Friday, December 31, 2010

Another Banner Year

Red-legged Kittiwake. Buldir Island, AK.

Shit! That was fast. All of a sudden, its over. 2010....done. I give it a B. 2010 was better than average. It's still no 2006 (A+), otherwise known as The Year Of The Ashtray, but it  has been pretty solid. Definitively better than a couple years this decade though. Of course, I'm just talking about big picture stuff here, not birding.....which is what you ultimately are here for.

Right. Y2K10. I got to work in one of my favorite areas to bird (Southeast Arizona), somehow went all the way out to (and survived!) Buldir Island, and achieved Redemption with the Humboldt Brown Rain-Shrike. Like 2009 (when I went out to Midway), seabirds and the remote island experience shaped and defined the entire year, although both times I was only off the mainland for less than 4 months. I am still attempting to wrap my mind around my proclivity to do this to myself. In my mind I can do some serious placemaking in these harsh realms...we'll see if I return to an island scene in Y2K11.

One of the famous Rufous-capped Warblers that lived up-canyon from me this spring. Florida Canyon, AZ.

STRING OF PEARLS! A Slaty-backed Gull makes its way towards Northwest Point. Buldir Island, AK.

32 new birds this year! I have a distinct feeling of Victory deep in my spine, and wonder if I am actually glowing. Because I generally do a poor job at making lists (which is pretty much the most popular thing to do in blogs), I offer you this intimate piece of new birds of the year.


Blue-footed Booby (Mex - a Nemesis Bird, finally defeated)
Common Black-Hawk (Az)
Rufous-capped Warbler (Az)
Montezuma Quail (Az)
Northwestern Crow (Ak)
Trumpeter Swan (Ak)
White-winged Crossbill (Ak)
Arctic Loon (Ak)
Kittlitz's Murrelet (Ak)
Horned Puffin (Ak)
Parakeet Auklet (Ak)
Crested Auklet (Ak)
Least Auklet (Ak)
Whiskered Auklet (Ak)
Thick-billed Murre (Ak)
Red-legged Kittiwake (Ak)
Aleutian Tern (Ak)

This Red-faced Cormorant was a proud parent of triplets. Buldir Island, AK.

I'm not trying to do any horn-tooting or anything, but you should look at the full-sized the icy stare of the auklet. Least Auklet, @Buldir.

Red-faced Cormorant (Ak)
Rock Ptarmigan (Ak)
Easten Yellow Wagtail (Ak)
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch (Ak....long overdue, don't I know it)
Common Redpoll (Ak)
Common Rosefinch (Ak)
Hawfinch (Ak)
Brambling (Ak)
Rustic Bunting (Ak)
Wood Sandpiper (Ak)
Common Sandpiper (Ak)
Red-necked Stint (Ak)
Long-toed Stint (Ak)
Mottled Petrel (Ak)
Brown Shrike (Ca)

Why hello Common Rosefinch, its good to see you too. @Buldir

Missed Birds:

Bean Goose (Ca)
Gyrfalcon (Ca)
Ivory Gull (Ca)
Black-tailed Godwit (Ak)
Snipe Sp. So, I saw 2 snipe while in the Aleutians. One that flushed from the nuclear warhead storage area on Adak Island sounded like a frakkin' Semipalmated Plover, and I have no clue what that was. Most likely, something awesome. The other was on Buldir and didn't call (probably a Common Snipe though). At any rate, Wilson's Snipes are not expected to occur in the Western Aleutians, so whatever they were were probably new to me. Bloody frustrating. In fact, its giving me a nose bleed. Right now. But I digress...

Wood Sandpipers were one of the few expected species at Bean Goose Pond for a couple weeks. I always thought these birds would look extremely similar to Solitary Sandpipers, but they seem easily distingushable. Note golden spangling on the back. @Buldir.

A migrant Common Black-Hawk cruises in the northbound lane of the Santa Cruz River. Tubac, AZ.

The yearlist is at 406, including introduced birds (401 without them). I'm completely satisfied with that, although I will certainly do my best to better that in 2011, El Año Tranquilo.

A few kickass albums that surfaced this year:

Bomb The Music Industry! - Adults!!! Smart!!! Shithammered!!! And Bored By Everything!!!!
The Slackers - The Great Rocksteady Swindle
The Menzingers - Chamberlain Waits
Leatherface - The Stormy Petrel
Forgetters - Forgetters
Defiance, Ohio - Midwestern Minutes

Obviously there were many more winners that came out this year, but these won my affections more than most.  The new Bad Religion and None More Black albums have some great songs too...the sad fact is that I missed out on a lot of albums that came out this summer due to my station on Buldir Island (i.e. Off With Their Heads, Gaslight Anthem, The Gamits) so I am still playing catchup. It's nice knowing there is some great music out there that I can readily get my hands on though.

Lastly, this is where I'll be for about 10 weeks this spring. Swainson's Hawks Bird Observatory in Chavarrillo, Mexico will be my home. I won't be travelling much (mostly standing in one spot looking up), but the birding around town is supposed to be quite facemelty. Really looking forward to that. It invokes a visceral reaction deep in my gut, sort of like my body is getting ready to be wracked by the sight of awesome tropical and subtropical birds. Can't wait! El Año Tranquilo should be a good one.


  1. I think that auklet hypnotized me. Congrats on all the new birds... That Leatherface album is pretty damned good, but pretty much anything Frankie Stubbs does makes me weak-kneed. Hope you have a great new years!

  2. Yeah I didnt get into The Boat until this year...glad I finally made it. So far so good in 2011!