Thursday, December 2, 2010
Today is December 1st, my birthday, so I had my fingers crossed that we would see the brown shrike today. After 9 hours of sleep last nite, we were out in the heavy mist by 9 AM, prowling thru the sand dunes and wetlands listening and looking for the shrike. Like yesterday, there were about 10 other birders out there with us. Alas, after all the other birders had left, we called it a day about 1 PM without finding our elusive quarry. We saw 5 more new birds for the week. Because it was raining today, I again did not take any new pics, so I have put a photo of an eastern screech owl that I took down in south Texas earlier in the year (click on it to enlarge).
We grabbed a quick lunch, and checked the web to see if any new rarities had been found today. None were in the lower 48 states, so after sorting thru my options with Bob and Wes, I have decided to stay here in San Fran for now to see what develops with the shrike, or some other bird. Bob is heading home so that he can then go up to Newfoundland to try to see both black-tailed, and a yellow-legged gulls. I did get an email this evening from John Puschock telling me that 2 gyrfalcons have been seen near Moscow, ID recently. This is one of the birds that I am hoping to see before the end of the year, so I need to get some more info about this possibility.
On the way to our motel for the nite, we stopped in San Fran for a quick dinner at my favorite SF chinese restaurant--Hunan. I talked about this place earlier in the year when I ate there with my son Caleb. Since I was not home to eat a celebratory meal with my wife, it was great to share a birthday dinner with Bob and Wes at a place that I have been eating at for over 30 years. They let me pick the dishes and they seemed quite happy with the results.
There are only 30 more days in this big year. I said a few weeks ago after I had seen 688 birds that I was raising my year end target to 695 birds. With 697 now seen, and the common redpoll an all but certainty, I am now within reach of the amazing level of 700 species seen in the lower 48 states. If rarities keep showing up at the rate they have in the past 3 weeks, then getting to 700 is looking much more probable. "Slim" is now back in the "town limits", but there is still some work and luck required for me to get to 700.
Based on sightings over the past few years, some rare birds I have not yet seen that have a greater probability of making a showing before the end of 2010 include the following:
gyrfalcon, slaty-backed gull, thick-billed murre, hoary redpoll, roadside hawk, emperor goose, ivory gull, eared quetzal, loggerhead kingbird, and white wagtail.
Given the large number of northern birds that have pushed down into the lower 48 states in recent weeks, other rarities such as the brown shrike might also be found. The travel map has been updated. Stay tuned!