30 August 2012

After the Storm

Isaac was, amazingly, the least of my troubles this week. From almost the minute after I returned from chasing the Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher in New Orleans, I began to feel ill. I became more and more ill until the storm hit and spent several days of it sleeping and watching Star Trek, recuperating and in no shape for storm birding.

Luckily, today, I was able to muster my strength for a short amount of time and head out to the lake. One of the first birds I laid eyes on was a male Magnificent Frigatebird! I grew excited and tried to get closer, but by the time I had moved 50 meters the bird was gone, and I never saw it again. Worried that other birds might just be passing through at the moment as well, I quickly scanned the lake. A lone Royal Tern cruised the far shoreline, and a lone Least Tern flitted among the buoys in the middle of the lake. Two Laughing Gulls cruised overhead, and as I tried to get a better look at them I could feel my strength fading, and my cough was beginning to worsen once again.

Being sick may have bested me this time, but two new parish birds in one day is pretty good! Next hurricane, I'll be ready...

27 August 2012

Sulphur-bellied Flyaway

Much to the surprise of just about everyone in the state, a Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher was found Friday in City Park, New Orleans! Kevin Morgan and I jumped at the chance to add this elusive bird to our state lists, and left early Saturday morning to see what we could find. Alas, it seems that City Park was but a one-day stop for this enigmatic vagrant, and it was never seen again.

Not to be discouraged, Kevin and I spent a good amount of time searching the woods and trying to see what else we could find. It seemed that every person we talked to had a different list of birds, but we definitely got lucky with a lone Blue-winged Warbler accompanying a flock of Yellow Warblers! I then came home, got sick, and spent the rest of the weekend lying in bet, sleeping, and drinking sprite. C'est la vie. However, I am starting to recover and just in time! Tomorrow night, Hurricane Isaac will be making landfall in Louisiana, and who knows what kinds of awesome seabirds will be brought with it to Baton Rouge...

21 August 2012

Adjusting

Driving southward through Arkansas, I couldn't think of how far I had already come. From the surveys I did near Eastport and Porthill, Idaho in early July, my truck and I had conquered several thousand of miles of road on the way back to LSU, and I had trouble making myself remember those innumerable miles. My mind was focused on the journey ahead, and all the roads I still have to drive in my life. It is still almost hard to believe that I am finally here: the second day of classes is over, Carolina Chickadees and Blue Jays are calling from the Live Oaks around my dorm, and I already have homework to work on. Regardless, I still feel like I have parts in different places. I'm a long way from Africa, and an even longer distance from who I was the last time I was at school, and currently trying hard to find a good graduate school program to apply to. It is, however, off to a good start. It's good to see every familiar face once again, and the calls of Great Crested Flycatchers and Northern Cardinals are slowly sucking me back into a North American mindset. I'm looking forward to birding more, but for the time being, I am still just trying to get my room organized and live-able!

My last adventure was that long drive down, though. I went to the front range of Colorado and visited my high school friend, Kevin, for the weekend. We drove out to Pawnee National Grasslands for a night, and camped near the buttes. The next day we roamed across the plains, finding a dust bowl era cemetery and my lifer Chestnut-collared Longspur near the Nebraska state line. The next day, we continued our catching up by heading high into the Rockies, camping near Idaho Springs and then waking around 5 AM to head up to the top of Mt. Evans. In the pre-dawn darkness, I spotted my first ever White-tailed Ptarmigan on the side of the road, and we then scrambled to the top of the 14,264 foot peak to watch the sun rise over Denver. We talked, joked, and took pictures, but as the sun broke through the haze of the distance and lit the eastern plains, I had the feeling that even though I have no idea what the year holds for me, it's going to be a good one.


03 August 2012

The Setting Summer Sun

I can feel the days growing shorter now, but I still cannot tell if it is because they are truly growing shorter, or if it is because I spent my summer in the states in the wild and rugged mountains of Northern Idaho, where the night was but a few mostly dark hours lacking the shrill surreal sirens of territorial Varied Thrushes hanging in the humid air. My summer was great, but intense. Days of back country working was divided into sections merely by the names of the maps I was using. Forest service section names such as Kaniksu, Clearwater, St. Joe and Coeur d'Alene became more useful for knowing where I was than the actual road and town names, and my spot unit "ok" message was often the only contact I had with the outside world. Once again, I fell behind on my blog from school, work, and everything else. It feels like a never ending cycle of use and neglect, writing about birding and then finding myself overwhelmed by the outside world. I will write as much as I can, but I cannot even attempt to fit the past few months into a post. In what seemed like an instant, I went from enjoying the late autumn nights under the southern cross in Africa to camping alone in the Bitterroot Mountains, watching over my back for the bears and mountain lions that I knew where there.

I put up pictures from my last days in Africa and my days in Idaho at my photo site, and I am sorry I have not been around to share the stories behind them. To those of who still read my blog and hold out for those posts, thank you. I'll write more this fall when I can, but just remember that when I don't write, it's not because I don't want to, but usually because I can't! I'm heading to Louisiana in a week, and looking forward to getting those Carolina Chickadees I've been missing all year.

I'll post when I can, but for now, enjoy the photos (including the Snowshoe Hare near Kooskia, Idaho below!), and I hope the summer has been as busy and productive for all of you as it has been for me!