Sunday, 23 September 2012

Skua! South Polar Skua!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, you'd have to be on the boat to understand the above explanation marks: !!!!!!!!!!!!

On Friday when the Hawaiian Petrol flew by the boat and yesterday when the South Polar Skua did the  same, all hell breaks loose amongst the guides.  They yell, they shout in unison the name of the bird and which direction it is flying so that everyone on the boat can get a look at, in the case of the Hawaiian Petrol, a great code 4 rarity, or in yesterday's case, the South Polar Skua, that does not appear on every Pelagic.

The Skua was one of 4 birds I added to my list yesterday, giving me 14 new additions for the two boat rides.  Even better, I was prepared with a good night's sleep, a full tummy from breakfast, carbonated beverages and crackers, just like Debi had said to do in her notes she had mailed me months earlier: "Don't follow Debi's rules, suffer the consequences."  Even had it circled.

So I didn't get sick and had the opportunity to sit and bird with John Hargrove, who is also doing a Big Year.  It was fun to swap stories, share birds we have or haven't seen this year.  In fact, I actually have seen about 5 birds he hasn't and he is at 650.  He's having a pretty big year, in fact.  Of course, he is retired, has more money than me and has birded over 30 years, so I don't feel at all bad about my number.  Great thing about Big Years, it is a competition where there are no losers.  Of course that might change if I am ever next to someone with 650 and I have 649.

I drove, last night up to Yosemite.  Yikes.  What is with the twist-y, turn-y, rollarcoast-y mountain roads.  It was like a carnival last night, in the pitch black on these wind-y roads.  It was both fun and very scary.  Turns just jumped out at me at the last second and great thing the rental has very nice handling and a small turning ratio.

I slept in, as I have been up at 4:30 am each of the last few days.  I will spend a leisurely day birding Yosemite and see what tomorrow brings, when I add up the results of today.

Some photos:   Two of a Sabine's Gull that flew very close to the boat and another of me, Debi Shearwater and John Hargrove, each of us in our requisite funny hats, naturally; and Debi looking not a thing like Angelica Houston, though Debi can be as tough as Annie Auklet if you don't listen to her.  Of course, John and I are doing Big Years, but it is Debi the Queen of the Sea, without whom, no one could do a Big Year, including the one and only Sandy Komito.

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