Sunday, November 14, 2010

Holding Pattern in NC

It is Sunday morning and I have just returned with my wife from a fine autumn walk here on our property. It is not clear why, but fall has come "late" here as far as the leaves and color. It is the 14th, but usually by now our leaves are mostly on the ground and the glorious reds, oranges and yellows of our maples, hickories, dogwoods and oaks are a fading memory. Not alot of birds about this morning, but we did flush a woodcock.

My bird photo for today is a gufo as they are called in Italian. One of our favorite museums to visit in Florence is the Bargello which has castings of several different birds including the owl at the top. The gleeful little guy in leather chaps below the owl is eros--one of my most cherished bronzes also in the Bargello. The Uffizi and the Accademia are the better known museums in Florence, but we generally prefer the Bargello and the Museo dell Duomo.

The 3rd pic from the top is of a typical deli at the San Lorenzo market in Florence. It is always enjoyable to stroll thru this large market to see the various vendors--deli's, meat and poultry, seafood, wine and lots of produce on the second floor. The bottom photo is of a place called Nerbone that has been open since 1872. It serves simple pasta lunches for the working folks.

It is best known by foodies for its bollito panino--a sandwich of brisket that has been cooked in its own juices until totally tender, and then sliced very thinly (by the guy in the photo) and piled on a kaiser roll. Toppings are salt and pepper, and a green and red sauce. I was introduced to this delightful simple sandwich (the closest thing to BBQ in Italy) by our friends Ben and Karen when they stayed with us during the year we lived in Florence. I used to arrive about 11:15 in the morning so I could sit eating my panino while listening to a group of older Italian men trash talking each other. Now when I visit for a week I try to have 2 or 3 panini, often as a light breakfast by getting a piccolo version.

Yesterday I went on "bird alert" for a few hours when a possible slaty-backed gull was reported near Corvallis, OR, but by the evening it was concluded by local birders that the gull was an odd western. So I am still in a holding pattern, waiting for a rarity to show up while contacting key people around the country asking them to inform me ASAP about any rarity that they know about.

I was asked after my last posting if I now have the record for the lower 48 states. The answer seems to be yes and no. Yes in that the "official" record according to ABA info is 685 different species seen by my friend Dan Sanders back in 2005. But as I wrote prior to leaving for Italy, I learned from Sandy Komito that his computer records indicate he saw 692 birds in 1998 in the lower 48 states when he set the all-time ABA record of 745. He did not submit that number to the ABA, so according to my ABA birding friends, it is not an "official" number.

Back on September 30th I stated that my new goal for the year was to see at least 690 different species. With 691 seen, and the rock sandpiper and common redpoll expected, by year's end I should reach at least 693. With 6+ more weeks to go, I also expect some more rarities to make an appearance. As a result, I now think 695 birds is probable with the holy grail of 700 still out there but getting more possible. And with at least 693 birds I would also pass Sandy's 1998 lower 48 number. Stay tuned!


  1. Congratulations on setting a new ABA record, Chris!

    Best of luck as you reach for your next goal. Dare we imagine that holy grail business?

    We've seen all along that you have the right stuff. Now all we need is for a few more birds to decide to fly in.

    So here is an open invitation to all you stray birds...

    Come On Down... It's nice here- we've got vittles. Stand up and be counted!

  2. Vittles, I like that Pam. In the meantime I have the stray bird here at home!

  3. Best wishes to you hitting 700! I really hope you get there. How much have you spoken or run into Sandy Komito? Is he retired from Big Year'ing?