A Lifer in Maine
At the Bangor, Maine ABA convention, on Saturday, June 24, I joined an early morning field trip (4:15 am departure) heading north to the boreal forest in search of boreal birds and creatures. Leaders on m y bus were Jeff Bouton (or Leica) and Stephen Ingrahm (of Zeiss) and Marion Bates, a local ornithologist and avid breeding bird census-maker. When it was discovered that I had my IPod and mad IPod skillz, I was immediately given a field commission to co-leader for the trip.
We drove 1.5 hours north of Bangor, nearly to the New Brunswick border, and spent the day walking along logging roads in the boggy boreal forest habitat. As we stepped off the bus to begin this adventure we immediately found ourselves black with mosquitoes. Bug juice of varying intensities only seemed to discourage them. It certainly did not dissuade them from robbing us of pints of our blood.
On the long drive north, as I dozed in the second row seat, a cry of "MOOSE!" went up. A young moose was tramping along the roadside ditch, and into the woods. I leapt awake, binos at my eyes and saw the huge, hairy mammal. A life mammal for me! Too bad it was gone as the bus whipped past, it would've been nice to photograph it.
Shortly after we got off the bus, a small flock of red crossbills came through the woods. The light was unbearable for photography, but when did that ever stop me?
The two gals above are modeling two very different styles of protective mosquito netting. I would go nuts having to pull a wedding-veil-like hunk of netting out of myt way each time I raised them. But the folks with the netting spent more time watching birds and less time shooing the skeeters from their heads.
This cedar waxwing was most photogenic. Too bad he wasn't bohemian.
We walked for a couple of hours along one logging road, encountering little pockets of bird activity that garnered good looks at Blackburnian warbler, cedar waxwing (above), yellow-bellied flycatcher, white-throated sparrow, and a brief glimpse at some gray jays. Then as I played the black-backed woodpecker call for the last time on my IPod. A lone adult male appearedmy preference for seeing this bird was to see a male with the yellow on his head, and thank my shooting stars and lost lucky charms, that's exactly what we got: and adult male black-backed.
Ahhh! My life black-backed woodpecker! He responded to a woodpecker drumming sound on my IPod. This species is one I have tried to see numerous times in the past. This guy really showed well and soon began preening and loafing. Un pajaro bonita! I oohed and ahhhed as it called, drummed, and eventually flew off, having vanquished its imaginary foe.
Raise your hands in the air like you just don't care! The shake your body, wave your arms, and go "Whoooooooo!"
Congratulations, you now know the proper way to celebrate a life bird!