Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Portlandia 2.0

Portlandia is this crazy show starring Fred Armison that exaggerates the oddness that Portland Oregon has become.  Truth, though is stranger than fiction, it seems, as Portland lives up to its reputation.  It seems like everyone has been smoking bad weeds or something.  I've seen the town have a mass funeral for bees, went to a restaurant with the names of the chickens that provided you their eggs, (not only was in on the menu, you were reminded of the name when it came--I've chosen to eat as little as possible in the city since) and well, this year, the radio was in an argument of whether to call, prisoners "Offenders" or not, no one disagreed.  They think that word insults the "offenders" families and their self-esteem.  It hurts their feelings.  "But they are prisoners....?"  I shouted at the radio, then I learned this was not in Portland, IT WAS WASHINGTON.  The idiocy is spreading.  The name did get banned from usage.

I lived in Portland for 6 months doing a head and neck surgery rotation back in 1991, living at my brother-in-laws, Sigh...Portland, it just gets weirder and wieirder.  I came here to see a bird, but before that....   

I spent this last weekend up in northwestern Wisconsin visiting my family with my wife and daughter.  My mother heads to Sweden shortly for her pre-Christmas shopping bonanza, and so Thanksgiving has become a non-event for them and us.  It is deer season anyhow.  My step-father’s and sister’s birthdays are both on the 15th of November and so it was a time to gather while we still could.

One of the annual events is to put out grandmother Lucille’s deer stand, yes, she is on her way to being 92 and she still goes hunting deer.

Way to go Lucille, that is her on the 4 wheeler.

I also hiked in the woods in an attempt to get my birding daughter a ruffed grouse for the year, that was not too successful a project due to two reasons.  She really didn’t want to get in the middle of the pricklies to get one out and had on yoga pants, two, our dog had previously got in the woods and just gotten so muddy, we decided not to let her off the leash.   Well, none were easily flushed in their normal haunts, so at least we tried.  I didn't need the bird so I guess it was just a nice walk in the woods. 

The Danielson family land with our island in the background....on Big Wood Lake

I took Silja to one of the best mature white birch stands I knew of so she could scout the potential for material for future birch bark projects, here she is eyeing some up about 100 yards above where I had a deer stand myself for 20 years.

 I haven’t hunted but one year since the Chronic wasting disease  outbreak a decade or so ago, I have just lost interest.  In all likely hood my Norse ancestors practiced cannibalism giving me immunity to the scary prion disease but like I said, I just lost interest.

We played 500 and then my wife and daughter decided to drive to Duluth, they wanted to see the zoo.  

The polar bear seemed to interest my daughter, for me the real deal was enough in Barrow so I took my bird dog and drove back towards home, but all they got to was the aquarium.  It was early afternoon somewhere about equidistant from Minneapolis and Fargo when word came out that another common scoter was seen or at least a possible one was located SW of Portland Oregon, I say another...  

The common scoter, a bird to be honest, before the one appeared in Crescent City, California a couple years back, I had never heard of.  Not being in an area that sees large numbers of scoters routinely, I hadn’t given the split of the Black scoter into the common and the black scoter much mind.  When this bird appeared up in northern California I looked at the reports and shrugged, it was probably one of my worst moments in bird chasing.  Not only did I not come up or out, or over, whatever, and get the scoter, I also skipped the falcated duck and a tundra bean goose as well, all with in a getable trek.  Three birds, that have not really been getable since then and still all absent from my life list.  It was not my finest hour. The timing wasn’t real good and well, northern California and southern Oregon were a commitment as it wasn’t easy to get there from my house tucked in the prairies of eastern South Dakota.

Like last time, the timing could not have been worse.  I had a dog in the car, my wife was 120 miles from me in the wrong direction, and it appeared all the late flights west from Minneapolis were full,  Portland is a tough destination that way, so I did what I had to do, go home and drop off the dog and plan on heading west in the morning.

United out of Sioux Falls was good to me and except for heavy rain and traffic, I got to the coast by a little after noon, and a birder was already set up.  She let me look in her scope and bingo, bird #771 +1 for the year was logged, common scoter.  It was that easy, I let a guy look in my scope for the bird who was just on vacation and didn't know it was here, and well, after a while, wet, I drove off. 

I tried for some pictures but the bird was in good scoping distance, but not good photo distance and it was dark, rainy and well, these are the best I could do.

I got a good look at the bill though, that was not a black scoter....lifer bird, so things were looking up.

I drove south a few miles and at a seawatch location I nabbed a marbled murrelet, a USA/ lower 48, lifer bird for me and then headed back to Portland.

I ended up in McMinnville at the Naked Winery, and ended up buying Cougar wine (they have very suggestive names at this winery), having a case sent home, I also needed a new water bottle and worked on a little cross promotional situation with their new Outdoor Vino, so look forward to more "Naked Birder" pictures with Naked Wine in interesting locations....

 "I don't usually drink wine after a successful bird chase, but when I do, I drink Outdoor Vino Rambling Red, and I drink it naked."
                                                              Olaf Danielson, 
                                                              The Nude Birder, 
                                                               he could be the most interesting man in the world

Remember, drink responsibly!

Shameless promotion over, I hung out with Bill, my wife's brother and Nina his wife, who took this wandering stray with a bottle of wine in his hand in, and well, predawn, I was searching for a gas station (tough in Portland as you can't pump your own gas....and was off on a new adventure...

Big Year Total:  771 (plus 1)

Coded Birds:  98
United snack waffles- 8
provisionals: 1

Miles driven.  41, 909
Flight Miles 210, 500
miles on ATV 475
speeding tickets: 1
flight segments: 200   Different Airports: 63
Near bear/ death experiences 2
Hours at sea: 284
Miles walked 505
showshoes 4 (isn't going to be any more)
Miles biked 12

states/ prov. birded: 36
Lifers seen this year:  72 (+1)
nights slept in car:  12
slept in airplane:  11



  1. Hello Olaf, Have enjoyed your crazy Big Year adventures via your blog! Wondering if you are booking speaking engagements yet? I'm executive director/founder of Friends of Sax-Zim Bog and we are having a late January/early February "Boreal Wings Gala" either in Duluth or Mpls. Contact me soon if interested. Let me know your fee, etc. Thanks! Sparky sparky@saxzim.org 218.341.3350

  2. Way to go with another lifer!


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