Saturday, April 3, 2010

Did You Give The Devil His Due? Did You Give The Heavens A Warning?

(un)Common Black-Hawks soar over the Santa Cruz River at Tubac.

I’ve been toiling in the mountains of southeast Arizona for over a month now.  I have toiled in the Santa Ritas.  I have toiled in the Huachucas.  I have toiled in the Catalinas.  I have walked (as opposed to toiled) along the San Pedro and Santa Cruz rivers, all in the name of The Almighty Dollar.  That’s right people, I’m only in this for the money.  And pretty soon, Imma be up in the club, doing whatever I like……

Who said that?  Pop culture references aside, lets talk about something else.  Let’s talk about……The Grub.  The Grub is perpetually interesting to talk to, and to talk about.  It is difficult to be bored with this topic.  You may remember we here at the Human Birdwatcher Project interviewed him to get his thoughts on birdwatchers everywhere…to mixed reviews, as always.  For much of the last year he has embarked on a great journey called a “long-term relationship”, which has now officially lasted longer than any defined romantic relationship I’ve ever had.  Yes, it does occur to me that this could be perceived as worrisome, but that’s where the sports bra comes into effect….

Side note.  To ya’ll who don’t understand my sports bra concept, don’t worry about it.  Inside college joke. 

A dead mouse that was thrown on our roof for the resident ringtail was never eaten, and is still decomposing.

Anyhow, The Grub has a similar lifestyle to seasonal wildlife biologists like myself.  He works from April to October for the Forest Service, and does Nothing (note capitalization) for the rest of the year.  Yes he travels some, but mostly he does Nothing, which takes place in Mono City, California, just northwest of famous Mono Lake.  It’s like a hibernation of sorts.  In the warmer months, he is a janitor, and does a good mix of menial tasks, unnecessary driving, and complicated things he doesn’t understand.  For example, he almost single-handedly manages the water levels of the only freshwater wetland site in Mono Basin.  I have seen this place…..good birding.  He also spends a substantial amount of time in Bodie, the semipopular ghost town north of the lake and east of Highway 395.  This requires him to view obscene numbers of Sage Grouse in the summer, as they congregate every morning in the middle of town on summer mornings.  This causes me great pain, since I’ve never seen one…..

There is also a mine shaft he visits, but this is not the forum to discuss such business.

Behold the mighty Gray Flycatcher.

To many, The Grub is a ramshackle, disgusting character who wallows in bad beer, cheap whisky and his own filth.  And let’s face it….that’s hard to argue with.  But he knows the value of not working (even while on the job) and living in tune with the seasons, which is hard to find in a lot of people.  They (you?) have been successfully reprogrammed to believe that human beings have evolved to spend most of their waking life doing what other people tell them to do.  “A good job” is a crucial part in most people’s bastardized renditions of The American Dream…….which has its merits, but misses the point entirely…..

Just something to ponder.  We just got some more rain and snow, which just might extinguish my soul.  I have developed an acute hatred for snow.  The Grub would understand.  Despite the bleak and treacherous weather we’ve had this spring, birds are beginning to return…..on Thursday I saw my first Dusky-capped and Ash-throated Flycatchers, Bell’s Vireo and Nashville Warbler of the year.  Friday had my first Swainson's Hawk, and today had my first Cliff Swallow (?), Flame-colored Tanager (!) and Northern Beardless Tyrannulet (@#$!) of Y2K10.  They herald better times.

Shameless nerds...aka my coworkers.

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