Friday, August 28, 2009

California: Day 1

Sorry I haven't uploaded any photos yet. I'll get there. 

Today was day one of my all too short trip to California.
I drove to Phoenix last night, where I spent an altogether too short night.  Awaking at 3am, I hopped on the highway and flew through the city and out into the desert.  A call from my friend Neil alerted me to the presence of a Great Knot in San Diego. Not all that far south of my destination. I changed plans and headed to San Diego via the Salton Sea. 
Arriving at the sea around 10:00, I slowly worked my way down the coast until I finally found 4 Yellow-footed Gulls at a random boat launch just north of Red Hill.  
Having seen my target bird, I flew on through and arrived in San Diego around 2:00pm.  The spot was a bit hard to find at first and then I had to walk about a mile to get there, but there were the birders. All clustered around scopes and cameras. All fixed on one subject. The Great Knot.  Now, it should be known that there is some speculation that this is not a pure Great Knot. Many people think it hybridized with a Surfbird. If it did (we're still waiting for the verdict) it would be even rarer. in fact, so rare, that this would be the first documented occurrence of this hybrid.  Still, a cool bird to see.  
Then I hopped back on the interstate (this time I-5) and headed on up to my friend Neil's house where I'm spending tonight, tomorrow and tomorrow night. We'll be birding around Orange County tomorrow. 

California is an interesting state with their own laws and their own customs.  Here, you will see Surfboards strapped to the roofs of cars rather than skis or snowshoes.  The balmy temperatures (conditioned by the cool breeze off the ocean) are a far cry from the super dry, oven-like conditions found in Tucson. 
It's almost always sunny here too. People will welcome you to "sunny california." They're proud of it. :D 
All in all, it's a cool state and has some great birding. Just, it's a bit hard to navigate. I've already gotten lost about 5 times...........

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Update and return from blogging hiatus

To all of my faithful followers, SORRY!!! I haven't posted in over a month.  Each time I went to do a post, I would get distracted by something. It's been an insane summer. 
I won't go into all the details just yet (save those for a dreary winter day :D ) but I will fill in on some of the stuff that has happened. 

As usual, for most of the summer, I've been chasing rare birds around southeast Arizona. Some of the birds that have turned up since my last post have been: Plain-capped Starthroat (as pictured on my blog header), Aztec Thrush, Brown-backed Solitaire (a potential first ABA record), a Green Kingfisher at San Pedro (which has repeatedly refused to appear for me), 2 Black-bellied Plovers at Wilcox (Found by me), another Aztec Thrush in the Chiricahuas (again, found by me) and several other awesome birds. 
A Wood Stork has been hanging around in Phoenix over the past week (I'm not chasing it) and a Blue-footed Booby turned up on a lake just east of Albuquerque, NM (might chase it). 

Other than that, it's been absolutely crazy.  I've been kept pretty busy. 

Oh! I wanted to tell you the most fun part of the whole summer! I got to help out with Camp Chiricahua! 
Some of you might remember me mentioning this last year when I attended Camp C. 
This year, I actually got to hang out with the group.  
It was a younger group of kids this year, but a very awesome and highly interested group. 
You could show them a bird 3 or 4 times and they would still look at it. You could show them plants, and they would look (Dave was very happy about this). 
Anyway, it was one of the most awesome groups I've ever hung out with. This year, instead of the usual one person not interested, it was the opposite. Everyone was interested and everyone was a good birder! Not like some groups you get where one person isn't a birder at all (Dave was pretty happy about this too. :D ) 
This year's camp counselor (Rebekah Rylander from Austin, TX) was awesome and did her job well (keeping the kids out of trouble.... lol ). Definitely a good person for the job and more creative than most. She gets high marks from me. ;) 

Camp C this year was highly successful (we even got to camp at Rustler Park this year. Got rained out last year.) The high point of the camp for almost all of the kids (I, unfortunately couldn't join them that day) was the finding and documenting of the ABA's potential first record of a Brown-backed Solitaire.  I heard from them a couple hours later and then drove over to join them that evening. They were ecstatic (It was the first time any Camp Chiricahua group had found a first ABA area record). Dave seemed to be almost more ecstatic than they were! :D 
As you can imagine, I wasn't very happy. ;)  But I did take them to Patagonia to see the Sinaloa Wren and then on to Florida Canyon to see the Black-capped Gnatcatchers. 

After dropping them off in Tucson, I headed back to Sierra Vista the next morning and headed up Ramsey Canyon. Fortunately for me, my luck held and I did not even have to wait. The bird sang as I walked up the canyon. 5 minutes later, I was looking at the ABA's first potential record (well, first to potentially be accepted anyway) Brown-backed Solitaire. 
Fortunately for everyone, the bird stuck around for a few weeks which gave me time to go back and photograph it. 

Unfortunately for the campers, an Aztec Thrush was found in Ramsey Canyon a few weeks later. I had the good fortune to be able to go see and photograph that bird as well. 

A couple weeks later, a Plain-capped Starthroat showed up in Patagonia at the Spirit Tree Inn. 
I had just happened to be in Sierra Vista when the bird was reported so I was able to be there the next morning. Again, my stroke of good luck held. The bird came in every 30 minutes (hence the photo on my blog header)  Unfortunately for others, that was the only day it did. 

Other than that, it's been rather quiet recently. 

Onward to upcoming news! 
I am driving to Tucson tomorrow, getting some stuff checked out on my car, and then I am driving to Monterey, California on Friday!! 
I'll be doing it in stages. I'll drive to L.A., spend some time puttering around there, then drive north along the coast to Monterey where I will be catching the Aug 31st Pelagic trip with Debi Shearwater!! You can tell I'm excited. :D 
It will be my first Pelagic trip ever so I'm expecting lots of lifers.  I'm buying another CF card so that I can take lots of pictures.  I'll need it. I expect that the first 200 or so photos will be blurry. I'll need a few hours of practice to get sharp photos from a moving boat. 

Anyway, I'll give a full report about that when I get a chance.  

I will be back in Arizona on the 4th of Sept. I'm picking up Dave Jasper from the Airport on the 5th and will be back in Portal that night. I will be in Portal on the 6th (packing mostly) and then starting the long drive home on the 7th.  I will be home by the 15th. Just in time to leave for Duluth on the 16th.  I'll be home for good by the 21st. 

Sorry for the lack of photos in this post. I felt bad, so, same as the last post, here's my Flickr url:

Happy Birding!!