Adventures in the Great Outdoors

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Albuquerque is a city with no soul– a slightly dangerous and depressing place. Even the Whole Foods was small and inadequate, though it appeared to be the hang out for the local alternative people. I only went there to drive up to Sandia Crest to look for Flammulated Owls but was so tired by the time the sun set that I left before hearing one. Before the sun went down I drove to the summit and saw many Broad-billed Hummingbirds at the feeders. I lost the muff to my camera’s microphone which was annoying because it was extremely windy the entire trip. Around the trees there were lots of Plumbeous Vireos, Warbling Vireos, Black-headed Grosbeaks, and some Western Tanagers. I camped at a noisy campground where there was only a White-winged Dove to look at and left early in the morning driving four and a half hours to the Gila […]

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After arriving in Anchorage on June 20, 2009, Sharon, Susan, and I first drove up to the Arctic Valley where a wedding was taking place. It was windy and cold but we trudged up a very steep trail to some rocky ledges where I was hoping to find a White-tailed Ptarmigan. There were no Ptarmigans at all just some Orange-crowned Warblers, Alder Flycatchers, Fox Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, and Wilson’s Warblers and lots and lots of wildflowers mostly Wild Geraniums. It took a long time to carefully descend from the steep gravel hillside without tumbling all the way down on our backsides. Back at the base we found a picnic area across from the ski area. It was so windy we had to boil the water in the bathroom. We ate quickly to escape the awful wind and drove down the mountain to Potter Marsh. We looked in the marsh from […]

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On May 21, 2009 I left work in the afternoon and took a long miserable flight with a three hour layover in Salt Lake City, to Anchorage, AK. My plane didn’t arrive until 1:00AM. I had no time for anything but to find my hotel in Anchorage. May 22, 2009, I got up as early as I could and drove to the Westchester Lagoon in Anchorage where I was hoping to see a Hudsonian Godwit. It was low tide and there were only Arctic Terns and Mew Gulls on the islands and Red-necked Grebes in the lagoon. I walked the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail to the railroad depot but there were nothing but Orange-crowned Warblers and no shorebirds on the mudflats. I had no spotting scope to scan and anything out there would have been too far. So I left and headed to the airport where I was to meet […]

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North Dakota June 21-29, 2008 I flew into the Bismarck Municipal Airport on the first day of summer. It was a beautiful day in North Dakota.  I went  to the tiny town of Tuttle to a side road off of Highway 3. There were some Grasshopper Sparrows, Vesper Sparrow, Bobolink, and some other things but it was the complete opposite direction of my campground so I soon left and headed back west to Cross Ranch State Park. On my way back west on I-94 I nearly ran over a Sharp-tailed Grouse crossing the interstate. A few minutes later I was pulled by a North Dakota Highway Patrol for going 82 MPH in a 75 MPH zone.  He wrote me a warning ticket and followed me for 20 miles. I arrived at Cross Ranch State Park and set up my tent in a fantastic camp site well away from anyone else […]

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NOME, ALASKA

Nome, Alaska June 7-14, 2008 There are no roads to Nome, Alaska; you can only get there by plane or boat. I took a plane from San Francisco to Seattle, Seattle to Anchorage, Anchorage to Kotzebue, and Kotzebue to Nome. I had a four hour lay over in Anchorage and so I walked out of the airport and went for a walk. My friend, Ken, had told me about a trail nearby but I had left the house that morning without time to download the directions and so I just walked toward Cook Inlet. It took me a long time to get to Cook Inlet but across the inlet I could see the top of 20,320 foot Mt. McKinley, the highest point in North America. I could also see downtown Anchorage in the opposite direction. But then it was time to turn around and walk back. I saw a Black-billed […]

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Michell Brodie, Bird Buccaneer, Goes to Florida April 19 – May 3, 2008 On April 19, 2008, I caught a plane that left San Francisco at 6:00 AM and yet the man across the aisle from me still managed to drink four beers before landing in Atlanta! Both that flight and my connecting flight to Tampa, Florida were early so it was an auspicious beginning to an amazing trip to Florida. Tampa is very convenient; there is a Target (for propane and bug spray), a Whole Foods Market (for good food), and an excellent beer shop (for obvious reasons) all in the same shopping area just minutes from the airport. After finishing all my preparations there was no time left for anything but to drive to my camp for the night at Little Manatee River State Park in Wimauma, FL. Just driving in I saw a Roseate Spoonbill fly over […]

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Durban & Kruger National Park December 13, 2007 – December 21, 2007 We left London on the evening of the 12th and arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa the morning of December 13, 2007, where we met Susan’s brother, Martyn. The airport was utter chaos. The conveyor belt wasn’t working on the luggage carrousel and throngs of people were climbing onto it trying to get their luggage. We finally collected our things and then met Martyn and his two kids and flew from Johannesburg to Durban, a coastal town on the Indian Ocean. We drove from Durban Airport to Umhlanga Rocks, to a large flat owned by Martyn’s in-laws, overlooking the Indian Ocean. I looked out the cab window on the drive from the airport with extreme sadness as we passed large tracts of shanty towns. Once in Umhlanga everything changed as we entered white South Africa, a swanky resort town […]

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Every fall thousands of ducks and geese either come to California’s Central Valley to winter or pass through on the Pacific Flyway, the major west coast migratory route. Early December is time for my annual pilgrimage to see this amazing spectacle. I got a late start on Saturday which was fine because by the time I arrived at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge in Colusa, CA the sun had warmed things up a bit. It can get very chilly in the Central Valley in winter. I stopped in Dunigan to get some gas and while pumping spotted a Ferruginous Hawk circling overhead. That was a good find as they are only seen a few times per season. Indeed it was the only one I saw the entire weekend. Normally I would have driven all the way to the much more well known and well regarded Sacramento NWR but due to […]

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Thanksgiving Day we drove straight from Salt Lake City Airport north 50 miles to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. I was disappointed in the low numbers of waterfowl there. However, straight away we saw a Rough-legged Hawk flying and then perched in a dry field. I could hear Sandhill Cranes creaking and then saw a flock of about 40 or so circling overhead. In the areas with water there were many American Coots, a few American Wigeons, Gadwalls, Northern Shovelers, Pied-billed Grebes, Eared Grebes, and many Ring-billed Gulls. A few Bonaparte’s Gulls were also fishing in the river. Toward the end of the auto tour we came across a few Tundra Swans and some Canada Geese. A Ring-necked Pheasant shot across the road no doubt avoiding all the hunters. Just before leaving the refuge we spotted a Northern Shrike on a post. Back out on I-15 we saw a […]

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