Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The East and The West

Virginia Lakes, between Lee Vining and Bridgeport. If you want to find Gray-crowned Rosy-finch here, I suggest not going in October...some nice views though.

Nerds! I am overdue for a post. I've been away on a not-birding trip, but due to my incurable and dangerous addiction, I managed to fit some in.

Whether birding or not, coming back from the eastern Sierras to West Oakland is strange. In Lee Vining, no one locks their buddy doesn't even have a key to his house. This is unlike West Oakland, where windows are barred and murders happen with regularity. On the east side, the air is clean, litter nonexistent, and birds like Clark's Nutcrackers and Townsend's Solitaries may be found around town. West Oakland? Every week the neighbors sweep their pile of garbage from the curb in front of their house over to the gutter in front of ours, which we can't do much about because our garbage and recycling cans keep getting stolen. House Sparrows and possums pass for wildlife.

Of course, I don't want to give you the idea that these places have absolutely nothing in common. Cheap, low-quality alcohol is consumed in vast quantities in both places. Whether at sea level or around 7,000 feet, I dispense withering scorn towards outdoor cats, whom are then fawned over and adored by almost everyone else. The harsh calls of Steller's Jays recall the raspy screams of old crackheads.

Even low-key birding can produce surprises...a crippling male Yellow-headed Blackbird stood out like a sore thumb on the lakeshore at South Tufa, Mono Lake.

Right...perhaps these comparisons are ultimately pointless, but I can't help but make them. Moving on, there is good news! For those of you who prefer to read BB&B instead of the news (a wise choice), it looks like the federal government shutdown is finally on the verge of ending...adjust this week's birding plans appropriately. I hope my furloughed friends enjoyed their Indefinite Weekend, but it will soon be time to get back to work...leave the vagrant hunting to me.

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