Saturday, July 20, 2013


California was a lot of fun and really helped my Big Year. Here's a quick summary of the 10 days:
  • Number of new species: 22 (total of 684)
  • Number of targets missed: 2 (Mountain Quail, California Thrasher)
  • Best bird: it's a tie between Yellow-billed Magpie (for the run-around), Chukar (for the surprise), Condor (obviously the coolest), and Burrowing Owl (the cutest)
Burrowing Owl. Winner of the cute award.
  • Best surprise bird: Scripp's Murrelet. Phew!
  • Worst bird: rhymes with Fountain Kale.
  • No of miles driven: 2,520
  • Cost of rental car damage from Wildhorse Meadows and Arrastre Creek: $0. Phew!
  • Best non-countable bird:
  • Best road sign: 

  • Most innovative attempt at hiding groinal areas:

  • Most eponymous beer: 

The Hayward 5,000. 
Appropriately weak, bitter and cold.
  • Best coffee: Philz Coffee, Sausolito. Awesome drip coffee.
  • Most taunting road name if the first two words were reversed: 
  • Most ambiguous use of a number:

  • Least intuitive souvenirs to buy from California:

 Rubber horse and unicorn heads
  • Best end to the birding vacation:
Wine country.

Thank you California. Can't wait to be back!

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  1. You most likely already know this, but a Slate-throated Redstart in southeaster Arizona.

    1. Thanks Wes!

      Yes - heading there today!

      - Neil

  2. My choice for best bird (surprise, surprise) is a tie between the Barn Owl in a palm tree & the Burrowing Owl in the middle of the road. I also have an award to add. Best non bird species sighting.... The Mountain Lion in the San Gabriel's, the Black Bear in Yosimite, the Wolf at Butterbredt Springs? Any of those would have my choice as I am truly grateful that none of the non bird species included a rattle snake! Thank you for such an amazing trip :)!

    1. Hmm...I remember seeing a Black Bear and Mountain Lion. The "wolf" was only seen by you while you were getting some exercise running through the desert. Clearly, the heat and dehydration caused you to imagine the "wolf." Probably a squirrel? Or a ground-hog?


      - Neil

    2. ....Or even a Labradoodle!

  3. Congrats on the success of the year.

    As I can attest, mountain quail have also been my nemesis...doing sort of a unusual big year myself, you see I'm doing a big year in the buff, au naturel, in the nude,

    anyways, I've free-hiked miles and miles looking for mountain quail in CA and OR and not-a-one, for that matter all quail and grouse have been tough, only scaled was in a cemetery and a funeral showed up in Texas....leking snowed out six times in April, both prairies chx species, and sharp-tailed, luckily patience and persistence paid off, coupled with dumb luck. In my pursuit, you can't get every one, I guess, especially naked, but heck I'm less than a hundred behind......

    Olaf Danielson record nude birder
    (you'll probably happy we didn't run into each other this year, and...I really birded nude on Attu, almost all the time)

  4. Hi Olaf!

    Thanks for the comment. And great timing! I just got off Debi Shearwater's boat where I met Jay Lehman. He mentioned your "unusual" big year. I love it! What a great way to see birds! Must have been chilly up in AK though? I was almost hypothermic and I was wearing all the clothes I'd brought with me!

    I look forward to reading your future blog posts. Hopefully you're birding in places where you won't get arrested?!

    Good luck with the rest of your nude big year!
    - Neil

  5. Well, there are places I wont get arrested and then there are places there are birds, the key is merging the two.....

    Jumping the fence at dawn at Estero Grande and then getting the birds on the trail before everyone shows up or learning the ranger rounds at Santa Ana before doing a similar project needed to be donw, and one never knows what may happen on the trail

    sometimes you have odd dealings with the cops:

    I'm pretty tough, and I stayed dressed the two really nasty days on Attu and only lost a tufted duck and a pacific golden plover

    Yea, I think I shocked Jay on the boat, he didn't read the memo...

    Off to Florida in hopes of Limpkins, swallow-tailed kites and purple gallinules after stopping at my favorite marsh in Minnesota to rock tap out a yellow rail


  6. by the way the title of the book on this adventure is:

    "Boobies, peckers, and tits: A naked look at a world record in birding"