Monday, December 22, 2008

Hard Drive Bites the Dust

So, my laptop's hard drive died last night. I'm obviously thrilled. Guess posting pictures on here will have to wait, since my external hard drive isn't compatible with this compy.

No birding today, but I'm enjoying the three birding books I got last night as an early Christmas present. I thought I'd start summarizing some of my past birding "adventures" while one of our cats, Merk, naps in my lap.

It all kind of started this summer before our family cruise to the west coast of Mexico. I hit the town library about a week before we were scheduled to leave, planning on getting a general feel for the flora and fauna of the areas we'd be visiting. I was especially excited for snorkeling, since in the past I've had a blast snorkeling in the Caribbean. And, this time my boyfriend's family was lending me a camera and an underwater case for it so I could photograph all the fish my little heart desired (they spoil me rotten). I got a general idea of the birds I might see in Mexico, but it wasn't until we were actually there that something just clicked. Brown Pelicans, Magnificent Frigatebirds, and I even sniped a few pictures of a Hooded Oriole (I'm very proud that I even spotted him to begin with).

I also got to see Heermann's Gulls, which I thought were quite pretty as far as gulls go (I think I've seen too many fast food parking lot gulls, and now I'm a little prejudiced towards gulls in general). I try to keep in mind that they're not all like that, and that the ones that are, are simply adapting to what we've done to their environment.....I think.

I almost forgot about the two West Mexican Chachalacas we spotted near the beach in Puerto Vallarta where we went snorkeling!

Once we got back from the cruise--forget about it. I was hooked. I went birding at a few local parks and forests, my backyard, and the neighborhood pond armed with only my aging PowerShot camera and the $20 binoculars I bought on the cruise ship. The first all-day birding expedition I went on was to Plum Island and Parker River NWR. I didn't realize at the time what a great place that was to start at. Since then I've seen Parker River included in several lists of the "Best 100 Places to Go Birding in the US" and similar lists. I went with my Dad and borrowed my grandmother's binoculars for the trip. It hadn't been long, and I didn't know what I was doing at that point, but I still managed to see several new species on that trip, including a Common Eider. Walking the beach we spied him resting on a seaweed-covered rock at low tide. Through the binoculars I could just barely make out that distinctive Eider bill shape, that forehead that goes into the bill in almost a straight line. I'd been flipping through my guidebook, and thought the Eiders were pretty--I wanted to see one. So, off the socks and shoes came, and I slowly began picking my way closer to the bird through the slippery rocks. I got decent pictures with my elderly camera, but withdrew from the water as soon as a sea snake/worm looking thing wriggled by my foot. I'll post the picture of it later, it was pretty scary-looking.

About a month later I went back to Parker River during the height of the Tree Swallow migration. That was another excellent trip, and I can't wait to visit there again during spring break.

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