Friday, May 20, 2011

The Dirty Sunlight Shines

Somewhere south of Bishop...

I'm sitting here in Billings, Montana, drinking truck stop coffee and listening to Journey. Considering the dumping rain outside, this feels like the best thing I can possibly be doing. The weather is unrelenting. I accomplished almost no birding today, although I did get my year Red-breasted Nuthatch. At one point I thought I passed what I thought was a Golden Eagle on a power pole, took the next exit, and came back to it going the opposite was a Turkey Vulture. How embarrassing. Of course, I didn't realize the next exit was so far back that it would take almost 20 minutes to get back to where this whole debacle started. embarrassing.

I did see a real Bald Eagle though.

Sage of the sage. Horned Lark.

Today's pictures are all from (more or less) California's eastern Sierra(s), which I just left a couple days ago. The west side, which features celeb parks like Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, generally get all the glory...but I'm a big proponent of the east side. The birds are a bit different (the Great Basin essentially comes right up to the base of the mountains), there's less tourists,  and everything is just sort of bizarre. Anyone who's spent much time by Mono Lake knows should see for yourself. It is a desolate, salacious, majestic, obscene part of the world. In search of the area's birdlife, you may find yourself freezing to death on the high peak of Mount Whitney, or being savagely devoured by the brine shrimp of Mono Lake. 

But a word of caution...apparently everyone drives drunk in the Mono Basin, so be an offensive driver.

Photo taken from the same spot as the first.

A male Yellow-headed Blackbird at Grub's wetlands. Yes, The Grub is (allegedly) solely responsible for maintaining water levels at a freshwater marsh. 

The Grub in his natural habitat. An earlier attempt at establishing a coastal population of Grubs is generally regarded as a failure, although with more potential mates the outcome could be different. If you are not acquainted, Grub was the subject of the last Human Birdwatcher Project interview, which can be seen here. The next HBP interview is coming shortly.

Right. I've been chased by storms for almost this whole road trip...although I haven't yet been snowed in, and there are no tornadoes here, so maybe I shouldn't complain. I was planning on going up to Medicine Lake tomorrow, but maybe it will be the long haul to North Dakota instead. Damn you rain gods!!!

At this point it would be good to make some sort of joke about the imminent rapture that is happening this weekend, but I think we just need to remind ourselves that anyone who believes this will happen is truly, profoundly, stupid. If you are unfortunate enough to know any of these people, feel free to ridicule them mercilessly. It's ok because they have smugly been thinking that you are going to hell this whole time.

Pine, Dandelion Siskin.