Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Unbelievable. You'd think after Alaska they would get there shit together. They can spend billions on nonsensical technology (iPad, for one....), yet not find a way to safely transport oil?

How many googles of times have ships navigated everywhere? To me, this really angers me for 3 reasons...

1) The most obvious, the wildlife of the Gulf

2) Obama thinks it's a good idea to do MORE drilling

3) My first encounter of the Gulf Coast in TX and LA will surely not be as expected.

I was in Alaska 2 years ago, and drove to Valdez. I honestly wanted to cry due to the way the locals described the disaster.

People ask me why I want to live in a cabin in the middle of an undeveloped million acre forest.... my answer is always.... 'You, and people'.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lots of packing and thinking....

I got a few new tats yesterday, rainy out, no plans, so I sat down and opened an excel file and just thought of everything I would need. From tent to chapstick, from plastic forks to my cell phone, from my water shoes to my lens cleaner.

In about 15 minutes, I had 228 items listed. The good thing, though, is that I already have 92% of all that.... I just have to think about where it is and find it all!! My buddy said, 'What, they don't have Walmart in bumblescum??'. Of course they do.... but being prepared is a no brainer when compared to a possibility.

It is now 10:11am (est), on April 27th, 2010. By this time on May 10th, 2010 I will be probably in Ohio. Not exactly safe.... but I made it home to Stratford from a hotel on the Illinois/Indiana border (called the Blue Heron!) in 12 hours. I am leaving at 4:00am, so 6 hours in I will be nearing Ohio most likely. People really think it takes longer to get to places than they actually do. Yea, it does take 14 hours to drive to Savannah, GE.... but from my house in Stratford it takes me 13 minutes, going the speed of traffic, to Main St. in downtown West Haven.

I can't wait for that first sunrise to enlighten my first birding spot... and myself.

T-Minus: 49min, 18hrs, 13 days......


Monday, April 26, 2010

Two weeks.... music

Only two weeks until what will (hopefully not!!) be the trip of my lifetime. (I still need to get to Mexico again, Costa Rica, Galopagos..!!!).

One enourmous part of my life is music. I play music (guitar, keyboard, drums, harmonica, flute), I hear music (huge difference between listening and hearing!), I have musical vibes in my blood stream. I already rambled off a few bands to be heard on the trip, but because I am bored, I will list what I got on the iPod now. I listen to any and everything, so the list is quite eclectic and probably most artists are unknown to several.*

Suggestions are greatly appreciated.... how else do you find new music??* If anyone knows of a band listed, and knows of something I may like, I WILL put it in the iPOD... and give it a chance. most turn off things too qick to even know if they dig it or not.

(in no order of favorites....just what comes out of my mind......)

Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst (Conor IS Bright Eyes), Jack Johnson, Cage, Incubus, Citizen Cope, Miles Davis, Led Zepplin, The Doors, Atreyu, Air Supply (yea, I said Air Supply), Portishead, Kings of Leon, Plain White T's, Nas, Les Claypool and his many bands (Primus, Frog Brigade, etc...), Pink Floyd, Boston, Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, The Wailers, 311, The Agony Scene, Alice in Chains, Arlo Guthrie, a little bit of Janis...can only take so much of her, Poison The Well, A Jealousy Issue, New Found Glory (not a bad show the other night at CCSU... too much new stuff), Marshall Tucker Band, Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Dave Matthews Band, Hatebreed (eh), Galactic, Ryan Montbleu Band, moe. (gotta be in my top 10 bands.... way too many to do a top 3, forget one), Tool, A Perfect Circle, Dashboard Confessinal, The Dillinger Escape Plan (coolest band name ever), Tupac, Biggie, OLD Mobb Deep, Blood for Blood, Jane's Addiction, Every Time I Die, The Grateful Dead, Ratdog (oh, Bobby, why...), Phish, Phil Lesh and Friends, Keller Williams, The String Cheese Incident, Nirvana, Widespread Panic, Muse, The Reckoning, Bob Dylan (Conor Oberst is the next BD), Eighteen Visions, Gin Blossoms, God Forbird, Radiohead, Full Blown Chaos, Hopesfall, Green Day (Dookie and prior), Metalllica (pre-Load... again, d-bag sellouts), Interpol, Damien Marley (Bob's son), Simon & Garfunkel, George Clinton and P-Funk, Deep Banana Blackout, Remembering Never, Crosby-Stills-Nash, Jethro Tull, Soundgarden, Sublime, Santana, Butthole Surfers, The Meat Puppets, Buddy Guy, a little bit of the old Ludwig Van (Beethoven... from Clockwork Orange... book better), Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Paganini (5th caprice.... wow.... link to video of best shredder EVER playing the 5th on electric guitar), Straylight Run, Lotus, The Black Crowes, A Life Once Lost, Bud and Budd- The Kind Buds, The Mars Volta, Michael Frantiw/Spearhead, Spearhead alone, Killswitch Engage, Seemless (Killswitch's original singer's new band), Pearl Jam, Temple of the Dog, Mother Love Bone, RAQ, Senses Fail, Stome Temple Pilots, maybe some Coheed, John Gilmore solo stuff (Floyd lead guitarist), Better Than Ezra, Spin Doctors, Beach Boys, John Denver, The Bled, Johnny Cash, Candiria, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, Drowning Pool (pre lead singer's death), Pantera, Superjoint Ritual, Foo Fighters, Tenecious D, From Autumn to Ashes, Fuel, Into Another, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Oasis, MxPx, NoFX (I hate the Misfits!), Live, REM, Kottonmouth Kings, Lords of Acid, The Chemical Brothers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, OutKast, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane, G. Love and Special Sauce, Perpetual Groove, Jeff Beck, Patsie Cline (my father loved her... know the songs by heart), The Bloodhound Gang, CKY, Cypress Hill, Flyleaf, System of a Down, Depeche Mode, Bootsy Collins, Cat Stevens, Edgar Winter Group, Mgmt, Trivium, Beck, Slightly Stoopid, The Roots, Silverchair, Candlebox (best band to learn on guitar), The Used, AFI (eeehhh), Eminem (I guess... I think he sucks besides his flow skills.... generic, corny and lame lyrics... Ill take Cage over him any day), The Pretenders, Blink 182 (2004 and prior), Anthrax, Iron Maiden, Slipknot, Portishead (needs to be mentioned twice!), The Mamas and the Papas, Roy Orbison, Ben Harper, Bens Fold Five, Matchbox 20......

....that is where my Brian brain train ended. I encourage all to check out any bands listed. how does one learn with closed eyes and ears??


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Phone/GPS and some Sherwood photos

Well I got a new phone, and I love it. I don't know how it compares to others, but I got the newest Motorola Droid w/Google. It is the one with the slide down keyboard (was a must... still working on getting better at that!).

But it indeed save me money.... I needed a new phone like crazy, and wanted/needed a GPS for my trip. The Droids maps and car navigation is amazing. Within seconds, it found where I was, I typed in San Fransisco, and had step by step directions.

Most probably know all these neat features, but this is my first 'real' phone... and I dig the hell out of it!

Anyhow... early on Friday morning (4/23), I met Tina Green at the entrance of Sherwood Island SP in Westport, CT for a look around. I had only been there once, and it was only as far in as to the conifers so see some really awesome birds (thanks go to Tina for that, also!!), so Tina was gracious enough to trot me around the park and point out the finer birding sections.

We tallied 43 species, highlights being 7 Snipe, 7-8 Willet, 4 Thrashers, and a single Yellow warbler (at most, 5 minutes after Tina left for work.. bummer!). That was our ONLY warbler of the walk. The Mill pond and LIS were quite dead.

Nonetheless, it was a gorgeous day (a bit breezy) to be out in nature. And I agree with Tina when she says that Sherwood could, and maybe more importantly should, be the Hammo of Fairfield county. Maybe not as big, but the habitats are all the same... just not maintained as much as they should be.

Below are a few photos I snagged of the few I snagged in total.

-One of many Willet who have returned to Sherwood Island and the CT coast-

-A crap photo of one of the 4 Thrashers we found-

-My favorite.... as I was leaving the point on the shore to head out and home, this amazing little guy landed and was very photogenic. I raised Black Swallowtails before, and I think they are just amazing. This was my first encounter this year with any swallowtail, though the next day I saw two Tiger Swallowtails.-

After today only 2 weeks!!!

(I can't say that Alex's FL birdlist didn't get me a bit jealous that I am not out now!! I'll be down there around July 1st... if AZ doesn't hold me down!)


Thursday, April 22, 2010

We're getting there!!

Less than three weeks to go!! (anxious scream). Just got my truck totally done up for my trip (after 2 dyas without.... but I have an amazing mechanic and a ton of stuff only ran me $600!)

Luke, Nick, Alex... I lost my phone (using an even crappier back up now), so Saturday I am going to Verizon to pick up a Droid, or the newest Droid. Whichever has REAL buttons. But either has GPS, and the latter has a GPS tracker. Two birds in one stone, hopefully!!

A few new birds have been ever so slowly coming into CT. I had my first BWWA (2) and Wood thrush yesterday.

There has got to be warblers around, weather was perfect for birds to be found yesterday. Frank Mantlik pulled the first Parula of CT yesterday, a willet was at Stratford Point, Cattle egrets were upstate, and an Am. Golden Plover.

Kepp those eyes peeled nd your necks strained to the tree tops! Yellow has been seen in CT as of 4/17.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

The dump....

One reason I LOVE birds is that they are everywhere. Whether stupid (in my opinion) Starlings or House sparrows, or just backyarders, or good stuff... anything can be anywhere, anytime.

I have been working a bunch to get stuff done and make as much cash as possible for my American Adventure, which brought me to the dump in Stratford. This dump (refuse/recycling place as the like to call it) is only a couple blocks down from the ever-popular Stratford unit of McKinney Refuge, mostly 'Great Meadows'. All the same habitat is near, but warehouses and whatnot make the 1/2m drive down the road seem less impressive (the winter 'western' Willet didn't think to seem so!!).

The last 2 times I have been to this dump, I had a gorgeous White-crowned sparrow working the large brush pile the town has residents pile into (4/10). This early afternoon, I was waiting in a looooong line to clean out the many (MANY) bags of trash from cleaning an apt and I was lucky to sore another First Of Year bird (FOY) in the form of 3 active Barn Swallows.

I guess the moral of this short story.... KEEP BINOCULARS IN YOUR CAR AT ALL TIMES!!

Enjoy birds, and get out there!! The migrants are slowly dripping in. White-eyed Vireos have been seen in the SW corner, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are around in small numbers, Palms are back, I had an early Baltimore Oriole a few weeks ago, and a Blue-headed Vireo on 4/06.

Vermont has already reported RB Grosbeaks and Wood thrush. Not my real deal here... but it seems once the weather breaks we should have some migrant songbirds. If they are up there... they have to be around here somewhere!!! Luke pulling a YTWA gives a good feeling. =) (Great spot Luke and the group!).


Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Home Stretch...

My original departure date was May 1st, but I've pushed it back to May 10th to be home for Mother's Day. At this time on May 10th I will be somewhere in PA, on my way to the Dakotas. I've taken a few road trips, some short, some ridiculously long.... common element for me... leave before daybreak. After sleep, of course (if possible that night). Driving west with the rising sun in the rear-view is an experience hard to duplicate. It gets even better as the sun and my eyes paint over landscapes unseen in front of me.

I don't like making stretches longer than 12 hours, if only because I can't stand driving for 12 minutes. People....

One of my favorite things to do on a long trip is to find a secluded rest-stop or park, grab a pillow and sheet, and nap in the sun for about an hour or two. On a trip to AK, I did just that on the WI/MN border. When I woke up, the sun was setting and a snake was stretching and squirming it's way south in the form of thousands upon thousands of Common Nighthawks. It went on forever... I stood still, just watching, for about 15 minutes before something else caught my eye, this time much bigger. A flock of 15 Sandhill Cranes managed to move their massive bodies silently over the rocks and hills to warmer climes. Once the cranes were out of sight, the Nighthawks were still going strong. I finally convinced myself I needed to get going, jumped in the truck, and was then presented with a stunning view of a feeding American Bittern in a small pool just past the rest-stop. It's colors felt so warm in the fading sunlight. All 3 of the species were life birds. All in about 30 minutes, by accident, after a nap.

25 days. 25 days and I am on my way. To wherever I want to go. Anywhere. And I plan to do just that. I cannot even begin to describe the feeling one gets with an entire country in front of them, pulling and tugging in every direction to see America's beauty. The cities, the towns with 1 stoplight, the 6 hour drives of nothing but sunflowers, antelope in the fields, Golden eagles patrolling the plains, the locals, the bars, the history.... I want it all.

Main cities that will be at least driven through (if not visited):

NYC, Cleveland, Chicago, Madison, the Twin Cities, Rapid City (SD), Fargo, Great Falls and Helena (WY), Idaho Falls, Salt Lake City, Boulder and Denver, Vegas, Reno, San Francisco (back tracking a bit by here... can't pass up a chance to cruise south along the Pacific in Cali), Monteray, LA, San Diego, (still on the fence about Baja... to keep it in the US or not, hmm....) Phoenix, Tuscon, Santa Fe, Roswell (and small towns from Natural Born Killers), Carlsbad, El Paso, San Antonio, Houston, Corpus Christi, Galveston, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Mobile, Tallahassee, Daytona, Orlando, Miami, Ft. Laudy, The Keys, Atlanta, Augusta, Savannah (that is going to be amazing....), Charleston, Cape Hatteras, Richmond, DC, Annapolis, Philly, Trenton.... argg... Stratford.

I have from May 10th until July 27th to go wherever. I know going in that there is a distinct possibility I miss some planned destinations. Whether it be because the funds are dry, I can't leave one place, weather... it happens. I only have to be home for the Gathering of the Vibes at Seaside Park in BPT, CT. This will be, I believe, my 6th straight, since it was in upstate NY in Mariahville. Those that have seen me know I fit into the 'hippy' category, though I don't really subscribe to that label. Musically, absolutely. Music will be an integral and intense part of this whole trip. There is a song for every moment, place, person, thing, feeling and state of mind. My 2 iPods are already filled. Some bands that are absolutely needed:

Tool, Plain White T's, Jack Johnson, Citizen Cope, moe (the song Big Country fits so well), The Doors, Simon & Garfunkel, Keller Williams, Radiohead, The String Cheese Incident, Gin Blossoms, Floyd, Zep, The Grateful Dead, Phil Lesh & Friends (I'll take them over Phish anyday.... too bad Bobby can't get it right with Ratdog), Peter Tosh/Marley/The Wailers, Remembering Never, Hopesfall, Cage, Jethro Tull, Widespread Panic (Space Wrangler... man), Pearl Jam, DMB, Senses Fail, Dashboard, the Blow soundtrack, 311, Santana, Alice 'n Chains, Metallica (STRICTLY pre-Load... sellout jerk tools... they are horrible now), Ryan Montbleu Band, Poison the Well..... off the top of my head.

I want to thank any and everyone who helped/is helping me with my trip. Everything helps. From spare jumper cables to feeding my reptiles.

The countdown continues......

Saturday, April 3, 2010

FOYs continue.....

I made a trip down to Milford Point today to say hey to a few people (used to volunteer there). and to check on the Piping Plover situation.

I found two separate pairs of Piping Plovers (no Bermuda leg bands.... yet!!!), and 7 American Oystercatchers. Birds were pretty plentiful today there. A decent sized flock of about 100(+) Dunlin along the LIS sound, 3 Opsreys hanging about.... 2 residents and one intruder, good sized numbers of gulls plankton feeder... one of which was a probable Lesser Black-backed gull... too far and too bright to be sure, but I could make out the nape streaking of the adult bird, 2 Tree swallows, a Red-necked Grebe close to breeding best, 3 Horned grebes in breeding best, and the usual suspects. There were also several Killdeer, a half dozen Black-bellied plovers, several Greater yellowlegs, and a single (probable) Lesser yellowlegs. Not good enough lighting or visibliliy of field marks to make it a FOY yet. I'd like to think I'll get one before I leave!!

My next stop was just down the road (and beach) to Silver Sands SP, also in Milford. I stopping quickly to say 'HEY!' to a good friend who is an ACO at the Milford Animal Control center building there, and he actually pointed out a few birds he had been seeing. One of which he told me about yesterday and I IDed for him in the form of 2 Glossy Isis, and some fast flying green-ness, as so described. They were a few Tree swallows.

We walked out to then end of the board walk so I can show how far my new scope can go, and there were perfect subjects about (not the females... wow, they flock on the first nice weekend!!). There were 3 Snowy egrets and a single Great egret in the trees of nearby Charles Island. Other notable birds were 3 Osprey and a single Peregrine falcon. More gull plankot feeding here as well.

FOYS for today:

  • Piping Plovers
  • American Oystercatchers
  • Snowy Egret
  • Glossy Ibis (reported, didn't see until today)
  • Red-necked Grebe (didn't see Larry's on the boat in early March)
  • Black-bellied Plovers (didn't do too much winter shorebirding, obviously!)

Nice two day total for me in the FOY category. 11 in 2 days. I also had a FOY Palm warbler this morning.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Finally... the sun!

When I left my house yesterday morning, I was a little peeved to see it was still cloudy. But by 9:00a I was going blind! I hadn't seen the sun in like 4 days, and my bedroom is in the basement. When the sun came out I started sneezing, eyes watering and closing... but it felt great!

I had just gotten home when Tina Green called me to say she had found a Eurasian Wigeon in the 'warehouse pool' at the Great Meadows unit of the McKinney refuge in Stratford. I didn't see any last year, so I jumped on this one... also since I didn't go see one that was in Stratford this winter. Tina also let me know that the Northern Shoveler were still present as well.

I got down there, first day in a t-shirt and shorts, and was excited to score 4 first-of-year birds. In addition, birds were singing and Spring was showing itself. A phoebe worked the edge of the pond, Tree swallows flew by in pairs a couple times (Tina also had a NRW swallow), Swamp sparrows were looking nice and rusty, the Boat-tails were singing as loud as possible, Mute swans on their nest and bonding, Yellowlegs calling as it flew overhead, Killdeer calling from somewhere....

My 4 FOYs were Greater yellowlegs, Northern Shovelor, Eurasian Wigeon, and Great egret. Tina was awaiting Sara Zagorski's arrival when I got there, then Charlie Barnard came too. The 4 of us walked the railroad trail in hopes of Blue-winged teals (which were the other way!!), enjoyed the wigeon, and took in some sun.

It was a very nice day to be out, and nice to see my first EUWI since '08. Thanks, Tina! The Trumpeter swans took advantage of the great weather and took to the wing yesterday. I was thinking that may happen. All in all, it has been a sweet way to end the monsoon season and bring in April.

Lapwing, anyone??? ;)