ever be, the shutter straining under the constant pushing.....

L's total for the trip, despite the big miss, plus 11, 514 for the year. WOW!
Best bird for the trip, she states, the many in-close black-footed albatrosses
Handsome birds...
Yea, they were mega cool, I agree!

It is back to school for her in a week, yea, maybe Adele's song lyrics from above are for her not me, a majority of our birding together is over so "maybe this IS the end."  It is the end of an era, as I can't bird with her until October, maybe not the whole year, that is very sad for me, we have bonded in a whole new way, a way I could have never guessed, she is SUCH a good kid, it is almost bringing a tear to my eye right here.  OKAY IT IS BRINGING A TEAR TO MY EYE.  I will throw her on a plane to home, little Miss Independent, I watched her 777 being pushed out of the plane  and started crying, my plane to LAX was 15 minutes later.  I am crying typing this.  I love my kids, and they like me!  We texted the whole time she was able before the plane backed off, she as unhappy some old guy got my seat next to hers, and well, she signed off, and that was ...that.... onward I must go.

It wasn't an earthquake:

 feel the earth move and then hear my heart burst again, for this is the end
It was me being sad, I miss her already

Sad on the west coast

Big Year Total:  753
Coded Birds:  82
provisionals: 1

Miles driven.  35,102
Flight Miles 134, 600
speeding tickets: 1
flight segments: 136   Different Airports: 47
(is the flight over Monterrey a segment or two or none?)
Hours at sea: 225
Miles walked 279
showshoes 4 (isn't going to be any more)
Miles biked 12
states/ prov. birded: 35
Lifers seen this year:  62
nights slept in car:  12
slept in airplane:  5
cost of trip
pelagics 330
flight 460
car 235
hotels, 510
food, 85

total  $1620

PS thank you Debi and the RROC again!


  1. Nice one! An excellent trip for both of you.
    Your daughter will get the Flesh Footed someday to top up the 11 she got on this pelagic. But she already has the memories.
    Now on to fall birding...

  2. Naps are always more important that birds when you are cool the relationship you have with your kids...makin the rest of us look like amateurs...good look on your chase

    1. I have a list of short comings as a father a mile long

  3. Great blog, lucky to have kids - glass half full!? Keep birding hard Olaf til Dec 31st, 110%!....

  4. Very nice blog post, Olaf! Great to meet you and I think it is wonderful that she is doing portions of the Big Year with you! She is one hardy young lady. All the best, Debi Shearwater

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thx that was great. The whale watching almost beyond description. Maybe next time for some of the seabirds I'm missing.



This is not a bird trip organized for sissies.  Seeing the King aside, this almost seems like work.  The typical day is up at 0530, load up ...