David Sibley & Birdchick, It's On

Well, this was an interesting development that came about while I was out of the country. The 2009 San Diego Bird Festival has been selected to host a sneak preview screening of the documentary, Ghost Bird, about the search for the legendary ivory-billed woodpecker. The annual bird festival, hosted by the San Diego Audubon Society, is being held March 5 – 8, at Marina Village in Mission Bay Park. The sneak preview is set for Friday, March 6, beginning at 7 pm, also Marina Village.

According to the press release, the movie "wades into a murky swamp of belief and obsession in this cautionary tale about birders, ornithologists and the citizens of Brinkley, Arkansas, who are certain they keep seeing a giant woodpecker that’s been extinct for over half a century."

But here's the kicker, after the movie, there is an informal panel discussion with the filmmaker, Scott Crocker, me (because I was on one of the ivory-bill search teams), and David Sibley.

So, if you're coming to the San Diego Bird Festival, you can check this out on Friday night--should be interesting. I've had the trailer for Ghost Bird in the blog before, but if you missed it, here's a link to it. Wonder if I'll be able to Twitter during the discussion?

Awesome Sunday At Hawk Ridge

Saturday at Hawk Ridge:

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday At Hawk Ridge:


...hawks, northwest winds, fair temperatures, shining sun--all the things that make hawk watching special.

I helped out at the NatureScape News selling subscriptions and issues and the table became a catch all table for everybody. I was selling shirts and calendars (shirts were a hit to men and women of all ages), and Rick Bowers helped at the table too and was on hand to autograph his books (that's him above with his massive camera, Mammal Guide and shearwater head--I geeked out a little...okay, I geeked out a lot) and BirderBlog hung out and sold some of her books including her new book 101 Ways to Help Birds.

The Eagle Optics table was right next to ours so I got to see my good friend Katie. And, per WildBird on the Fly's request:

The odd thing is that we have Katie here kissing a dehydrated shearwater head and she's healthy, while I came down with some nasty intestinal bug last night that still has not quite left me. Curse you, hot-pepper-wild-rice bratwurst, and everything you stand for! At least I hope that's what it is, I haven't felt this bad since I lived with that party-animal of a parasite, giardia. I really don't want to go through that again. But enough about my digestive problems, you read this blog for birds so:

Look at this beautiful adult sharp-shinned hawk, taking a brief stop in its journey to educate the crowd about migration. They're so pretty when they grow up.

Here are the new counters at Hawk Ridge this year Corrie and Sue. Look at that--they are women--fun and intelligent women too. Paging Kevin Karlson, here are some hot up and coming women should you ever consider doing another list for WildBird. When it's not so busy, I plan on going out for a beer and learning more about them. It's hard to talk and get to know them during the peak of broad-wing migration, they're a little preoccupied. They did request that the next time I'm up that I bring Cinnamon, they really want to be disapproved of.

There was a whole lotta releasin' going on at the Ridge, since they were getting so many sharp-shins at the banding station.

I got some great shots of some of the releases:

Here we have an excited little girl releasing a shin that ended up veering through a surprised audience. Sharp-shins are an accipiter and are well known for their ability to dart around objects quickly and for short super fast bursts of speed. Here's an up close view of the above photo of the shin going through the audience:

Looking at where Hawk Ridge Education Director Debbie Waters has her camera aimed, was she fast enough to get the young sharpie flying away?

This is my favorite photo. There's a sharpie being released right above everyone's head. Here's a closer view:

I wonder if this guy got his photo and even better yet, look at the excited little boy below and behind him.

Call of the Wild

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match...

So, if anyone out there is interested in picking up men, especially rugged outdoors type guys, I can't recommend wearing camo enough. In order to go photographing with Wheeler and Tekiela we were ordered to be in full camo, plus they covered us in tarps so the birds would see nothing at all. When we arrived in Duluth, we stopped at a gas station for some coffee and breakfast sandwiches in our camo pants and jackets. As we entered, every male eye in the place was on us. I opened the refrigerator case for nice wholesome bottle of milk when I heard a roguish voice ask, "So, you ladies up here deer hunting?" He cocked his eye brow, coyly and gave a knowing smile.

I wanted to tell the truth, that we were going to sit on the ground covered in a tarp, watch hawks soar overhead and listen to two of the greatest bird photographers of our time go "clickity, click, click, click, click" with their cameras. Alas, I decided to flirt back and sound macho so I gave a little white lie and said, "We're hawk trapping!!" (we do go up for hawk trapping, however we were not this particular day).

He looked bewildered and a little disappointed that I wasn't going to go out and take out a buck with a nice rack (while sporting a nice rack of my own--ba da ching). Anyway, I tried to make it sound cool and exciting, but really in thirty seconds of flirting it's incredibly difficult to get the finer point of hawk trapping across. Knowing my luck, he probably thought I was going to kill hawks and is turning me in as I type.

The moral of the story was that if you want to meet men, go to a gas station wearing camo...it's a turn on.

This is a bird chick blog so, I should mention birds seen up in Duluth LOT AND LOTS of bald eagles! We had a kettle of about 7 eagles at one point and one of them turned out to be a golden eagle. We also saw many rough legged hawks. I saw more dark morph rough legs yesterday than I have in my entire life. Other points of interest included black-backed woodpeckers, snow buntings, lapland longspurs, gray jays, harriers, and my favorite raptor the goshawk!