We’re racing north on the 101 towards Arcata, CA. Fifteen minutes ago we bagged the Tufted Duck at Stafford Lake near Novato. My ninth category 4 or higher bird for the year (see Bird List for category explanations). Now, it’s full bore ahead to Arcata. There’s been a Brown Shrike wintering since last November 21 in McKinleyville. It perches on Pampas grass just west of the Vista Overlook and north of the mouth of the Mad River. Brown Shrike!! I remember seeing that painting back in the 70’s in a Birds of the World book and thinking, wouldn’t it be cool to see that bird? I always used to keep up on the Attu reports and whenever Brown Shrike was mentioned I’d think….”wow…if only”.
Anyways, I’m with Gary Matthews and we’re pumped up (at least as pumped as two guys can be in their 60’s). The plan is to get the Brown Shrike tomorrow morning, then work north to a gated road into a large redwood Grove that Jon Dunn feels is the best place in California to see Ruffed Grouse. There are also Sooty Grouse as well. After this we’ll bird our way down the coast to Mendocino where hopefully we’ll meet up with “Big Al”.