Michigan Bar, California
Well, they say all good things must end and today it did. Despite logic, I continued doing a Big Year using ABA guidelines and with business needs, personal needs and just being tired of it all, I have just finished 365 days of birding.
On October 11, 2013, we flew into Sacramento and immediately stopped at Elk Grove Regional Park from a tip from a guy named Cory at the Whitefish Point Bird observatory in the UP of Michigan………it took a little doing, fifteen minutes but the 6 resident Yellow-billed Magpies were found, bird number #608
I had seen this bird last September near the Bay, but I needed it for this big year and hadn’t got it photographed.
The next day, taking it easy, I saw a tip on Ebird, yea, I know, my nemesis, ebird, and so we went to the home of one big Ecological disaster after another, Michigan Bar, the site of a huge hydraulic mining operation that sorted out 1.5 million ounces of gold from the gravel in the area. It was only ten miles from the Nudist club we were hanging out at, (bad pun?)
The ebird comments were not helpful and I’m not sure the guy was really there as there is no access to the river and the three property owners there are beyond suspicious, way beyond suspicious. We stayed on the road and about a quarter mile across the scariest bridge ever, I spotted a Lewis’s Woodpecker fly over the car, I got out, and started seeing them everywhere, and counted 26 from the road and snapped 100 pictures, there were probably 100, all heading down the hillside towards the river in the scattered oaks. It was like they were having a Lewis family reunion or something.
It was unreal, and so bird #609 was on the list. We read they are scheduled to replace the bridge as it is the worst in Sacramento County. A bridge from nowhere to nowhere, and travelled less, but I guess they got money. We also saw aggressive Acorn woodpeckers chasing and fighting with the Lewis Woodpeckers.
I got pix of a couple of them too. Well having seen my quarry and avoiding being shot at again, we drove off but not before I spotted a photogenic Lark Sparrow
Feeling on a roll, we went up to the Sierras and eventually Lake Tahoe on Sunday, guess what…..everything was closed and locked tight, but seeing there were cars parked everywhere, we jumped the gates no thanks to our asshole government (as we really wanted to go to Yosemite, and it was locked down, too).
We hiked around looking for Mountain Quail or federal officers to either run from or spit at, I am not sure which I would do, but alas we found neither.
We did find a very photogenic red-tailed hawk:
We got laughed at by squirrels:
and I spotted white-headed woodpeckers here at Wright’s Lake and also above Lake Tahoe.
since first seeing them a month ago, I have now seen four.
We ran into Clark’s Nutcrackers, Brewer’s Sparrows, Steller’s Jays, and yes other illegal hikers in our public lands! They closed the parking lots so everyone parked on the narrow roads and blocked traffic, way to go Forest Service!
I also ran into quite a few hunters….we were thinking that it is a good time now to go get that trophy elk or bighorn in Yellowstone….if you get my drift…..So no quail, only quail hunters.
Spent the last day hiking naked around Laguna in Wilton California, spotted many California Thrashers, and even an out of place green-tailed towhee, but nothing new and so in the end I have a 365 day total of 609 ABA birds plus, 29 more Caribbean species, and 2 exotics, not bad I guess, it would have been a world record itself 40 years ago, but not today…many of you birders will certainly think it was a bit paltry, but having had to get birds nude earlier made it hard to chase rarities, and well, I got other things to do, but someday….someday, I will get that Mountain Quail!
So much like this sign announcement, my big year is CLOSED!