Final ABA Update, #609, October 15, 2013

lewis woodpecker 4

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

yellowbilled magpie

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.

lewis woodpecker lewis woodpecker 3 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.

acorn woodpecker acorn 2

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

lark saparrow

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).

lauren sacramento 1002 (2)

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:

redtailedwright lake

We got laughed at by squirrels:


and I spotted white-headed woodpeckers here at Wright’s Lake and also above Lake Tahoe.

white headed woody2 white headed woody3

since first seeing them a month ago, I have now seen four.

sparrows clatks nutcracker

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!

western meadowlark

western meadowlark bridge

the scary bridge tricolored bbird

blackbirds lauren sacramento 1005 (2)

So much like this sign announcement, my big year is CLOSED!


5 thoughts on “Final ABA Update, #609, October 15, 2013

  1. Let me just say this to anyone thinking of doing a really big year…..just say NO….don’t do it………….Marriages, jobs, children, even a life, everything is in the way, the best way is to have a motor home and start out in South Texas and work yourself west then east and when you get enough rare bird alerts, you have to fly………with nothing to bother you, and say, 70K, 700 birds is easy, but it is still work, climbing mountains, up every day at 5, maybe 4,

    Say you got a day planned for lesser Prairie chickens and blizzard comes in…..had to make a second trip, rain in Phoenix scrubbed at least one bird….all of these extra trips cost money and planning ahead is needed to save money, so 70K may be light on the real cost to get 700, thinking you need three ALASKA trips.

    seasickness, accidents, flight delays, weather, I never once got sick the last year, injuries, I got those… is not easy

    some things to think about

  2. Impressive photos Olaf….You wont believe this but a yellow beak magpie has been catching my attention right outside my office window at home….I am studying at the computer and this magpie is dancing around bantering for my attention….I finally realize this is the bird you went looking for in Elk Grove….Dah!
    Loved seeing you ,Sil and my newest favorite 13 year old….Lena. What a cute personality she has….See you in a couple of weeks…

    • I never claimed this was a rare bird, neither were just hadn’t seen them within the 365 days of this year, the magpie is isolated to generally the San Joachim valley in California, the Magpie found elsewhere is the black-billed magpie

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