12 May 2016

Master of Arts (ABA #600)

The past few weeks have been a roller coaster. I've been stressed, sick, exhausted, elated, depressed, jovial, and somehow managed to get some sleep from time to time. The past three years have been leading to this pivotal time in my life, and its hard to believe I'm here.

On 2 May 2016, I successfully defended my Masters thesis at the University of Kansas, and am now a Master of Arts. I cannot thank my family and friends enough for their support, and I am extremely excited to be where I am now. My wife, who also just got her Masters, is equally excited for our future. We will be moving to Chicago soon, and I will be starting my PhD at the University of Chicago and the Field Museum of Natural History in early July.

This is, however, a birding blog foremostly, so I must also relate my other big news from the past several weeks. This past Monday, despite having a bad cold, I traveled to visit my sister for her graduation from Arizona State University (she also got a Masters degree!). While I dreamed of what birds I could find in the Saguaro-studded desert, I ended up missing half of the graduation festivities as my illness got the best of me. I was, however, able to take enough painkillers and get enough rest to make it to her evening ceremony. Given the parking situation, we had to walk a little ways to get to the facility. Despite my stuffed-up ears, I was able to ear a few of the very close birds such as Great-tailed Grackles and House Sparrows.

Just as we were walking across the parking lot, I heard a call that was new, yet somehow familiar. I immediately realized it was a type of parrot, and remembered that my wife had mentioned seeing one as I was laying sick in bed earlier that day. I quickly scanned the sky with my family, and we were quickly rewarded by not one, but two Rosy-faced Lovebirds flying overhead. I did not fully realize it until later, but this was my 600th ABA species. It was not a life bird, though, as I had seen them twice before: once in Augrabies, South Africa, and once in Marienthal, Namibia.

More soon,

Jacob

26 April 2016

Coming soon...

Lately, I have been bad about updating my blog and getting information out there. Part of this is for one simple reason: information about my trips will be published in other venues very soon, and there is not much I can say.

Our recent trip to Equatorial Guinea was a huge success, and we had two Audubon Magazine personnel with us who are writing a trip about it. As soon as it comes out, I will link it here. In the meantime, feel free to check out my recordings on Xeno-Canto and my photographs on Flickr. We had a lot of great birds, including three first country records for Equatorial Guinea.

I also recently did a bird tour for Tropical Birding; we chased the grouse all around the state. I will be publishing a trip report through Tropical Birding soon, and will link to it here. In the meantime, enjoy videos of dancing grouse as I study for my thesis. I will be defending Monday, and will hopefully make my next blog post as a Master of Arts. More to come...

Jacob


Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) displaying near Coalmont, Colorado.

24 August 2015

Glacier & Waterton Lakes

After visiting my brother's family in Billings, we continued north, getting an early start to visit the grasslands of Musselshell County. A well known spot for Mountain Plover, we cruised the open expanses in vain, but were able to enjoy a host of other plains species: McCown's Longspurs were everywhere, and multiple Chestnut-collared Longspurs could be found in their midst. We were mobbed by a territorial pair of Marbled Godwits as we walked one section of the plains, and songs of the Western Meadowlarks were our constant companions.

Limosa fedoa (Marbled Godwit)

A Marbled Godwit in Musselshell County, Montana.

From here, we continued winding our way across the plains, visiting Giant Spring before heading northwest to our final destination: Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park is a place that I have dreamed of visiting for years, and one that Caroline was blown away by. From the sheer rock faces to the dense cedar rainforests beauty abounded, and Caroline subtly tried to convince me that I should look into jobs in the Pacific northwest. Chestnut-backed Chickadees and Varied Thrushes, birds that I had not seen since my field work in Idaho, made appearances on the shadowy trails of the park, and we even found Caroline's first Black Bear ever.

Anthus rubescens alticola (American Pipit)

An American Pipit trying to figure out why I'm staring at in at Logan Pass, Glacier National Park, Montana

Avalanche Creek, Glacier National Park, Montana

Avalanche Creek, Glacier National Park, Montana

After two days in the stunning canyons of northern Montana, we headed even further north, crossing into Alberta, Canada and Waterton Lakes National Park. Here, I worked on my Canadian bird list and Caroline and I soaked in the views of the equally spectacular Canadian Rockies.

Cameron Lake

Cameron Lake, Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

From here, we headed even further north still to Banff and Jasper National Parks, impatiently awaiting the glaciers that lay before us.

To be continued!