Friday, July 16, 2010

Homeward Bound Tomorrow

One of my followers asked after my last post if I was still really enjoying this big year, or maybe I was beginning to tire of the process. My answer is yes to both. I am still generally enjoying the big year, but there is definitely some "marathon" component to a big year. I realized in the spring that to complete the "marathon" would require me getting back home during the summer which is why I am flying home tomorrow for a 10 day break. After returning to the west coast on July 27th, I will go home again in mid August for a period of time.

For those who may remember my posts back at the beginning of the year, I named my blog slowbirding in an effort to keep some balance and perspective to a big year. It is another reason that I chose to do only a lower 48 big year as opposed to all of North America above Mexico. My sis after birding with me said "slowbirding my ass!". There is no question that a big year is an everyday, all day process that does not feel like slowbirding. That said, today was a good example of the Big Night part of my big year that is definitely all about slowbirding.

I was up again before 6 AM so that I could have a chance to find a cassin's vireo. I checked one spot outside of Burlington, WA, but found no vireos. So I drove back up to Rasar SP to check it again. The photo above is of a winter wren (now pacific wren) that was chattering away at me as I walked down a trail. Earlier as I drove up to the park I saw a bald eagle fly over. It is one of our largest birds, and the winter wren is definitely one of our smallest. No vireos were to be found again at Rasar.

I called it a birding day about noon so that I could make the drive back down to Seattle in time to eat at 2 of my favorite places in the city. First stop was at Elliot's Oyster House. They have a happy hour everyday beginning at 3 PM. Normally their raw oysters cost between $24 and $32 for a dozen depending on what you select. But from 3-6 PM they have happy hour where they start the oysters out at 50 cents, and raise the price per oyster 25 cents every 1/2 hour. Oyster lovers arrive at 3 PM and begin to chow down.

They have usually about 20 different oysters to choose from, but at happy hour the choice is up to the shuckers. The choice changes about every 1/2 hour, but not always. Today we began with a dozen calm cove oysters. They were pretty typical of the pacific coast oyster which is actually a transplant from Japan. I then had 6 each of chelsea gems and snow creek. I thought these were clearly better oysters for my taste. I had a glass of a pinot gris from Oregon followed by a sauvingnon blanc from Washington to wash the oysters down.

I then walked up the hill from Elliot's to one of my favorite restaurants--Wild Ginger. I have been eating here for at least 10 years. It is what I would call an Asian fusion restaurant. I have never had a bad dish here, and the wine list is one of the best around. I drank an '08 kerner from Abbazia di Novacella, a white wine rarely seen in the US. Maybe because of my wine choice, the wine steward brought over the reserve list for me to browse. It may be the best reserve list I have ever seen because of the combination of the breadth of wines on it, and in many cases the remarkably fair prices. It only made me want to visit Seattle and Wild Ginger even more.

My food choices were a Thai rendition on manila clams that I have had many times in the past. I had hoped to get fried catfish in a red curry sauce, but my waitress told me that they had taken it off the menu. So instead I had a wide rice noodle dish with shrimp, squid, mussels and scallops that was very tasty, but not the catfish dish.

Since I was eating alone, I was a restaurant voyeur, taking in all the patrons around me. To my left was a table with 3 women with nordstrom shopping bags. 2 were in their 20's, but the 3rd seemed to be in at least her late 30's. The conversation was lively, mostly about an impending wedding. A couple in front of me was sharing 2 dishes, each using their chopsticks to select tidbits from the plates. What surprised me tonite was that the restaurant was not totally jammed with customers since in the past we have often had to wait to be seated even though the place has room for like 250 customers.

Today is the end of week #28 with 6 more new birds seen for the week. There is an updated travel map at the top. The next 10 days will be mostly about being home, but who knows what might show up on the east coast. Stay tuned!


  1. Well... I know I am still enjoying your big year so please, go home and rest up- there are still birds to find! Only 24 laps to go.

  2. Enjoy your time at home. I will be doing the same at our Family Week. Your total is fantastic. Who needs Alaska, eh? Give me a call for a chat if you can 7576305189. Bob

  3. Chris, hope you are having some time to recharge your batteries at home.

    I'm wondering if you would be willing to give us a little preview of your plans (scheduled trips/target birds) and strategies (e.g. any criteria on when and how you will plan to chase rarities or circle back to key birds missed earlier?)