Saturday, May 24, 2008

Chasin' Chuckie

I decided to do something pretty sick 2 nights ago after finishing up the last blog post ... I biked out after the chuck-will's-widow starting at 1:30 in the morning (well I had to switch my days/nights for the last 2 overnight shifts somehow). It was a calm night with a full moon so I figured I'd have as good a chance of success as anytime. My next night shift isn't for a few weeks so despite the fact I'd already gone 35 miles I told myself I should really go after it. For a little added fun I couldn't help but remember that the local paper claimed a reliable mountain lion sighting along this stretch of road earlier in the year. Oh well, they're more afraid of us than we are of them, right? Right?? I stuck a hatchet in the pack on the back of the bike just in case (seems pretty silly here in the light of day eh?).

The calm night made it much easier to make progress and I made a conscious effort to take it easy given tired joints, so once I got started I made much better progress than I expected. I arrived at Jones road and started slowly working south, eventually hearing the bird on about my 3rd stop. It was pretty easy to hear from the southern section of the road close to the Clear Lake Rd intersection. Buoyed by success I then decided to just go "a little farther" to hit the Randall road site where we had whip-poor-will on birdathon. This turned into about a 10 mile unsuccessful detour that really sapped the legs. I dragged myself to the back of Love Creek to try to hear barred owls, but didn't hear any initiallly. I settled onto a bench to doze and await the dawn and discovered why Survivorman always rails against breaking a sweat. I was cold. I certainly had enough clothes for the temperature but the damp inner layer made it hard to catch any rest. Eventually the owls started calling with some light in the sky. I headed down to the creek (presumably Love Creek) and quickly heard a Louisiana Waterthrush sing a few bars in the pre-dawn gloom.  I headed back to the bike, hearing a mourning warbler, and beat my way home into the wind (dropping off the yellow warb from the day before at Andrews on my way).  I stopped at the Andrews Dairy ponds and discovered that unless you want your water bottles dusted with cow manure, this probably isn't the best place to look for shorebirds (there were a few dunlin and semi plovers).

The chuck, barred owl, and waterthrush brought me to 190 for the year so I can now work on counting down to 200.

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