Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Blinded By Dacnis* And Deafened By Bellbirds

Black Phoebe, Guardian Flycatcher of Rory Jo.

Good news today birders...I have managed to cobble together a plan to compete with Bostick in our 2012 big year competition.. He is almost 40 species ahead of me at the moment, and having fallen behind so much I had only one choice to make...I bought a plane ticket to Costa Rica. Then, and only then, can I cram in enough species to attain ultimate glory. Our respective year lists are not bound by the arcane/prehistoric/arbitrary boundaries of the ABA Area, so anything is fair game. I won't be going until the day after Christmas, and the birding will be thick...considering I haven't birded south of Mexico's Veracruz State, this 3 week stint in Costa Rica will likely leave me without any semblance of a face, for it all will have melted off within 24 hours of touching down. The combinations of yellows, reds, greens and blues of the tropical birds I lay eyes will leave me featureless. Friends will no longer recognize me and, after learning the horrible truth, will compare me to that poor lady who had her face ripped off by a disgruntled chimpanzee. This is the price we pay for birding....or the one I will pay, at least.

I've had pretty poor luck with getting Cooper's Hawk pictures...this adult, for reasons we may never understand, couldn't care less that a couple birders were milling around under it.

Because I have been lucky enough to see a few tropical birds already, there is a slim chance that I will be able to withstand seeing the shimmering tanagers and glimmering hummingbirds (those are descriptions by the way, not actual bird species) without falling into cardiac arrest. However, I have great fear that if I get to see something like a Turquoise Cotinga, Snowcap, Agami Heron or (god forbid) a Resplendant Quetzal, my very existence will probably slip into another dimension entirely, much like what happened to Obi Wan Kenobi after his battle with Darth Vader.

Even if I do survive...I will return spiritually rich, but physically crippled. The Great Ornithologist Felonious Jive may have choice but to put me out of my misery...blinded by dacnis* and deafened by bellbirds, there will be no point in carrying on.

Of course, there is the horrible possibility that Bostick will learn of my plans and simply go everywhere I go. Could he be that sinister? I can imagine laying eyes on a small, wrenthrushian bird for the first time, and I hear "Zeledonia!!!!" in my head....except its NOT in my head, it is Bostick, and he is standing right behind me. That devious bastard! How could he?

Near the bizarrely unconcerned Cooper's Hawk was this bizarrely unconcerned Western Bluebird.

Maybe living in a cemetery makes you considerably less fearful of death and doom.

Aside from Bostick, TPAD Dan and the one who goes by "Stilt" are also planning on meeting me in Costa Rica....I look forward to slaying many a lifer (with my eyes) in their good company.

It is, I think, important to travel...we often cannot put value on things we have not experienced firsthand. Sure your personal carbon footprint gets a lot bigger when you fly, but ecotourism can save habitat, and if enough of us do it that can have all sorts of positive effects on human and avian communities alike. No, you are not saving the world when you go birdwatching...but sometimes it can help.

Until then, I will most likely be spending my time in California, for good or ill. All of today's birds are from Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, an exceptional birding spot during migration, but just a creepy place to be loitering the rest of the year.

* = How do birders pluralize "Dacnis"? I really don't want to catch myself saying "3 Dacnii just flew into that strangler fig!".

Gravestones make excellent places to mark your territory.

Or to kind of weirdly float around.

Hermit Warbler. Yet another rad bird that I am stuck with mediocre photos of.

Calliope Hummingbird. When birders see one of these, their hearts beat fast enough to pace a hummingbird's. Consequently, most birders have severe heart problems afterward.

Western Wood-Pewee. Dapper.

Chipping Sparrow...this pose makes me think of Charley Harper for some reason. Sorry my captions today are lacking in wit and rambly screeds, but I got stung in the face by a bee and I'm too swollen to be creative. Sorry!


  1. YAY!!! re: your impending travel. Vicarious thrills with none of the expense or bug bites for us. Sweet.

    Sick shots!!!

    Pardon all exclamation points, got potentially good news this a.m., so am extra amped. If you are serious re: bee-face, OWWWW. Poor thing. =(

    When I worked at Cabrillo NM (just s. of Ft. Rosecrans), a co-worker was a major runner, so would run through the cemetery every morning as part of his route. I loved the poetry of that. The quick and the dead.

  2. Yeah, a bee got sucked into my car while driving home from work a few days ago...it got me near the eye. Yesterday was Peak Swell, I dosed myself with benadryl last night and its a bit better now.

  3. Sounds like too much fun to miss, perhaps I'll bless myself with a Christmas travel present. I like the "all-world" approach, and birding cemetaries.

    1. The world is like a giant mixed flock...everything you want to see is there, you just have to go to the trouble of picking it all out.

  4. I was thinking of trying to head down to Panama about the same time, but have not made up my mind. Don't forget to look down at the great herps in Costa Rica too. There are tons of them there.

    1. You should probably just go. As soon as I saw a plane ticket for under $600 I snatched it up, I couldnt help myself...cant say it was completely spontaneous though, we've been talking about doing this for a couple months now.

      And yes, I do plan on looking down...as a kid I was a herper before a birder!

  5. Hahahaha she called you "bee-face"!! That's awesome. Congrats on the Costa Rica tickets... Bostick shall go down in flames at the last second, just as he should. I have a Charley Harper address book. I see what you are saying with the chippy fellow. Oh and I don't want to hear your Hermit Warbler whining- that's a great shot and so freakin colorful.

    1. Bostick actually is going, so it will be right down to the wire.

      I will whine all I want about Hermit Warblers, Bittern Lady!

  6. I think Dacnis is both singular and plural....at the same time. Like Deer or Art or whatever.

    Bummer about the bee, but killer about Costa Rica! I guess you already told me a while ago. Push Bostick into a Bullet Ant, then you'll have the advantage!

    1. Yeah thats what I was thinking...have you seen one?

      Ah yes, the Bullet Ant factor...thanks for the reminder.