Friday, December 30, 2016

My trip to Hell and back...The Bad Weather gets revenge

There comes a time when one has to give homage to who is the most powerful, and in this "Bad Weather Big Year" it is the weather that rules Olaf.  I have talked about blizzards, rain, wind, tornadoes, floods, waves, etc etc etc, but until Christmas day those were just jabs, repeated jabs to the head but the weather had a massive one-two left, a right cross followed by a devastating left hook.....and as they say, "down goes Frazier..oh I mean, Olaf."

December 25-30th???? 

Northeastern South Dakota was visited by Santa this Christmas and instead of toys and goodies, Ole' St. Nick brought coal, coal in the form of snow, wind and freezing slushy rain that well went okay until some time after 4pm on Sunday when the power went off.  This was no ordinary power outage or even ice storm as the ice brought down the main transmission lines into the region.  We have underground power at my house and underground lines, good thinking if you ask me.  I wrote last summer about birding in North Dakota when the power company was putting in underground to my cabin and accidentally cut my underground power line.  I had to rush home.  Well I got a new RV hook up for that but I thought that was a good thing.

But what I didn't expect then or now was such a massive damage to the big lines transmission lines, a substation without power is not a good thing.  We were in Minneapolis for Christmas and well it would not even be possible to get home for 48 hours and then, no heat, no power, nothing....4 nights at the house like this but well, at 1038 last night....I had Christmas lights!!

I was looking for my flashlight when all of a sudden I could lights make a lot of light when there is only blackness.  The house was down to 44 degrees, we had just drained the hot tub, I was pitching the fridge and freezer and I was thinking about draining the water system....but now crisis averted!  Whew!!

The cabin, though, about 40 miles west of here was where the ice meets the road, it is ugly.  "Prepare for power outage for the foreseeable future," the Power Co-op said over there.  They basically had to start from scratch.  It took them 72 hours to even get to the Grenville Substation to even see if it was salvageable.  They had to fly over the mainlines to assess the damage.  It was not good.  I was hearing horror stories so today (12/30) I headed over to see what was up and to make an attempt to try to even get to my cabin.  I prepared for the worst, at least I'd finish winterizing if I could get close enough, it was 20 degrees and blowing 15 mph , so not all that bad weather wise around here, next week-20- minus 30, wind, so the time is now to try to salvage anything.  We heat it all winter and well, being gone so much, the winterizing wasn't complete.

Getting there now 5 days out.....The roads nearby were some of the most treacherous roads I've ever driven on, thick ice, the gravel is covered and it is just rough and pulls the car.  You can't stop, you can't turn, you can't do much of anything.

At one point on County 1, which is actually closed, but the sheriff let me through as I had property....this normal corner, banked, all properly engineered, is totally impassable.

The road is banked but at 5 mph, which is the best speed you can go, you will just slide sideways and off into the ditch.  Even just standing on it, gravity pulls you into the ditch.  It was almost impossible to walk past the orange cones.  I tried until the deputy yelled at me to move along.  They diverted you into a field, then a dirt road, generally the power trucks drove past this point in the fields.  Imagine a truck pulling trailer with powerpoles trying to make that corner, the trailer would just slide down sideways as momentum meets gravity without friction.

I got to the road for my cabin 2 miles away, more like the corner of disaster and mayhem

It took me 30 minutes to go a mile and a quarter, although to be honest, I was distracted, I flushed 6 gray partridge and some grouse (20?), mostly sharp tails but there could have been prairie chickens intermixed, as they are in my local flock but I didn't pick out any specifically, I was just trying to stop, which took over a hundred yards.

I've written before that the way to identify Gray partridge at a distance flying is that grouse just fly to the next field, gray partridge fly to the next section, or the section after that....they go and go, ...and go...

the grays went over the hill and were gone, the grouse stopped a quarter mile across the road.  Definitely sharpies in the tree but the birds in the shelter belt were too far to ID completely at least the ones obscured....I was too geared up for cabin salvage than to get out and scope them.

Okay, I got about a quarter mile from my cabin, which ended up being a mistake as the only way to get out was to drive backwards through crusted snow drifts with my hatch open.  That was tough, actually.  I'd have taken my F250 but it is encased in ice in my pole shed and was too much work to extricate.

My favorite shade tree and I only have 2 shade trees on this property took a beating, poor white ash...not sure what I'm going to do next summer.  Trees here are a lifetime project.

As I feared, large hard drifts blocked my back yard, making it hard to even get to my door.  That fence is exactly 6 feet high, btw.

Eventually I got in, poured antifreeze in the toilets, looked things over and began a laborious process of getting access to my crawl space, removing a 3 foot drift and then chiseling and pounding 3 inches of ice from my crawl space access through my deck.  It took an exhausting hour.  Finally using a crow bar, it gave.  I looked below... 

There in the six feet between me and the foundation, solid hard, snow, so hard, I could not even poke the broom handle through it.  The snow had blown through the cracks in the deck and all the rain made it settle into a cake of hard pack.  It looked like an 8 hour project to get through.  I swore and put the door back.  Maybe my crawl space is sealed so tight it would stay warm enough down there for weeks of no power....IDK.  Sigh.......

I made sure the water remained off, I have no pressure as pump and well on power, so what else could I do?  I walked to my car and went and watched a line crew repairing a line 1.5 miles as the crow flies from my cabin....

Drill baby drill I say as I watched them put in a new pole.  They will just chainsaw that old stub down.  I almost got hit by a sliding line truck so I decided that I better go.....for the area around Enemy Swim Lake and Summit SD, it is going to be a the meantime, everyone is hanging out at the local truck in South Dakota the weather has defeated many of us, but well, Dakotans are tough, no power in problem....-20 next week, it will be a badge of honor or the saying will be well, it could have been -30 like that blizzard in 1998.....

So where was I when all of this went down?

I was heading to Newfoundland...seemingly away from the storm to get a kelp gull seen on 12-25 morning, unfortunately while I was flying the plane I was heading to meet in Toronto was coming from Winnipeg, Blizzard came late.  We boarded late, and then after circling St John's for 2 hours, unable to land as a different storm hit them literally a few minutes before we got there....we diverted to Halifax.....sigh.  It was 5 hours in the air.....Yet another night, this one unscheduled, in an airport terminal.  What does one do stranded at an airport in winter?  Not much....use up battery power checking things, being on hold for 2 hours (2:04 to be precise) to get your new flight...trying to sleep worried they might just leave without you.

I did make it out the next day getting to the Rock at 6pm....I picked up a car that had the meter running from the day before and checked into a hotel I had also paid the previous night for....glad I had a hotel room on Christmas night (LOL, ha ha...sigh)....some guy did try to sing Christmas carols in Halifax to liven the mood but he was sneered at and so he promptly stopped.

I birded St John's for 2 days. 12/ 27-28th, according to locals, gull numbers were down since the storm and well, finding a kelp gull in a sea of Great black backs is not easy....slightly smaller, legs greenish different bill structure but we had bad flat light they weren't always close on out of the water so what really does even color look like in this light?

You can see it in the throng...correct?   Clear as mud...

Well none of us could....the kelp gull did NOT show....I assume the storm disrupted it....maybe it moved on?  I got a headache looking so hard, all the while tufted ducks swam by....

Not even really worth counting...a code 3 not even worth counting....the kelp gull dip weighed on me...I wanted that bird.

Then a bit of a 2nd storm came in on the 27th and the wind picked up and with the ice storm home, on the 28th, I had to bug out in the afternoon on a three hopper home or I wouldn't get there.  So did I just go home?  After making my flight to Detroit in Montreal, as customs was a zoo, and the security line in St John's was worse and I had misread Newfy time, I said what the heck...
 I added the 4th leg of the journey.  I flew to Spokane, say I was crazy, but well, I figured, what damage to my house was done already, I'd get there tomorrow.

I ended up in Lewistown, Idaho at 2:30 am and then at dawn went to look for the red-flanked bluetail, always a fun bird.  Some eastern Idaho birders joined me and then I spotted it for the day, working a Russian olive and then hiding down near the water.  "There it is"  I shouted and soon I had company

bird #776 plus 2, and the rarest bird ever or so the locals say, to visit Idaho.
Cool, I talked to so many Idahoans (and local Washingtonites, as they are just across the Snake River, here at Hell's Gate, who knew me.  They patted me on the back, one thought what I did in Hawaii was great, he actually trained Jack Jeffrey.  Another wished me well.  Still another asked me if I wanted to get this bird nude and why wasn't I nude?  I said I was too tired and had not thought of that yet...I was was the support I needed.  I had to leave those fine folks and I did it proud, it was the moment of the year but I had to get back to Spokane to make a plane and avoid the wrath of Silja.

My wife texted me and asked how the house was, did I feed the cats?...."Do you want the truth or do you want a lie?"  I replied.  I fessed up I was in Spokane...."Spokane?"  she responded, at least it wasn't in caps.....I needed to get home to check on cats...drain water...etc....the cabin...yea...

Now I wanted the Kelp gull as that is a life bird....this is mostly, in my opinion, about lifers, year numbers...oh well....I've seen bluetails before, but I seemed easy enough....I could have went and seen the graylag goose in Rhode Island but I don't like that bird's story....the story is strong...very strong for a domestic bird.  They say it was with a flock of Canadas, but well then it was by itself, near a golf course, not far from a repeat sighting in CT which disappeared just as this one showed up AND also another bird across in Long Island, in fact domestic graylags are seen all over the eastern US Seaboard, look it up on ebird, it will shock you.....give me that bird in Newfy or Nova Scotia...maybe but heck, they don't even see that bird all that often in Greenland, the two Newfy records....Oil derrick and a ship, not even seen ever on land......I don't think it is real, just like I won't count a white cheeked pintail in VA--- Delmarva....and that bird is closer to the Bahamas than that goose is to Iceland.  Maybe Rhode Island will accept it, but I honestly don't know how they can.  I hope I'm proved wrong but well if it is accepted, I guess, anything really and truly goes in the hobby.

If so, I'll add this bird to my lifer list ....

Looks an awful lot like the Rhode Island bird and well this Minnesota bird could be wild, it was with Canada geese following behind it.  It flew off with them and oddly it too, was at a golf course.   I don't see a band,....I only chased that reported spot-billed as it seemed so odd and few are kept in captivity but well, I also needed something to do.....I guess if others want to add this bird, it IS their list, and well, I'n surely not the birding police.  The end of the day, all I got for this year is a severely injured ankle, a wife needing TLC, and a cabin that may be in need of new plumbing...oh and don't forget the credit card bill.

Many people  have lost their property and even their lives in this storm, as such dwelling on air miles and bird numbers, etc. doesn't seem to matter.  I'm just lucky and feel lucky really that I only lost a freezer full of food and maybe a couple grand worth of plumbing.  When you go to bed tonight, think of the linemen of your power company and what they do to keep your lights on.  Electricity is a wonderful thing, very wonderful, without it, life sucks, Hell even.  I have gas and hot water heat, but it needs power to run, the water needs a pump and well, I am using my new power to write this blog.

Thank you Ottertail Power Linemen for putting your life at risk to lay out that new feeder transmission line I documented, and all of the coops and other crews from all over the place, Lake Region Electric Coop and Whetstone Valley, my power companies....thanks, I wasn't swearing at you, just the situation


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Conditioner versus Softener,

The waves of mountains and fog!  I like this picture.  I found myself returning to Oregon, and chasing a bird I seemed to never be able to see, at least this year, the brambling.

As I believe I already mentioned, I lived for six weeks in Portland in 1991, training at Oregon Health Sciences.  It was a trip of stories, involving: getting lost in Wyoming in a wilderness, the second part of my Cody-Grizzly Inn story (read my book), picking up a screw driver in a tire in Idaho, staying at my brother-in-laws, an attempted motel break in on Sandy Avenue (my wife and I hiding under the bed), an odd Llama Ranch B&B under Mt Adams, a terrible learning experience at OHSU (when I presented my final paper my adviser stopped me saying, "Did you just start?" I had worked with him for 6 weeks and he forgot I was even there...), Narrowly avoiding getting run over by a logging truck in Idaho while sleeping under car, and my lifer Long eared owl in Montana.  It could have been a great summer of vacation but I ruined it going to Portland! But I have out sized memories and stories for such a period of my life.

I do always learn something in Portland.  That is a good thing, I guess.  Today, the big discussion was that the millennials don't use fabric softener.   Proctor and Gamble sales of the stuff has fallen 100 million dollars this year.   P&G wants to rename it from Softener to "Conditioner."  They think that will help.  The radio personality, discussed various reasons including P&G assumes they don't even know what it is.  These people discussed that maybe there was some environmental reason behind the avoidance but I agree, they don't know what it is....really what is it?  What does it do?

The discussion went on to remind us all of the Snuggly soft bear, and then how the DJ had tied up the arms and legs of her stuffed animals as a kid to subdue them when they came alive each night...trying to kill the members of her household...then luckily, and thankfully, I was in Florence, OR and it was time to bird.

It took me a while to find the location as there were at least two similarly named and numbered streets near Sutton Lake but I found the person's yard where they had found a brambling in the Christmas bird count.  Another birder had beaten me to the stakeout and so together we waited, and waited.  I sat on a retaining wall and watched a rather unbirdy bird feeder.  It took an hour and a half for juncos to show.  First one, then five, then 15, and then...Steller's jays came and everyone left.  Dang!  I spotted an Anna's hummingbird....??  That seemed odd, until the local birder said they winter here.

Another local birder came.  We waited, we talked, we moved to keep warm and then a junco came, then 2, then 10, then 20 and then...

Brambling!!  Bird 775 plus (+2), yeah, a monkey was finally off of my back.  It wasn't a great photo but well this was like my 200th brambling, but it was a photo and I should have went and got the Ohio bird and then how I missed one in Alaska was beyond me, continually wrong place wrong time...but this is a needed bird no more, week 51, is better than never.  Branbling...TICK!!  All three of us saw it in the grass and then...Steller's Jays showed up and poof, juncos and the brambling...all gone.

But I had it.  I decided I had been shivering enough so I drove past a pretty section of Oregon's coast

Then I drove around Mary's Peak area west of Corvalis looking for my USA nemesis, sooty grouse.  The roads were a little scary as they had a recent ice storm and the roads had some ice left on them. Then I drove past a female grouse, almost forgetting what I was doing up there.  I did like a 20 point turn trying to turn the car around and try to get a photo.  I was careful on the narrow road to not drive over and lost the bird's location, I stopped and then four feet from my door, it flushed, no picture.  Isn't that the way these go?  I got out up a ways and hiked a ridge for a while and flushed a 2nd grouse out of a conifer but had no more chance than just to see it.  But...I had seen my last missing USA bird.....the other Canada birds I had seen this year, are three rare actually code 4 vagrants....and one not even on the checklist, otherwise every bird I've seen has been in good old USA.  Neil Hayward missed 9, I was now basically down to 3, plus my huge Hawaii list moved my USA total up 2 to 826.  That is a number I am really happy with.

Big Year Total:  775 (plus 2 plus 2)
**New ABA  803  (+28, +2)*
*will always be unofficial, to them,

USA, The American Big Year, 825 (+1, +2)
Coded Birds:  102
provisionals: 4
first number :checklist 2
second number: IDs pending 2

Miles driven.  45,741
Flight Miles 266, 700
miles on ATV 475
speeding tickets: 1
flight segments: 241   Different Airports: 70
Near bear/ death experiences 2
Hours at sea: 284
Miles walked 573
showshoes 4 (isn't going to be any more)
Miles biked 12

states/ prov. birded: 38
Lifer states 49
new ones this year 3
Lifers seen this year:  74 (+2)
nights slept in car:  12
slept in airplane:  17

So, after crazy traffic in Portland, the worst traffic town in the USA, I made it to my hotel by the airport and sitting here writing this I am still wondering.....what really does fabric softener really do?  Conditioner?  That seems stupid.  Have we all been sold something the millennials have figured we don't really need?  Gosh are they smart!! Oh the things I learn in Portland.  This does beat the Bee funerals, I learned once here....Oh and I forgot my Naked wine bottle, maybe next time...

BTW, I am featured in the Watertown Public Opinion this weekend....Christmas cheer and Olaf, sit down and read it by the fireplace celebrating the Holidays.....maybe better add some rum to that Egg Nog while you read, but if you read this, you already know my stories, I write it here first.  In that case just drink, drink heavily.  Tonight is St Lucia's Night, the longest night of the year, hang in there, it will brighten up!

Merry Christmas


Friday, December 16, 2016

Paradise Revisted

Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii December 11-15, 2016

The legendary Pueo, the Hawaiian owl, a subspecies of short-eared owl.  The protector in many Hawaiian legends.  In general, after my sad report from Kaua'i and Maui, things are maybe a little better on the big island.  Myabe the pueo is protecting what remains, but I don't think so.  Not unlike this owl that appears to be just about everywhere in the world even in places it boggles my mind how they ever got here, so is Olaf everywhere and like a bad penny, I have returned to the 50th state---Hawaii.  I had work to finish up and well, I was mentally ready for more depression.  Coming here and thinking of what was and might have been takes a mental toll on a birder.  Besides, I told you I had two tickets to paradise....

I sped over here from Seattle.  I was coincidentally closer but that was lucky and unplanned.  I landed in Honululu and basically went to bed at 6:30.  It was going to be another three island swing.  I planned on spending a day on Oahu, then Maui, before finally going to Hawaii. I had avoided the big island due to a disease called Rapid Ohi'a Death, what a name, and a disease so feared and scary just going to the big island keeps you from visiting certain preserves on the other islands. This nasty fungus just appeared out of nowhere and no one is sure from where although there is a similar variety that attacks sweet potatoes.  Everything, it seems, is conspiring to kill off the last remaining Hawaiian forest birds.

The Wakamoi Preserve on Maui pretty much has closed down to visitors because of the risks of this fungus which could destroy the few endangered birds that were left.  It took me 3 months, and basically a miracle to get a trip with local docent Chuck Probst, I went through the media department as well as direct and I'm not sure what worked but I got the rare permission.  Chuck is a cool guy but it is clear that the boardwalk in this preserve will be visited by few from no one, and if the fungus spreads in the big island, all the rare birds on preserve lands will be off limits.  It is a bad deal, but so is the fungus.  Poeple can't be trusted to clean their shoes and the state....the state worries about fruit and plants being brought in but actually don't even inspect your stuff.  Exotic insects have ruined agriculture here to a large degree.  

I never ate at a restaurant on this trip, no beach, no sun, and I just birded and slept.  On Oahu, I needed the Oahu elepaio and on a tip, I went up a new trail, muddy with a rope to pull up and after slipping in the mud and hurting my ankle, I saw one.  I wasn't worried I didn't get a photo as I would see another....wrong.....I missed my flight to Maui in a traffic jam at the Hertz rental return lot of all places but I got to Maui.  That was my first missed flight of the year.  I was NOT going to miss my trip into the preserve.   I had worked so hard and was thinking, I'd rent a helicopter if needed.

I got to Maui and went up to the volcano to look for Hawaiian petrel but I found 40 mph winds, cold, fog, and loud foreign tourists who were improperly dressed.  No petrel.  sigh.  I went to my hotel 30 miles away.  The Hawaiian petrel was not to be.

The morning brought the first of 48 hours of wonderful weather.  We met and went to the Wakamoi Preserve.  I had spent months trying to gain access and the day I arrived the birds were out singing.

I met Chuck again.  Chuck is the uncle I needed.  War veteran, paratrooper, orthopedic surgeon, all around cool guy, and has a life list over 7400.  He has two artificial knees and goes like a goat in the woods.  His house is a dream house on the base of the volcano in Maui.  I do not know how to repay the help I had getting two heard only birds but the Akohekohe was tough.  The trip into the preserve was one of high hopes dashed by the reality that is birding.  We dipped on the Maui parrotbill, a bird sadly I will never get to see in my life but well, I hope it hangs in there.  I would like to thank the Nature Conservancy for letting me in.  I will work on my next newspaper story and it is good they saved this forest, a bird sanctuary that was actually found accidentally by Jack Jeffrey (next).  I drove down and grabbed a plane to Kona.  I was done on Maui and finally could now visit the big island.  This was not what I expected.  I expected something like Grenada, forests, trees, green but what I got was western South Dakota, dry treeless hills.

I started to chase exotics and then on the 14th, I birded with the same Jack Jeffrey, the Hawaiian legend and Hawaii biologist who has witnessed 7 extinctions.  But he states generally things are looking better on the Big Island, well in the area we were at.  It took us until exactly 10:02 to get all the Hakalau forest birds including a couple that are beyond endangered,

The Akiapola'au, so specialized to eat the larvae of one beetle off one tree, and have a bill that is unlike any other passerine bill, it is a evolutionary relic.  Super specialized animals do not survive change.  Even Mauna Kea erupting could have killed off this bird but yet, 800 survive and we got one!

Dig that crazy bill, he can move each one independently.

I also birded with a Ball State Wildlife Professor and we learned about all the rare plants found, the evils of over-grazing. It was a good time.  Jack showed what could be done if overgrazing is stopped and the right trees are planted.  The local Hawaiian homeland owned land has this fascination with Japanese cedars which help nothing out, so maybe as they have land around this forest overgrown with Scottish Gorse, maybe someday someone will plan for the future of all Hawaiians, even the flying ones.

Also, by the way, don't smoke the pokeweed!

an old pathology toxicology lesson from medical school, and here is a native variety.  THIS STUFF KILLS YOU IF IT IS SMOKED BUT YOU GET A GOOD HIGH BEFORE DEATH.  It was a botany lesson as well all day in the forest.  Best day birding in a long time.  I was so overwhelmed by it all.  I learned more in decades walking through that largely reforested tract.  It gave me hope.

My final day in Hawaii, I spent the early morning looking in vain for a chestnut-bellied sandgrouse.  I think I heard them but I wasn't sure.  I gave up and then spent three hours in the mamane forest looking for another ultra-rare bird, the Palila.  Crud.  That was work.  I could not walk when I finally found one, and in the tree next to my rental SUV.  At a backup spot I had been told.  I great look at a great bird.

 The mamane this bird needs doesn't look so impressive.

Numbers on this bird..1000.  Down from 4000 in 2003, up from 200 in 1950, down from 40,000 mid 1800s.  I guess better than 1950....
But what a cool cool bird!  Wow.  My busted ankle almost didn't, it hurt like hell.  I just forgot.  I'm glad I only got 2 weeks left of this madness.

In the final summary.  I got 28 of the possible 31 endemic Hawaiian birds, missing the Maui parrotbill, puaiohi (the small Kaua'i thrush), and the Hawaiian petrel.  I got most of the exotics, missing a couple but some of those are very scarce and I doubt will be added to the ABA list, but IDK, that isn't my call. 54 species on my 2 trips here in total.

endemic birds

H20  Oahu elepaio

Seen in darkest part of trail below me and could not get anything on camera.  White seen on tail and it is pretty hard to miss ID an elepaio.  I figured I would see another one.  I figured wrong.  This was the only one.

H21  Akohekohe

Heard only and about as well as you can hear this bird with call and song.  Saw it head out the back door of a tree and despite efforts by Dr Probst we could not see

H22  Hawaiian Hawk

Endangered native buteo.  This is a dark phase juvie bird.  The female I saw was a light morph.  They are small act like red-shouldered hawks and have a rather odd soaring pattern reminding me more of hook-billed kites than buteos.  Harder to find than I thought they would be.

H23   Hawaii elepaio

here is a juvenile bird note the orange on this young flycatcher's bill.  They have a lot less color

there are three subspecies on the island representing 3 isolated populations on three mountains

H24   Akakane (Hawaiian Akepa)

Although I saw two brilliant orange males, this endangered bird is difficult to photo as they are so small.  I was lucky to get photo ops of these two female types.  The two related species (were subspecies went extinct on Oahu and Maui in the mid 1990s.

H25   Akiapola'au

What a crazy looking bird.  Sadly maybe 800 are left but as I noted, they eat a single larvae from a specific bug on ohi'a trees.  This is a younger bird.  They act a little like woodpeckers.  A very tough bird to find.  They have home ranges in the hundreds of acres so need a large territory.

H26  Hawaii Creeper

BIRD #800!!!  well with the new ABA, without exotics!
cool!  This endangered bird has maybe 12,000 birds in number.  They poke around like nuthatches.

H27  Oma'o

One of two of Hawaiian thrushes not extinct, but the Kaua'i thrush is on the verge like the other two birds that died out in the last century.  These guys appear to be doing well and are instrumental in spreading tree seeds.  They have a really cool song.

H28  Palila

They eat only the toxic bitter seeds of the mamane seeds AND a caterpillar that feeds on the trees that concentrate the bitterness but are edible to humans but reportedly one of the most foul tasting things ever in nature, but the palila thrives on them.  under a thousand in existence, down from 4000 ten years ago which was an improvement from 200 in 1950 but there were 40,000 150 years ago.

Winner of the lawsuit in the 1970s "Palila versus the State of Hawaii," which forced the state to comply with eradication of goats and game that were eating the trees.  The state was trying to make hunters happy.  This is the only lawsuit that an animal was the plaintiff.

I was so happy to see this bird.  Did I say this?

Exotics seen:

HP 22  Japanese bush-warbler

heard only, with Dr Probst, skulky bird

HP 23  Kalij Pheasant

HP 24 Saffron Finch

HP 25  Yellow billed cardinal

HP 26  Red-masked parakeet

I saw the Hawaii Amakihi (Hawaii) subspecies for a bank bird for some year if they split the Maui and Hawaii Island birds.  Here is a pretty male.  The numbers of these birds seem adequate.  I assume thousands lost but not critical yet.

At least the sign doesn't ban birding, it seems they ban everything else.

Well Hawaii is now done.  I can do no more so time to bug out.   The missing endemics I do not have access to 2 of them and the petrel is largely at sea, way at sea.

the numbers fwiw

So ABA is still #774 (+2, +2)

but with the 9 new edemic ones and 6 exotics
New ABA 802 (+28, +2)*
*will always be unofficial, to them,

USA, The American Big Year, 824 (+1, +2)

Second number in provisional is awaiting correct ID, first number waiting checklist addition

Thanks Jack and Chuck!
Thank you Hawaii!  Well, somewhat, get your act together and save these birds!
I'm heading east.....

Some thoughts on Hawaii.  The big island can be saved, but it needs help.  Time, I fear is short.  It needs people on the ground to convince some intrangent thinking of land owners and governmental agencies that this is important.  People need to buy land and preserve it.  Ranchs need to be bought out and that isn't cheap but it has been done.  Get the cows off the land.  I told Jack Jeffreys that we should write letters to Warren Buffet, I guess his sister is a birder.  The carbon people should come here and promote trees, trap carbon in new forests.

The island also needs money to replant and root out all of the exotic trees and shrubs.  They need money to eradicate pigs and put up fences.  The USFW is trying in Hawaii, BUT they get ignored nationally, I think.  Everyone in the lower 48 has pet projects and they get the money, but none of the lower 48 problems compare to the problems here.  Hawaii is bit one of 50 states.  In Maui, the Maui Forest Bird recovery project is trying, but short of funds, as is the Nature Conservancy but everyone seems to be holding their breath with R.O.D.  If the ohi'a die off, this fight is over.  In the end of the day....I think I'd recommend going to Hawaii and see what you can now, get a feeling of things and plan accordingly.


Golden dreams and memories

  Today brings me to the north suburbs of Chicago.  Although not for a bird even though a lifer bird had been flying tantalizingly close to ...