November 22-30, 2014 St Martin FWI
It seems I am “trapped” here in Paradise, the curse of being in heaven while reports of Honeycreepers go out in Texas, redshanks in Washington, a possible Japanese Murrelet in California among the other reports of Fork-tailed flycatchers, rufous-backed robins…all birds I need but alas…I cannot get…I am here. All I was able to do last night was go to a naked thanksgiving dinner and dance afterwards with the US Ambassador to the island (he was the clothed guy). Maybe I’m looking at my glass half empty?
So what else has the man who could be the most interesting man in the world doing on the friendly island of St Martin? All I can say is that when you are nude birding, you see odd things……..
Many of the stories and anecdotes I either can’t repeat (some are unbelievable) or there just wasn’t or isn’t room for them in my writings. Back a summer ago when I was doing my naked big year, “Boobies, Peckers, and Tits” one of my more quotable stories happened after one of the many odd scrapes I got myself into and this one was in Madera Canyon. I got trapped in a monsoon which did succeed in cleaning everyone save me off a trail and taking advantage of the situation I went ahead to see what I could find. I had stayed the night before in a nude resort in Tucson and for some reason I wasn’t paying much attention on the trail. It was then I walked up on what I thought was a sleeping cougar. At that exact moment my wife texted me to see how birding was going. I like her not to worry about me, so to say I was alive on that day, I texted a quick response…”Having cougar problems, will get back to you.” Now her response was interesting….”Stay away from older naked women!” but alas my cat turned out to be only a tawny bobcat, and I was never in danger.
Well odder sights occur here on Orient Beach than Madera Canyon and I was birding and unlike before I could have easily stumbled upon a sleeping woman….. But alas again, she wasn’t a cougar, just a sleeping naked woman, no biggie where I am, seen hundreds each day, well…maybe not in a tree. So now I’m 0-2 in my cougar walks…okay, bad joke, thanks Howard but one sees some odd things here. In my book I’ve written about some crazy Halloween parties at this place and well it is all in fun.
We did have a nice impromptu guitar sing along to songs from Thompson Square and Hallelujah and then discussed if Leonard Cohen was alive or dead, then we watched the 49er-Seahawk game and we all agreed that the 49ers were definitely dead….dead and buried….sorry fans…go Pack!
My birding was methodical and without much drive. It is past migration here and as such nothing really odd or exciting was found and my overlook is getting a bit overgrown of mangroves for good looks but there was not much to see. It was also a bit buggy. I tallied 32 species and have had over 40 on a trip before albeit earlier in the fall. The place we stay is repairing and rebuilding from Hurricane Gonzalo and many of the Royal Palms have had all their tops broken. But it could be worse, Orient Beach is still here, the umbrellas are yellow and the water was delightful…well after the wind slowed down I did see some interesting birds but no new island birds…well I had seen an American Oystercatcher on an offshore island before but it wasn’t that far offshore and I saw three more while lounging on the beach. It isn’t easy photographing birds where cameras are taboo or expressly verboten as they say in German. The tropicbirds, brown boobies (and not the tanned naked women–yes there is such a bird) and terns could not be photoed but I got some of other species Antillean Crested Hummingbird…female, a very small hummer, I had not photographed before Green throated Carib, the other hummingbird found on the island American Kestral ….we saw this bird take a banaquit later ….then get chased off by a gray kingbird Gray Kingbird Zendaida Dove, a bird in decline on the island Magnificent Frigatebird Black-faced grassquit Lesser Antillean Bullfinch Caribbean Grackle A bird you don’t usually see well here and never in large numbers, I have never photographed one before, A ruddy turnstone Okay, What am I thankful for? It is the season…Googled it and
1. Thankful Leonard Cohen is still alive!
2. I’m thankful for all the birders who birded with me this last year….wretched souls to be forced to spend any time with me. Thor from BC, Jim, my daughter Lena, John Puschock, my wife Silja………besides Doug, Cory, and Scott from St Paul Island, Jennifer from Toronto, and Nan the birder
3. I’m thankful for the 63 ABA life birds that waited around for me to see them so far this year. The Wood Warbler I in St Paul which just about killed Thor and Doug as we almost rolled the Toyota, so thankful for the SUV holding up. The Eurasian Hobby which made a second appearance just for us, since we missed it the first time. A very lucky glimpse of a Kirtland’s warbler as well as a buff-bellied sandpiper. I was also thankful for my sore knee which put me on the back of the pelagic boat out of San Diego in a chair when the Sabine’s gull showed up for a single pass and no one not in the back of the boat saw it.
4. I’m thankful the lump in my arm was an MD over examining something and lucky the nerve damage I sustained was only temporary. Health cannot be overrated
5. I’m thankful for St Martin…..this is the place I went to ..to unwind and hide out from the stresses in life many that I no longer have but I still need places like this. I’m thankful mostly for a wonderful wife of 24.3 years three entertaining and bright children all of which tolerate my eccentricities. I can only be one person…Olaf the large, and unfortunately I do not fit the sensibilities of most people, but for me I fit in just fine.
I guess if you are still reading this you are thankful I’m almost done and I guess I could also be thankful I haven’t ran into a cougar……….a REAL cougar
I got my book for sale here in the gift shop and well sold a couple, so that is good.