I and the Bird

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Weak-end in the East

I don't know man I know I started this blog so I could write about all the sweet trips I took and the birds I've found...and this past weekend's trip to Cape May for a pelagic seabirding cruise should have been quite a post. I would have shared lists of seabirds. I would have told an anecdote about my inability to hold down my McGriddle. Perhaps I would have even seen a whale or two and told you about that. That would have been nice.

But, instead, and for the second consecutive week, high winds prevented the trip from proceeding. So, instead, I spent the weekend alone in the EconoLodge in Marmora, New Jersey.

I mean I don't want to sound too much like a complainer but I figure it's better to use this space for honesty rather than bullshit. I did a lot of birding. I saw downtown Atlantic City, Cape May, the 'beanery', Henlopen, Indian River Inlet, Baltimore and rural DelMarVa. I saw three new species (maybe four, I took a picture of what I think is a golden eagle...), pushing my yearlist to either 193 or 194.

But, overall I felt like I wasted my time and, for the first time in a year, was damn sick of birdwatching. I woke up this morning with excitement, thinking that in spite of the cancellation I would tear-ass through Delaware and Maryland and get to 200 anyway. Fired up by a late Delaware RBA, I wrote a list of get-able birds that I had yet to see...fox sparrows at the henlopen feeders, black scoters, red-throated loons, a eurasian wigeon in Ocean City, Eurasian Collared Doves in the middle of Selbyville, snow bunting and longspurs off Cartanza Road...I even booked a spot on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry in hopes at a stray Razorbill or Dovkie.

For the most part all I got was a big big fat 0. I saw long-overdue redthroated loons and black scoters after I got off the ferry in Lewes (I saw almost no birds except surf scoters on the boat). After stopping and getting blanked at Indian River Inlet, I eventually found my way to the Eagle's Nest Golf Course in Ocean City to look for the well-documented Eurasian Wigeon. After a frustrating, cold (there really was a lot of wind) search that involved chasing groups of ducks between water traps, I found my bird (very pretty) and did some fist-pumps.

That was about as good as it got, though. The rest of the day included no eurasian collared doves in downtown Selbyville, no bunting or longspurs in the fields off Cartanza Road (although I did get a strict no-trespassing warning...hey they should have put some signs up...), and no nashville warbler in Carroll Park, Baltimore.

And...that's it. Sorry for the tone. The bright spot of the day was my girlfriend on the other end of the phone giving me directions. Thanks, sorry I was so pissed. I still have an outside shot at getting 200, and I'll keep at it.

[I don't know, it probably has to do more with my slowly getting acquainted with the working world. A man works all week and gets two days to himself, and damned if he doesn't have a lot of things to cram in there. Well I put this trip at the top of everything else and then it gets cancelled because it's too breezy. As far as I'm concerned, the worst fate is disappointment.]

Drivng home from Baltimore I was just tired and cold and frustrated and sick of birds and sick of wasting time. People have been talking about how weak of a winter this was, but I'm finding out how much this season drains a birder. It's painful! It's barren! Wastelands! Many of the birds I saw this weekend were hunkered down behind a breakwater or hidden in the dense stuff or just plain missing, secure in some secret location out of the wind and cold. Whatever, spring is coming. All will be right with the world.
If it's any consolation to you, I recently took a pelagic trip with Paulagics (after seeing it postponed twice) and I can assure you that if it's possible to get out on the water, Paul Guris will do it. On our excellent trip he had more fun than anyone.
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