Saturday, February 20, 2010

I can't keep up, I can't keep up, I can't keep up...


"Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?" - Hunter S. Thompson
Right.  That is the question that we must ask ourselves.  Today we celebrate....er......remember the sad day of Hunter's death....but it's important to know, I think, that he went out on his own terms.  He did almost everything on his own terms.  It's hard to own your own death, you know what I'm saying?  But of course it is his life that was important, not the way he went out.

He was a flamboyant man, and so today we'll deal with a flamboyant bird, seemingly cobbled together from parts of other animals.  A true Dr Seuss creation.  To start off, there's not many pink birds out there.  Apparently, it's just not a practical color.  Here in the U.S. there's only one species that's very widespread that flies the proud pink banner.....the notorious Roseate Spoonbill.  They are largely confined to the Gulf Coast and the southern Atlantic Coast, and appear inland from time to time.  The illustrious Salton Sea in southern California has had a few in recent years, but you can never really count on seeing one west of Texas.  Other than the pinkness, they've got some thick, scarlet legs, a zombie-like greenish balding head, and of course the spoon.  Definitely a bird than can cause massive hemmoraging if viewed at close range.



Although I saw good numbers on my road trip last fall, the only place I was able to get very close to any was at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, where these pictures were taken.  Another reason to go back to Florida, I suppose.  I've also heard that's where people go to die...but that's a whole other issue entirely.



So I decided to do something really embarrassing.....I've started keeping track of all the birds I've seen this year.  Yeah, the year list is back in effect, for reasons I can't entirely explain or even face myself.  I blame two associates of mine who are not only doing a big year.....they are doing a big year together, which is one of the most disgustingly nerdy things I can possibly imagine.  I am gagging as I type this.  However, I'm determined to do it really half-assedly, and not go out of my way and burn a tank of gas just to pick up a species or two.  Last year I estimate I made it to around 400 without trying too hard, but traveling extensively (Midway Atoll, California east to Pennsylvania, south to Florida and back again)....what I can manage this year is entirely dependent on summer and winter work, or where I choose to take a birding vacay if I have the time.

This is officially the last dispatch of BB&B from San Francisco.  I'll be relocating back to Ventura for a few days before I make the big leap over to Tucson, AZ.  Hold it down everyone!



The spoonbill and it's posse.

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