Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Day 4: Lifer Super chase: Maryland eastern shore and beyond


It was a very short night.  My flight to Baltimore from Houston TX last night was late and then I remembered why I did not like BWI airport the last time I blew through in 2013, the rental car experience.  First, I could not figure out at 0100 if Hertz was even still open, the phone number for them said they were closed, and then where was the shuttle pickup, it wasn't like ANY shuttle was running, I did see a Hilton shuttle, but then with the help of a parking lot shuttle drive sleeping in his van, he gave me some direction and then I found the stop.  No signs of anything, and ...it was cold outside, cold for even me.

Somewhere about 0130, I'm thinking of do I just sleep in the terminal and scrap my hotel room in Annapolis, and how am I going to even get a rental car?  Then, a bus heads my way, I figure it was a city bus, looked like a city bus and the last time I was here they had individual busses for each rental car line, by then I see Rental shuttle and it steams past me like I am the Devil, some guy a good block down from waves to the bus and it slams to the curb maybe a half a block past him.  He runs, and I think this is my last chance, I run.  Luckily, this older guy is not fleet of foot and I'm cold and desperate and as I near I hear the bus powering up and I hit the last door just as it is closing I throw a hip into it, the door freezes momentarily and then opens up and I peel myself off the door and fall in.  

"Stop blocking the door back there!" I hear on the overhead mic...""If you stopped the f^$$ing bus at the stop..." I mutter and off the bus goes before I sit down.  

I ask the guy next to me "where is this bus going?" I realize there are 6 people on this bus.  

"Rental lot." 
"Where did you get on?"
"At the rental bus stop at "A" terminal."

Surprisingly Hertz had a staff and my car so off I go to Annapolis then I pull up to my hotel "Hilton Garden Inn" at 0200, it turns out, there are two and the other one is on  the other side of town, it is 0220 until I get my room, realize the "buffet breakfast" is another $20 per person and I stumble to my room.

0600 came early and I skip the breakfast and see a Dunkin's, and pull through for a quick birder breakfast.  The credit card machine won't take my card, and finally the girl at the window winks and says just go.  So I got something

The Bay Bridge was nice to see at first light, I forget it is toll, well i think it was a toll bridge, it was hard to tell, but whatever, I'll see the bill later.  I pull into the Northern Lapwing spot, where there was only one report yesterday.  It was not a welcoming spot, no trespassing signs were everywhere, so I put on my flashers in the shoulder of the narrow road and scan from the warm car.  It is cold outside.  I scan the almost frozen pond with some black ducks and a small Canada goose flock keeping it open.  Shore looks frozen tight, and then I see a lump.  I get out my scope as trucks, cars, a bus roll past me on the edge of the road.  I see the head, long trailing crest on the head.  It is hunched down, like it is almost succumbed to the weather, but the head moved.  

Distant photos, but here is what it is supposed to look like
I had not seen one of these in Europe, yet, either and the numbers of this bird have dropped substantially in the last 20 years and it is no wonder that this bird usually seen almost every season in North America has not for the last decade.  I have been watching for any reports.  My friend Jim Brown one of the last ones seen in New Jersey years ago.
It was for me lifer bird number 4!!

It wasn't moving, I looked at the snow geese flocks, spotted a couple of Ross's geese, 
 and then I repositioned the car and could not refind it so at 0800 I made a break for the airport.  A nonstop flight for Portland, so I drove hard.  I sped into the rental car lot, and on the bus to the terminal I booked a ticket, got through security.  Found my gate and boarded, I was off to the last stop, four in the bag.

I think I was in my rental car at Portland before the plane was fully unloaded.  I drove to Boothbay Harbor to look for the crazy Steller's Sea Eagle spotted here and almost everywhere else, Texas, Quebec, and I think this might have been the bird spotted near Denali in Alaska over a year ago.  It has been around New England a little as well.  The Common black hawk of 2018-2019 looks almost sedentary compared to this bird.

I got up there near 130 PM after getting lost, could I get a double?  It was no problem being late, the bird was seen early in the day and then.....no sittings.

It was somewhere between frozen and frostbite out there on the stakeout.  I got a tip of where a local saw it near 4 PM but I scrambled to where that was but nothing.....so i found a room and now I await for tomorrow.  This surely is not going to be an easy get.  It may make the bat falcon, seem easy, and a heck of a lot warmer.
Long tailed ducks, something to pass the time

So, tonight, I sleep, tomorrow, I'm wearing every piece of clothing I have with, and we'll see....we'll see if I see the great and mighty eagle.

Stay warm, cause it is cold outside here, 



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