Adventures in the Great Outdoors

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I have not posted anything for almost a year and I have no birding trips planned for this year at all  so I thought I would just post about something ordinary like birding in winter in California.  Yes, it is technically still winter until March 20, 2013 even though it has been a most spring like winter here in Northern California.  Typically birding in this area in winter is not nearly as interesting as in spring or fall when the migrants are arriving or leaving unless you enjoy looking at Yellow-rumped Warblers or telling the difference between a Long-billed and a Short-billed Dowitcher (now this is one of the reasons most people find birders so eccentric) or squinting into a telescope until you are nearly blind looking at tiny dots far out to sea.  On the other hand winter brings some very charming birds to our area.  For example the […]

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CHIAPAS, MEXICO: March 9-19, 2012 I had never been to Mexico before and I had never been on a birding tour with a group before I signed up to go to El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve in Chiapas, Mexico with Legacy Tours.   What attracted me to this trip was that it involved hiking and camping two things I enjoy in addition to birding.  I didn’t really have any targets or expectations but the experience I had while there was extraordinary and I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to enjoy this very special place with Legacy Tours’ delightful trip leaders Michael Karmody and Jorge and the incredibly nice participants Ron, Bob and Pearl, Bob, Marvin, and Joyce.  I highly recommend Legacy Tours to anyone wanting a special birding experience.  Jorge, the local guide was incredibly skilled at identifying the birds and finding them in thick forest canopy.  But more than that […]

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Ken Archambault invited me to join him on a trip to Ecuador he had planned. Given his eccentricities I was hesitant but after giving it some thought I decided to join. Despite his atrocious behavior, I had a wonderful time on my trip and saw 298 new species of birds, lots of wild life, and met amazing people. We flew to Quito, Ecuador on October 25 and stayed at the Hilton Colon. Ken complained so bitterly about the price of the hotel room that it was easier for me to just pay for his room as a birthday present. It’s the last present he will be receiving from me. On October 26 at 4:45 AM Jonas from WildSumaco came to the hotel and picked us up. He drove us to Yanacocha Trail at 11,500 feet in the Andes. My first bird in Ecuador was a Great Thrush as we drove […]

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I would never live in Minnesota. It has more mosquitoes than Alaska, Texas, Florida, & South Carolina combined. I received so many mosquito bites that my body was nearly one big bite by the time I left. yes, it has many beautiful lakes and warblers galore but man was it hard to tolerate all those biting insects. I spent the first three nights camping at Savannah Portage State Park. It had a lot of birds but there were just too many mosquitoes. On the first night after setting up my campsite I drove back into the town of McGregor to the McGregor Marsh and waited for the sun to set hoping to hear a Yellow Rail. I saw a porcupine as darkness approached. I walked up and town the snowmobile trail but never heard a rail. In the morning I drove up north to Sax Zim Bog. It was raining […]

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I landed in Bangor, ME but immediately made a detour on the back roads of Maine to New Hampshire where I spent the night. It rained all day. I got up early in the morning and drove to Mt. Washington where I met a group who drove us up Mt .Washington in a van before it officially opened. That way we were able to loiter in the road and draw out the Bicknell’s Thrush. It was calling but wouldn’t reveal itself at first. So we walked around a bit admiring the view into the valley and the blooming Lady’s Slippers and Bunch Flowers. Finally a male Bicknell’s Thrush flew out into plain view. Everyone saw it very well. It wasn’t raining and it wasn’t too cold for Mt. Washington (the worst weather in the US). After the tour was over I drove back into Maine all the way to Baxter […]

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On April 15, 2011, I met my sister, Sharon, at the Albuquerque airport and we drove for about four hours from there to the High Plains of Eastern New Mexico for the Tenth Annual High Plains Prairie Chicken Festival in the tiny town of Milnesand, NM. We had dinner at the community center and then set up our tents across the street. We did not sleep well as there was a constant flow of noisy traffic on the road and the camping area. During the night I heard a Great Horned Owl calling and later a Long-eared Owl. We awoke at 4:00 AM to a 35 degree chill and joined a group in a 15 person van for some lek viewing. We arrived at our lek at 4:45 AM and immediately saw a Lesser Prairie-Chicken jump up in the darkness. Even before dawn the chickens began clucking. By dawn about […]

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When my friend, Ken, invited me to join him on a birding trip to Puerto Rico I went out and bought Birds of the West Indies to familiarize myself with the birds there. It seemed like every bird I looked at was on some other island in the Caribbean. Ken said I would be lucky to see 30 new birds and that most people do not see more than 100 total species in a one to two week trip. So my only goal was to see the five hummingbird species found there (and after my arrival I added a goal to see one new species every day of the trip). I asked Ken over and over if we would see all the hummers and he assured me we would. He recommended that I print out and read a trip report by Jennifer Rycenga, a birder we both know from San […]

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August 18, 2010, I took a 6:00 AM flight to Tucson. After arriving I drove around lost for an hour in 102 heat looking for the grocery store. In Target getting some propane I ran into a lawyer I know whose office is one floor below mine. Finally with everything I needed I headed south on I-19 to Madera Canyon. It was hot and muggy and a few drops fell but there were few birds, just a few Cassin’s Kingbirds and Lesser Goldfinches. I hiked a couple of miles up the Old Baldy Trail but didn’t feel that great after getting up at 3:45 AM. I set up a camp site in the canyon at Bog Springs Campground and then walked around Proctor Road for a bit until the sun got too low. Saw Blue Grosbeak with a worm in its mouth. The sunset was spectacular. Back at my campsite […]

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On June 12, 2010, I flew into Anchorage and spent the day looking around there first visiting Kincaid Park. It was windy with more people than birds. I saw only Savannah Sparrow, Common Redpoll, Orange-crowned Warbler, and American Robin. Next I went to Hillside Park but it was devoid of birds entirely. Then I tried Potter Marsh where I saw a Tundra Swan very close to the road, a Muskrat in the marsh and a Moose near the parking lot. There were also Lesser Yellowlegs, Lincoln’s Sparro, Green-winged Teal, Mallard, American Wigeon, Arctic Tern, Mew Gull, and Glaucous-winged Gull. My last stop was West Chester Lagoon where there were nesting Red-necked Grebes, Alder Flycatcher, and Hudsonian Godwit. June 13 my sister and I hiked up Wolverine Peak in Chugach State Park. It was a glorious day for Anchorage reaching 70 degrees and hordes of people were out on the trail […]

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I would have preferred to camp but was too afraid to do so by myself that close to the border. So I stayed at a hotel in Green Valley, AZ. I drove first to Florida Canyon but as it was midday I only saw Hooded Oriole and Bell’s Vireo. I next went to Madera Canyon and hiked up the trail quite a ways where I found Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher and Plumbeous Vireo. Around Madera Kubo there was a Hepatic Tanager, Berryline Hummingbird, Magnificent Hummingbird, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Cassins’s Kingbird. I parked at the picnic area and saw a Painted Redstart in the trees, Acorn Woodpecker, Black-throated Gray Warbler, and Black-headed Grosbeak. White-throated Swifts flew overhead. That night at Santa Rita Lodge the Elf Owl came just after dark and at the upper parking area I heard Whip-poor-wills and Whiskered Screech-Owl. The next day I got up extra early and drove to Ruby […]

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