Friday, November 11, 2016

Vote early and vote often... at least Vote

Well I'm still trying to figure out this election.  On election Tuesday, I drove around Monroe County Florida, and started harassing many of the street corner and voting station election people holding signs.  No this wasn't about Hill or Trump, this was about approving the use of genetically modified mosquitoes to try to control the population and decrease the occurrence of Zika virus causing so many terrible birth defects.  I had seen enough of these misguided pro-environment types...and I'm not sure really what they are, to be honest, maybe just scared.  I yelled at a woman holding a sign to vote "no" on genetically modified male mosquitoes.  "Baby killer!" I shouted out the window thinking I was stealing a line the anti pro-choice protests from a decade ago that has seen said to pro-choice people. Saying it made me cringe a bit, but these people ARE pro-hurting babies...they are!...or at least pro pesticide, as what else can be used to control Aedes mosquitoes?  Are they shills of Monsanto?

The answer from this "pleasant" political discord?  I got the 'finger' from two, I got swore at from a person holding a Jill Stein sign and honked from the person behind me on the Overseas Highway...I moved on before it got out of ends my politicking for the 2016 election, but I had already voted.  

I spent election 2016 in my south Florida apartment, watching the returns, watching Cokie Roberts cry, drinking wine, eating pasta, sampling goat cheese, and eating Cuban bread...the good life, I guess.

It was not quite as interesting at my 1984 vigil with a bunch of drunk Dems who were doing shots every time Mondale lost a state, I think they passed out somewhere between Georgia and Alabama....THAT was a rough night and not a single person in that hall, of 50 college Dems could believe that Mondale lost, not a person knew anyone that had voted for Reagan....I never admitted I voted for Reagan, although I had voted for a Dem senator in Wisconsin...that was my first Presidential vote....four years later I found myself working on the Jesse Jackson campaign, and then I worked as a staffer for a State Assembly candidate....I have spent some time in the election trenches in Wisconsin, and it came as NO surprise to me when the upper Midwest swung the election...I have seen the seething anger birding this year and the bi-coastal far left doesn't get those Mondale zealots, I just hope that someday they actually hang out with us deplorables and understand why we are not New Yorkers or Left-coasters and why some Dem counties swung 25 points or more from Obama to Hillary.  There is a heavy Democratic Congressional district in Minnesota that elected a Dem congressman by 6% and not a single county, none, of say 30 counties went for Hillary, two counties moved more than 35% from Obama to will be an interesting 4 years...

Well, like I said, I was maintaining my vigil in south Florida, waiting on the wind to settle down so I could continue my quest to look for "un-ticked" seabirds this year.

On Sunday walking around Key West, who do I see but Paul, my old golfing buddy, small world...

We went out for drinks and food at Alonzo's.  I've known Paul since 1995, we've been all over together, Grenada, St Thomas, St, Kitts, St Martin, Vancouver, Canadian, Oklahoma, Sarasota, Hawaii, shoot, we've had some crazy memories together, grizzly bears on t-boxes in British Columbia to Alligators in Mexico, the weirdest trip was me disqualifying two state troopers in a golf tournament in Oklahoma for cheating and us speeding down back roads to the Arkansas border with the police hot on our tails....crud, I've sold him two cars, and he has helped us move into or out of multiple properties....he and my grandmother Lucille even have a history, some good, some bad, and some just weird....there is only one Paul in this world. It was a good visit, I haven't seen Paul this year, it was a nice surprise.

On Monday, probably without any sense at all, maybe it was thinking of the craziness of my adventures with Paul.  I ventured out into the Gulf of Mexico in search of my missing booby and maybe a tropicbird....the wind had NOT settled down, I the captain was willing so away we went

Let me say this, it was nuts, bordering insanity that I did this.  I've been on less scary thrill rides on Busch Gardens, drier ones too.  The captain took me out and things started okay, we poked around some keys where I saw many abandoned Cuban refugee boats.

they were all was kind of surreal....apparently sponge fishermen pick them up and ferry them to Key West...interestingly, I learned, many of them realize that the US isn't the nirvana many of them expect, and quite a few end up back in Havana.  That is just anecdotal information I learned, FWIW.

I found a photogenic perched Magnificent Frigatebird

I spotted a rather odd swallow flying between mangroves 30 miles out from Key West.  My first impression was that it was a flycatcher, but clearly that ID changed, it seemed big and didn't look like a northern roughwinged swallow

There has been rumors of a brown-chested martin around the keys this fall but nothing concrete, and well, I have like zero experience with that bird and besides this pic I have only out of focus pictures of this bird, showing a forked tail, but not deeply forked.  I feel like I'm repeating myself down here with bad swallow sightings, but I'm not calling this bird anything, but would appreciate any pointers.  I ran into a local birder named Goodrich later, who found the Cuban vireo, we had met that day, briefly.  We talked swallows down here, and the difficulty in getting photo proof but he suspects this bird, Bahamas, and at least Southern roughwings (which he has seen, but not approved by Florida nor the ABA) are not as rare as they appear, just no one looking, or I guess in my case, Il-equiped in processing what I see.

Back in the gulf we continued our chase of boobies checking every tower, wreck, or anything above water we could safely or even borderline safely could get to.  Boobies and Gannets began to appear everywhere, unfortunately due to the waves and wind, we could not chase them down, the most interesting bird that flew over us, allowing me a single photo (more later below), took off and after I stashed my camera in the head, we gave chase.  I held on to a support pipe as at 35 kts we could not catch up to the bird.  I had a face full of saltwater, and was drenched from head to toe.  We gave up, a white bird then moved to our left, we chased that for a mile but then lost it, was it a booby?  all of a sudden that bird floated by us....Northern Gannet.........hum.

That was the rest of the day.....waves, boat out of the water, futile chases, wet boat passengers, and salt water over everything.

"I like your sense of adventure, Olaf!"  The boat captain, a former USCG career person said, "Crazy, but I like your sense of adventure and then another booby would appear and we learned that they flew faster down wind then we could go.

We saw a few terns....sandwich and royal terns.


90 gallons of fuel, and maybe a half gallon of ingested sea-water later, I stumbled up on the dock, having enough of the weather.  My eyes burned, my head hurt, my hands hurt from holding on tightly.  Luckily, we bailed on trying to cross to the Dry Tortugas, that channel would have killed us

I came back and looked at pictures, of course those on towers and sunken ships were easy to ID, and get good photos, this is probably my best Brown booby photo this year

I had seen some very dark juve boobies, some I could not photo, I posted a couple of pictures on Facebook, all of the white birds I saw were gannets, as best I could tell,

this one looked smaller but in looking at the picture, I think it is a juve Brown booby.

this second bird, that was actually the first booby we saw

A few on the Facebook Florida Rare Birds suggested this was indeed a juve Red-footed booby.

Larry Manfredi forwarded a dark juvie bird he'd seen at some point, and thinks it looks the same...
I think that darkish band on the chest is the key. I've only seen white-light phase red-foots in my life. Swallows and boobies are know, I saw a bird just like this in 2014 making the passage to Dry Tortugas and when Arvid my friend called it a red-foot, I pooh poohed it, but now, I think that was a red-foot juvie....sorry Jim "Arvid"

an hour later I was drinking lifer beer...Red-footed booby 770 (+1)

I was too tired and waterlogged to eat....

Like red-foot rumors, there have been MANY La Sagra's rumors so I went off to find one.

There is many theories in Big Pine Key, but I heard nothing, saw nothing, but I did see my first Key Deer, a new mammal species for the year

I searched at every rumored spot this week for that flycatcher....I heard many great crested flycatchers

saw some, some some that looked more like Great Crested than anything else, that said nothing.

I saw one that was very white underneath but I could neither photo it nor hear the call, so in the end, I don't know what I saw....the only thing for sure I could ID seemed to be raccoons, angry raccoons

Eventually, this coon snarled at me and chased me out of the hammock I was in, where was my spaniel when I needed her?

Finally tiring of Florida, I went home ...I finished my tooth fixing, got new eye-glasses, the salt water destroyed the lens coatings on my pair....and now Friday, I'm ready for my next adventure....

How did the Mosquito vote go anyways?   I never checked how the vote went, I guess it doesn't matter...



  1. I thought Red-footed Booby the second I saw your photo Olaf. Amazing job!

  2. Keep on trekking!
    Birding makes a lot more sense than politics.

    Nice job on the booby!


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