Friday, April 1, 2011

Same Cars Same Clothes Same Desires Same Woes

The scintillating Green Violet-Ear.

I know a handful of you reading this have been to an official hawkwatching site, like the one I am currently betrothed to. Those of you that have know that the counters have every possible feature of the surrounding landscape named, in order to make it simpler to point out flyby raptors to other observers. Here in Chavarrillo, not only is my Spanish a mockery, I also don’t know anything about the landscape around me, despite a myriad of hills, peaks, bizarre buildings, sprawling trees, etc...I have no references beyond "that tree" and "that hill", which is bloody boring. So in a birdless period of the day recently, I decided I should step up my game and start naming shit….there is, at least, one other person here who knows what I’m talking about, as everything is in English. Here is a list of some of the features and the appropriate etymology….

The Galactica – An antennae that sticks up from somebody’s house that often points at large kettles of hawks and vultures. The Galactica is the center of the epic Battlestar Galactica series, widely known as being one of the best television series of all time.

The Pegasus – Another antenna, and the other Battlestar that survived the Cylon attack.

The first big hawk kettle of the spring...Swainson´s Hawks and Turkey Vultures.

Antilles’ Tower – The large radio tower nearby, which is the tallest structure in town. There are never any interesting birds above it, on it, or near it, but it’s a good reference point. Named after Wedge Antilles’ daring attack on the first Death Star, when Luke Skywalker ordered him: “I’ll worry about the fighters, YOU worry about that tower!”.

Humpback (Whale) – This distant hill resembles the dorsal fin of a humpback whale. Every now and then a Cooper’s or Sharp-shinned Hawk will venture in its direction, but its generally birdless.

The Killing Tree – The tree close to the observatory that frequently holds the most interesting birds, including a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl from time to time. The Killing Tree is also a short-lived but awesome hardcore band that was around 8 or 9 years ago.

Black Vulture. Commonest bird here. They´ve got some steez though...

China – A clump of tall bamboo that lie under migrant accipiters and the occasional big kettle of Buteos. The ethics of this name is questionable at best, but I would like to point out that I am half asian and thus am allowed to take such liberties.

The Decline of Western Civilization – This is the long, sloping, western end of the large hill (mountain?) complex that we live at the base of. It gives birth to many thousands of birds on a daily basis. I also think this refers to a Germs album, but I could be mistaken...

St. Mary – St. Mary has always been an important name in my life, for reasons I don’t completely understand…its been everything from a good Rancid song to an indispensable friend to my home, and much more. At the moment it is still my favorite dive bar in San Francisco…..anyways, St. Mary is one of the looming (I use that term loosely) peaks nearby.

Mount Grubocculus – I shouldn’t attempt to explain The Grub to anybody. But he likes Mexico and leans heavily upon Saint Mary in reality, as the local Grubocculus does.

The Taint – The long saddle linking Grubocculus and The Generator. The Taint has not done anything particularly bad to earn this dubious title.

The Generator – The tallest peak nearby. When kettles of hawks boil up from behind the Generator (one of Bad Religion’s best songs), it is a sight to behold.

Accelerator – The peak immediately east of The Generator. A Dwarves’ song.

Where Eagles Dare – The last peak distinct enough to warrant naming. Also one of the best punk rock songs of all time, recorded (of course) by the Misfits. Clearly, if we record any sort of eagle this spring, it will be over this hill.

Flatliner – The small plateau between Where Eagles Dare and Fickle Hill. Also a decent up-and-coming Fat Wreck Chords band.

Fickle Hill – Fickle Hill has a supernatural counterpart that lies just east of Arcata, California. Although Mexico’s Fickle Hill is traversed on a regular basis on the way to El Cerro, its mysteries and powers so far remain latent. It is likely related to all the local UFO reports, however.

El Cerro – The most famous landmark nearby. Thousands of vultures and other raptors appear over and beside it on daily. The raptor banding station is located at its peak. The only Swallow-tailed Kite recorded this spring put in a brief appearance over El Cerro…of course this was a bird I managed to miss… is pain….

Home Tree – Home Tree, unfortunately inspired by Avatar, is a massive tree on a ridge that spurs north off El Cerro. It is by far the largest tree viewable for miles from Chavarillo and a crucial reference point for big kettles that gather nearby.
La Palma – The humble palm tree in town that seems to exude kettles of raptors.

Sloth the cat, doing what he does best.
The Red-billed Pigeon Tree – Adjacent to La Palma, this tree always has one or two Red-billed Pigeons every morning and evening, and long lines of migrating Turkey Vultures and Swainson’s Hawks behind it.

Altamira Tree – A big verdant tree west of the tower that is one of the few that attracts Altamira Orioles in the neighborhood. I thought about calling it the “Altamira Orihole” or even the “Altamira Gloryhole”, but lets face it, that’s just too fucking much.

Old Dead Tree – It’s a tree that looks dead. Pretty impressive huh? Also a rad older Defiance Ohio song.

Fon Du Laac – A big hill adjacent to Humpback. Birthplace of beloved Jamie Hawkins.

There are a number of legitimately named mountain peaks and towns in the distance that are perfectly good reference points, but is so smoggy and hazy all the time that they are practically useless when it comes to pointing out birds.

By the way, sorry to everyone for not responding to comments on internet time is very limited and I actually have to leave town to get an good enough connection for a blog there you have it. Keep the feedback coming though, it is quite nourishing. Nerd noms....


  1. Where Eagles Dare is also an awesome Iron Maiden song. I'm not too sure if you're into the older Metal, but you should check it out anyway.