Here I am on the summit of Saddleback Mountain this morning. I posed here because Lynn Barber posed here on July 1, 2008 during her Big Year. Derrick Lovitch took this picture. Derrick Lovitch photographed Lynn in 2008 as well. Lynn trekked up the mountain in 2008. I trekked up it last night. We were both here for one reason and it wasn’t to enjoy the wretched weather nor Derrick’s pasta salad (which was actually pretty good). Sounding eerily similar? That’s because we were both in search of the restricted ranged Bicknell’s Thrush.
Derrick Lovitch, who owns Freeport Wild Bird Supplies, is THE man to see if you want Bicknell’s Thrush. It’s not a particularly easy bird to find. It’s range is restricted to the krumholtz forest of eastern mountains in New England and Canada. The estimated population is betwen 20,000 and 50,000 birds. You don’t just drive along a country road and hear these birds. You have to work for them. We hiked straight up a ski mountain yesterday afternoon for 1.8 miles. That included a three thousand foot gain without any switchbacks carrying a backpack. It was foggy, wet and in the high 40’s or low 50’s. We set our tent; ate dinner and walked around in drizzle and wind trying to locate the thrush without any luck. The terrible lighting conditions didn’t help either.
But Derrick’s plan was for us to locate possible areas for calling birds in the evening, then wake up at 4:45 AM. when the birds are singing. The problem was that it was pretty late in the breeding season and the weather sucked. I was admittedly underdressed and paid the consequences. This was our campsite if you can see it through the fog.
Oh by the way, Lynn Barber got the Bicknell’s Thrush in 2008 and I got the bird at 5:00 AM this morning. Despite awful conditions (this is the coldest I’ve been this year!) we saw a female carrying food (caddis fly?) in it’s mouth. Derrick admitted afterwards that he was a little worried. But we got it. You can’t afford to miss on a bird like this when you’re chasing ghosts from the past.