Monday, January 19, 2009

Bang Bang The Bullets Fly

A couple weeks ago, I met up with my dad out in Williams to spend some time at some of the wildlife refuges in the region. We hung out at Sacramento NWR, Colusa NWR, drove by Delevan NWR and hung out at Grey Lodge Wildlife Area. Nothing to write home about in terms of rare birds, let alone bring back to mother, but fun nonetheless. Hanging out next to thousands of ducks and geese never get one point I passed out next to a flock of honking geese, simply because it seemed like a good idea at the time. It was a hell of a lot better than passing out to Catch Me If You Can, which is what I did last night. Highlights were several American Bitterns, about 15 Eurasian Wigeon (plus a token hybrid), 9+ Bald Eagles, plus a few Tundra Swans and Sandhill Cranes. Since my dad has seemed to abandon any youthful aspect of humanity in his life, I was forced to attempt to sleep at godawful early hours, which required me to drink vast quantities of Jim Beam and Olympia in order to fall asleep so early.......I thought it was rather appropriate for Williams, for those who have ever been there.

This was one of the friendliest bitterns Ive had the pleasure of meeting. It ate a tadpole and otherwise just stood around....sounds good to me.

This is a pretty classic scene. Snow Geese and Red-winged Blackbirds, Colusa NWR.


Friendly neighborhood Red-tailed Hawk. Bloodthirsty killer extraordinaire.

Bald Eagle. One of many at Sacramento NWR...this one was eying small children at the refuge's visitor center.

Close-up of the same bittern as above. Classy.

Several potential birding spots in the area were completely closed because they were reserved for hunters only, which bites the big one in my opinion. Birding areas like this, where huge roadside billboards advertise guided snow goose hunts instead of the newest Hollywood blockbuster/shitfest, brings one to think about hunting....its a topic birders, biologists and other wildlife-minded folk have conflicted views about. Is hunting your own food better than buying filthy, factory-farmed meat from Walmart or Safeway? You bet it is. Do hunters bring anything to The Table, the proverbial Big Picture? Of course. It gets people focused on the value of nature and wildlife, not to mention that the average hunter, in terms of pure economics, does a hell of a lot more for habitat conservation than the average birder. But thats not really the whole story. The hickish, conservative, anthropocentric idealism that often (not always) accompanies the hunting culture cannot be overlooked, can it? And how many species of wildlife in the world have been put to extinction or are well on their way there because of hunting pressure or indiscriminate shooting? A hell of a lot.....many thousands. Like most human activities, it can be quite beneficial if done right or brutally catastrophic if left unchecked.

However, there is one aspect of it that everyone can agree on......shooting shit is awesome.


  1. yeah the only time I was ever in Williams I drank Olympia. dude, what you do in the case of the "closed for hunting places" is buy a gun (you know you want to) and then claim you're going in to hunt with it, and then just bird instead. Covert birding. now that's edgy.

  2. Oh OH. that "bittern" looks like a gourd art bird I brought back from peru!