Saturday, March 8, 2008

Nearly a month?

What? It has been nearly a month since the rodeo? No way. Well I guess since that was the last post. Time flies when you're bird hunting.

A lot has happened in the last month, including spending 7 days (11-17 Feb) in McAllen TX for a meeting, a lot of bird watching (lots of new species I've never seen before) and a trip to Mexico for dinner and booze (and to watch 2 international students with the conference get detained by Border Patrol for a while, they made a boo boo on their visa's, they were later released into the US). I got to see a lot of my colleagues from across the US and had to run a 4 hr meeting as I'm too involved in things. It was a fantastic meeting, great food (closer to real mexican food), and just a lot of fun. The one morning we had every room, except one, booked for our conference at the Convention Center. The other room was used by Hillary Clinton. I was birding that morning, so I missed the Secret Service and hooplah. Thank gosh. Birding, seeing illegals swim the river, and getting yelled at by Border Patrol is way more fun:)

I have a lot of bird pictures posted here:
Just click on McAllen Texas and click on the first bird for a larger image, then you can click next and make a slide show. Before you ask, yes I took all those pictures. I'll add more bird pictures from other places, but I haven't had time to put them up.

We then enjoyed me being home for a week, but had to give a talk to the local bird club one night. Total in attendance: 14, including me. Never a big turnout with that group. At least they pay attention and ask questions.
Recently I spent time in west Tennessee searching for that recently found woodpecker that was extinct since the 1940's. It was rediscovered in 2004 in Arkansas and so we have the duty to spend some time (not much, as I was told by my bosses) searching in TN. After being skeptical that the bird was actually refound for a couple years, I've decided in the last couple months that they survived to today (long story on why, even though we don't have a picture or actual proof). Anyway, I'm contracting with someone to do a lot of the work for me, but I went last week to scout out a small site (very unlikely to have the bird, but we had an interesting story about someone seeing the bird irregularly), and within an hour I'm pretty confident I heard one. I just don't know how else to explain what I encountered, it was unlike anything I've ever heard in the woods and is fairly diagnostic of what this species does. The next day I heard it again while with a colleague on 2 occassions. So I'm not crazy. Now some experts have been to the site and I think they believe we have the birds, so all my time now for the next month will be searching in west TN. Hence a lot of travel the next few weeks. I was planning to be home pretty much all March, but that changed quick. Many good things would come of this if we found one!
It also snowed last night. They called for 2-4 inches, but we only got a coating where we are. I was hoping for more, but alas we didn't get much. I took some Brian Athow artistic pictures for you. Enjoy.

Welp, time to clean up a plant a cat knocked over this morning, leaving a pile a dirt across one corner of the living room.

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