My plan for this weekend was the 2 day, overnight pelagic out of Cape Cod, MA. This is an almost slam-dunk for White-faced Storm-Petrel, as well as other rarities; I've had Great Skua on this boat in the past, and not been on the boat when they got Little Shearwater. Anyway, that's all academic now, since the weather was so bad today the boat didn't go out - and it's not going to be rescheduled. A similar fate befell John Vanderpoel in his big year. Pelagic birding is so hit and miss - with usually more of the missing than the hitting.
So, I spent most of this morning all over Expedia, mainly to reassure myself that I'm still actually birding and doing something vaguely productive. I'm heading down to Hatteras again this evening. They didn't go out today - bad weather - but hope to go tomorrow. If they do go, there's still a chance for White-tailed Tropicbird and Herald Petrel, as well as White-faced Storm-petrel. This would be my last east coast pelagic this summer, so any of these would be last chances.
After that I'm coming home and packing for Alaska. I've managed to travel most of this year with a shockingly small amount of luggage (most of which is my telescope) - which means if you've seen me a second time I'm probably wearing the same thing you saw me wearing the first time. And probably slightly smellier. This time though, after freezing in the Pribilofs during the "spring", I'm taking more stuff (ski pants and even more layers.) I'll either need bigger bags (although I'm approaching the limit on raised eyebrows from air stewards and actually getting my bag into the overhead compartment) or I'll wear more clothes on the plane, or I'll just abandon my principles (and pay for checked luggage!) So, keep your eyes out for a hipster dufus wearing 3 coats on a plane near you...
On my way to Alaska I'll probably stop at Seattle and try for Sky Lark and Vaux's Swift, and hopefully catch up with my friend, Hans de Grys - who's now finished his crazy mid-year to mid-year Big Year and is back to his day job teaching chemistry.
Apart from rarities, I still need to work on some code #1 and #2 birds. Here's what I still need for the year:
- Vaux's Swift (hopefully in WA state before or after Gambell.)
- Sharp-tailed Grouse (really need help on this. Don't have any good ideas except Arrowwood NWR in ND, which is a bit of a trek. Any ideas?)
- Mottled Petrel (probably not going to happen)
- Black Storm-petrel (CA pelagics in Sept.)
- Whooping Crane (Aransas in Dec)
- Common Ringed Plover (the nesting birds on Gambell will probably have left by the time I get there, so probably not going to get this bird.)
- Whiskered Auklet (trying to plan a trip out of Dutch Harbor after Gambell - or before Barrow in early Oct.)
- Sprague's Pipit (Dec in Texas)
- Smith's Longspur (Dec in the south)
- McKay's Bunting (Dutch Harbor, or Nome in late fall)
- Sagebrush Sparrow (probably wintering birds in the southwest.)
- Eurasian Tree Sparrow (IL late in the year, when there's nothing else to chase!)
I'm most worried about Sharp-tailed Grouse - so I'd love any suggestions. I'm still amazed that I've seen all the other grouse and quail this year and that this is the only one I still need - so I should be pretty happy to be in this position. Thank you again Mountain Quail!
OK. Off to Hatteras. 2 hour flight. 5 hour drive (from RDU). 3 hour "sleep."
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