Done! Four pair of my heaviest socks are now zipped in a small bag. My Golite waterproof, insulated pants are folded neatly in my suitcase. Layer after layer of “Hi Tec” clothing also packed away. Seems a bit ridiculous doesn’t it? This is still August. The temperature here in Niwot, CO will rise to the upper 90’s today. Hot it will be…yeah, but not where I’m going. Last night I checked the temperature on my new I-phone – 44 Deg. F was the high and 38 Deg F was the low for the day. For just a moment last night, I actually wondered why I’m returning to cold and dreary Gambell to stay for ten more days. It won’t be much warmer now then it was in June. Why am I going? Well to borrow a saying from Jimmy and Bob “But let us not speak falsely now for the hour is growing late”. I know why I’m coming back and many of you do too. This is my chance to reverse the dismal showing this spring, brought about from the cold east winds that blew day after day across this wind blown barren bit of land that is St. Lawrence Island. As our family doctor, Dr. Lloyd McCarthy, who’s a birder, matter-of-factly explained to my brother, Tom, when he learned of the spring trip results to Gambell “Well he has to go back”.
And why not? My heavy socks will keep my feet warm. My Golite pants and layer upon layer of hi-tec clothing will shelter me from the cold and rain. I’m coming back to bird. To find every last Asian stray that’s on this barren bit of land. I’ll walk the near boneyards…and the far boneyards… and the circular boneyards. I’ll walk through Old Town where the Eurasian Wryneck was once seen. I’ll climb the hills below the crash site. I’ll do it all day long and day after day. This is who I am. My wife says I’m too intense about this Big Year. Larry Rosche once said I push too much, that I always take it too hard and long. Well, you know what, I’ll rest next year. Why? Because I want the excitement of finding a Little Bunting from that hillside outside of the village. I crave the thrill of racing across the tundra on my ATV towards the far side of Troutman Lake for a Far Eastern Curlew. I want to flush up a Common Rosefinch from that far boneyard. How about finding the next 1st North American record. True, Gambell can be one of the most dismal and dreary places in North America. But when those birds from the west are forced down on the barrens, Gambell is simply magical.