The First Weekend in August

By the first weekend in August fall migration is in full swing, birders are out and about at their local hotspots and rarities are bound to show up.  That was the case yesterday.  I received a call from Ken Petersen that a Ruff had shown up in Mountain View, CA.  John Puschock of Zugunruhe Birding Tours. called to tell me that the Wood Sandpiper was present for the second day at the Samish Flats.  I was headed for King Soopers to purchase ham, fake non-dairy cheese and apricot reserve to make a grilled ham & cheese that we’d had for lunch on Larry Manfredi’s boat trip to the Dry Tortugas.  I could not remember what the cook had blended with the apricot preserve, but it was delicious so I decided to call Larry to see if he’d remember.  Then I figured if it wasn’t a bird plumage Larry probably would NOT remember.  Five minutes later Larry called, no joking,  he didn’t know what the cook had mixed together but he told me he was looking at a Thick-billed Vireo at Matheson Key south of Miami.  A megararity!  So here there were three rarities I would love to chase and I had obligations.  The Himalayan Snowcock in the Ruby Mtns. of northeastern Nevada.

If I were the only one involved, I’d have tried to get to Florida today, but Gary Matthews is flying with me on a purchased ticket and Guy Pickavance and a friend were driving south from Vancouver to meet us on Monday.  So the rarities will have to wait till at least Wednesday of next week.

Today is a travel day. Fly to Salt Lake City then drive 220 miles to Elko, NV.  We’ll recon the trailhead this evening. Tomorrow is a 2:30 AM wakeup call, then a 45 minute drive and a two mile hike, most of which will be in the dark up to Island Lake. I’ve learned that it’s critical to get in position early while the snowcocks are still high on the ridge and before they fly down into the valley to begin feeding.

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