Feb 28, 2017

*!^*&)*@ (and other musings)

Well, here we are again. I always say I'm going to post more on this blog and I never do, so I have decided to give myself some more achievable goals *cough*. The phrase "life happens" is grossly overused, but it also is unfortunately accurate most of the time. Its not that I don't have the ability to regularly keep up with posting on my blog, its that I simply forget about its existence 95 percent of the time.

I apologize to anyone who has followed my blog in the past and was disappointed by the severe drought of posts in recent years. No, scratch that. I'm sorry if you follow my blog, period. Because in this age of instantly updated news and stories and random tidbits, a blog that has, on average, a post a year is quite the letdown. Seriously? One post a YEAR? Yikes. That's truly dreadful.

On that note, here are some pictures from my recent birding adventures. (What, did you think I was going to end on a deep and thoughtful note? Maybe next time...

Western Screech-Owl in Cave Creek Canyon, AZ

Cliff Swallow

The wonderful spot I had training for my field job two summers ago in northern Montana

Some weird guy

I am a great driver, the best. I drive roads bigly

Some wonderful wilderness right outside Missoula, MT, where I am currently going to school

Reddish Egret

Me at 6:00am in the morning Snowy Egret

My first Florida Scrub-Jay!

A nice Florida sunset

Least Sandpiper

Loggerhead Shrike

My wonderful, dorky girlfriend, Sahlea

Prairie Falcon in Las Vegas, NM

A Gate's Pass sunset in Tucson

Baby Javelinas are up there on the cute scale

Lifer Streak-breasted Oriole this January in Portal, AZ

Cactus Wren

Blue-throated Hummingbird

A Great Blue Heron coming down from a bad drug trip

A scattering of rosy finches: a bunch of Brown-capped and one Black Rosy-Finch at the back

Sep 24, 2014

Updates, Updates, Updates

Wow, its been a long time since I've posted on here! I should really try to change that.

I've had quite the 2014 (I think my last post was from December of last year) and have much to update you on. For starters, I started college at the University of New Mexico, and have already finished my fifth week (time flies). I spent the summer on Cape Cod (in Massachusetts), and did an internship with Mass Audubon monitoring Piping Plovers. I learned so much, and decided that all my future jobs have to include spending long hours on the beach watching baby shorebirds.

Least Tern egg

Willet eggs

More pictures soon!

Dec 28, 2013

Point Reyes CBC - 2013

This year I had the privilege of participating in the Point Reyes Christmas Bird Count - a lifelong ambition of mine. My cousin Whitney happens to live near Point Reyes and has done the count for about the last 6 years. As some of you may know, I also organize/compile the Las Vegas, NM Christmas Bird Count every year with my dad. This year, we did our count on December 14, and the Point Reyes CBC was on Dec. 21, so it worked out perfectly. I few out to San Francisco on the 20th ad was picked up by my cousin. After a wonderful dinner, we sacked out for the night at a lovely little B&B near Point Reyes.

The only negative part of doing bird counts like this is the reality of getting up at some ungodly hour to go birding. But its all worth it in the end. Especially when you're dong the Point Reyes CBC. We woke up at 5:30am and met up with the rest of our group at about 6:00am. We started the day birding at a local farm owned by a family who has allowed access to their property for the CBC each year. We walked about 4 miles out to Drake's Head and had a wonderful lunch of crackers, cheese, and prosciutto. The highlight of the day was a Eurasian Wigeon, which we spotted in the large lagoon we were hiking parallel to. Other notable birds were a Marsh Wren, Peregrine Falcon, Golden Eagle, and Savannah Sparrow. We ended the day with 71 species, which was in fact on the low side, compared with most counts for this particular area. Nevertheless, it was a very impressive day in my eyes.

The end of a long day of birding.

Jul 28, 2013

Some Updates

Hello everyone!

I've been very remiss in my blogging duties of late, but here are a few quick updates on the goings-on of the Bird Nut.

Since my trip to southern Mexico this past December, I completed 11th grade (yay!), visited Prescott College in northern Arizona, and did some birding. Nothing too extraordinary, but I got to go to Cape Cod and see my aunt and uncle (and do some fishing) and also did some bird surveys in northern New Mexico with some friends of mine. Both were very fun in their own right, especially getting to go back to Cape Cod and soak up some nice humidity (I'm from New Mexico, remember). I participated in an epic battle with a Bluefin tuna that lasted over 4 hours (yes, really), and resulted in a snapped line and 4 very worn-out guys. I say participated because I only reeled it in for about 20-30 minutes, after which my arms felt like jelly. Nonetheless, it was quite an experience, and one I will never forget (my arms won't forget either).

Without further ado, here are some pictures (because who wants to read a boring post about my life without some extra entertainment):

Oh, and I took all these pictures with my iPhone, so the quality will be a bit worse than usual. As you will notice, there are no bird pictures (excluding one). That is because it is rather difficult to take close-up shots of birds with an iPhone. Trust me on it.

Fenway! We (my sister and I) joined our aunt and uncle for a Red Sox game on our first night in Massachusetts. They lost, but we still had a wonderful time.

I can't write a post about Cape Cod without including a beach shot. I mean, come on!

I very distant and blurry picture of several Black-bellied Plovers. This is the result of taking a picture through binoculars, with an iPhone. Its a bit tricky, to say the least.

While we were out fishing, we got the chance to see a lot of these guys (Humpback Whales) and some came very close to the boat. Beautiful creatures.

Another whale shot.

This is where I did Rosy-Finch surveys for a couple days in late July. It was at about 13,000 feet, and simply gorgeous. 

We didn't see any of our target species, but the views more than made up for the lack of Rosy-Finches (in my opinion, anyway).

I will hopefully be making another post quite soon about a certain trip to California in just 5 days time.

Stay tuned! ;)

Jan 8, 2013

¡México: Otra Vez!

Well, I had always hoped to visit Mexico again after spending four months there on my family's yearlong trip, and I got my wish this year!

Its been my dad's dream for quite a long time to take his family down to Oaxaca for Christmas and this year we finally made this dream a reality. We boarded our plane in Denver on December 17th and approximately 8 or 9 hours later we landed in Oaxaca City (after a layover in Mexico City). Despite the fact that we had to get up at an unseemly hour in the morning for our first day of Spanish school (the same program we went to during our last visit to Oaxaca), me, Teslin, and our dad decided to visit a local market before going to bed at 1:30am. Ouch.

Instituto Cultural Oaxaca (our Spanish school for two weeks)

ICO Grounds
We somehow managed to get up the next morning and tottered down to the school at around 8:00am (not too bad, after all) and took our placement tests. I must have accidentally sucked all the Spanish out of my brain a while back, because I could hardly remember anything. After I finished all I could of the test, I was placed in a level below my mom (A2, to be exact).

There's not much to tell about the Spanish school: it was loads of fun, and I learned a good deal of things, and reviewed some Spanish I already knew. My sister, mother, and I spent two weeks studying here, and my sister and I went to classes from 9:00am-12:00pm, while my mom took morning classes along with a private afternoon class. In the afternoons, we would all go eat at one of the restaurants near the school and in the evenings we would often walk down to the Zocalo (a large plaza). The food was amazing, and often very inexpensive, and the culture was similar to how I remembered it five years ago; but busier and with less street musicians.

On Christmas Eve we joined some of our fellow I.C.O classmates and ate at a wonderful rooftop restaurant a couple blocks off the Zocalo. Along with some yummy food, we were treated to multiple church processions and bands parading down the street near the restaurant. I can easily say that this was one of the most unique Christmas Eve's that I've ever experienced.

Great-tailed Grackle

Santo Domingo Church

But that was just Part 1 of the trip. Part one was the cultural part, part two was the insane birding part!

After two weeks of eating way too much, doing Spanish school, and walking around Oaxaca, we hooked up with a local bird guide with the name of Roque Antonio (I'll leave a link to his site on the bottom of this post). We had birded with him on our last visit to Oaxaca and had a great time, so we thought that we might as well bird with him again! He picked us up from our apartment in Oaxaca City early on the morning of December 30 and we started the long drive from Oaxaca to Palenque. Along the way, we stopped at numerous stops along the road, and saw lots of interesting birds (plus dozens of new life birds for me). We drove through various habitats and ecosystems, and ascended up to almost 3,000 meters, before dropping down again to about sea-level. Some of the primary habitats we traveled through were high desert, pine forest, cloud forest, and mixed rainforest. The diversity of birds was very impressive, especially at a couple particular pull-outs.

After a day of very productive and interesting birding, we spent then night in Tuxtepec, a city in eastern Oaxaca, near Tabasco. We all had a good nights rest, and then got up early again the next morning and continued on to Palenque. Along the way, we stopped a few pull-outs by the road and looked for waterbirds and raptors in the lowlands through Tabasco and western Chiapas. The birding was a bit slower than the previous day, but we still saw a couple specialties, including Pinnated Bittern and Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture (both life birds). We reached Palenque in very good time, arriving at about 1:30pm, and were able to sign into our hotel soon after arriving. That afternoon we birded a bit south of Palenque, and then had an early night. I almost forgot it was New Year's Eve until I had just about fallen asleep!

The next few days we birded around Palenque-at the ruins and on the road- and drove east of Palenque all the way to the Campeche border. We saw many birds we had seen before in our last visit here, but also lots of new ones. Some highlights included Double-striped Thick-knee, Red-throated Ant-tanager, Gartered and Black-headed Trogon, Black-collared Hawk, Long-billed Gnatwren, and White-collared Manakin.

Palenque Ruins

Me and Roque (our guide)

Roadside Hawk

Black-collared Hawk


Keel-billed Toucan

Northern Potoo

Black-collared Hawk

Scrub Euphonia

On the last couple days of our trip, my dad and I went down to Bonampak with Roque. Teslin and my mom opted to stay at Palenque and vegetate by the pool at our hotel. :p

The drive down to Bonampak took about two hours, and we stayed at the same exact place that we camped during my family's yearlong trip. Its still a beautiful spot, with a river running right by the campground. We stayed in one of the new cabins that had been built since our last visit. That afternoon, and the next morning, we walked along the road near the campground, and walked along the road going into the ruins. The weather was similar to that in Palenque, but a bit dryer and hotter. We saw many birds, and most of them new as well. Green Honeycreeper, Sepia-capped Flycatcher, Royal Flycatcer, Barred Antshrike, Golden-hooded Tanager, and Blue-black Grosbeak were just some of the specialties we saw.

Magnolia Warbler

Golden-hooded Tanager (hard to see, near the middle; green back)

Gray Catbird

Scarlet Macaws (but tame, alas)

Collared Aracari
After birding in Bonampak for a day, we returned to Palenque and joined the girls for a bit of time in the pool, and explored the hotel grounds (which were pretty interesting). My mom, Roque, and I returned one last time to the Palenque ruins the next morning before leaving for Villahermosa. There, we said goodbye to our amazing guide Roque, and spent the night at a hotel, before leaving on an early flight to Mexico City in the morning. We were supposed to get a flight out of Mexico City at 10:20am, but we had some problems with our reservation with AeroMexico, so we had to leave at 2:00pm instead. Sooo, we all puttered around the Mexico City airport for a while and finally arrived in Denver around 5:30pm. As a last adventure for our trip, we went out and saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in HFR 3D (which was quite spectacular I might add).

And that's that! It was great to return to Mexico and see all the places we visited on our trip, and even more enjoyable because of our great birding guide, Roque. If you're reading this Roque, thank you so much!

Here's the link to Roque's website, as promised: http://www.mexonline.com/oaxacabirdingtours.htm

¡Hasta Luego!

Home in New Mexico!

Home in New Mexico!
Las Vegas

Common Black Hawk

Common Black Hawk
Rio Lagartos, Yucatan

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl

Pale-billed Woodpecker

Pale-billed Woodpecker
Kalakmul ruins

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk
In my backyard-Las Vegas,NM

Me on Hermit's Peak

Me on Hermit's Peak
Las Vegas, New Mexico

Zia Being Cute

Zia Being Cute