The Chimney Swifts streaming by to the south have gradually had their airspace invaded and have now been replaced by the lazy arcs of the Tree Swallows enjoying their winter hideout. My daily trudges to class have witness a similar transformation, as the chips and tsips of American Redstarts, Yellow Warblers and Yellow-throated Warblers have given way to the type-writing calls of the Ruby-crowned Kinglets and smacking calls of the Orange-crowed Warblers wintering in the fern-laden boughs of the Live Oaks. Talking to my girlfriend, Emily, in New Orleans has helped me get through the weekends of overwhelming homework and my brief birding forays with Kevin Morgan and other Louisiana birders have kept me sane, and my first semester of my junior year of school is drawing to a close. No matter who I see though, all have asked me the same question. Emily asks it a way that alludes to the excitement that must await, my dad with the panic that much is yet to be done and most others with a sense of foreboding for the unknown that awaits me. "Are you ready for your next semester?"
Usually such a question would not make me think twice. I would shrug off such a query with an off the cuff remark about the continuous march of time, thinking of the constant flow of birds being the timepiece of my mind. Since my disturbingly late last blog post, I have been keeping myself busy with the natural world and a disturbingly large class load. I passed my spring classes with straight A's, despite a week of "studying" with my friends from Tropical Birding and Houston Audubon in High Island the week before my April organic chemistry test, and I took up an intensive work schedule in the southwestern United States once again. I finished my classes, flew home for Emily's graduation, and took off to beat the storms through the mountain passes to go to work. I was plunged headlong into a sea of gypsum in southern New Mexico, and spent the rest of my summer doing general bird surveys in Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado, interspersing my long summer with periodic trips home to visit my family.
As I sat at home for part of my summer eating lunch, contemplating on everything I had (and had not) done that summer, my existentialism was interrupted by my sister on her way to work.
"It's weird," she said half in my direction, "You haven't done anything this summer."
I was partially offended, and replied, "I'm here, aren't I?"
"Well, yeah, but that's kind of boring. Don't you want to go somewhere?"
She was right, I did. I really did. So, I submitted paperwork at my university to make that a reality and put it out of my head. However, I am a more qualified person for many things than I give myself credit for, and was surprised to be asked if I was ready for my next semester, even if that semester were not in America. It was then, while listening to music in my dorm and looking at my email, that I realized my next semester would not be highlighted by the return of Purple Martins over the local lakes or the leafing of the cypress trees in the flooded bayous, but instead by penguins fleeing the Great White Sharks of the southern ocean and the bizarre and foreign plants of the fynbos and karoo. In just over two months, I will be stepping off a plane in South Africa to spend six months of my life near the legendary Cape of Good Hope.
One of the first things I realized when I heard this was that I would have a lot to do to get ready for the coming months, and one of those things involved this blog. It has been neglected for so long, and so many stories and things that have occurred have escaped the fate of being chronicled here on my webpage. It is for this reason that I wish to make a concerted effort to revamp this blog and update it throughout my foreign travels (and if I forget, please remind me!). In conjunction with this, I will be attempting to upload as many photos as possible on my new Flickr account as well (http://www.flickr.com/photos/blackhawkbirder/). My best pictures from over the years are on there now, and I hope to update it more in the coming months with not just Colorado information, but also with Sugarbirds and Eremomelas from the Western Cape.
I am off to triumphantly finish my semester now, but will be back soon. Until then, take care, and I hope you all are looking forward to whatever the future may bring as much as I am.