My friends Francis Commercon, Austin Hess, Jordan and of course myself all piled in my mom's CRV at 6:00 AM on the 21st of June ready for two days of birding paradise. We have several gallons of water, and a large 24 of water bottles and several bags and a cooler of food. It felt like we were leaving for a week.
We started out our drive with breakfast in Bennett and continued on out east. It takes about three hours to get to Bonny but we have never made it in that time. Someone is always hungry or someone needs a bathroom. So we ended up stopping once for gas and once for some birding at the famous Last Chance rest stop.
Last chance was extremely disappointing for Jordan, Francis and I. We had only heard of the glorious migrants found in those few trees. We pictured a sprawling rest stop with benches and BBQs, instead we rolled up to a dirt parking lot with a small "pond" that harbored a few Red-winged Blackbirds. Austin, who'd been here earlier in the spring, laughed at the shock on our faces. Birds were few and far between. Perhaps because it was mid July and in combination with the fire that blazed through last summer.
Eurasian Collared Dove
We continued toward Bonny with only an hour to go the anticipation of Northern Cardinals, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, and Bell's Vireos keeping us awake and energized.
Previously on our winter trips we encountered birds like Yellow-shafted Flicker, Eastern Bluebirds and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. Bonny is right between the split of eastern and western birds.
During this last hour we all enjoyed a episode of radiolab.
|Austin's Photo of Wild Turkeys|
When the turn finally came into few we turned onto the dirt road and over the cattle guard. All the windows came down in anticipation of new sounds. Yellow Warblers, Northern Flickers and Warbling Vireos called to us from the tops of trees and Yellow-breasted Chats chattered from deep thickets. When we pulled into our typical starting point a large flock of turkeys scattered into the tall grass clucking and chattering as they went.
|Photo by Austin Hess|
Immediately we all jumped out and begin pulling on packs organizing camera lenses and pulling gators up over our shins. The hot sun beat down on us and we trekked out to the right along the forest edge. Follow the sound of House Wrens into the thick willows.
|Resting after a long hike through the poison ivy|
|Indigo Bunting by Austin Hess|
|Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker by Austin Hess|
a football field away.
|Red-headed Woodpecker by Austin Hess|
wooo nothing is more exciting than finding a working bathroom at an old rundown campsite....semi working anyway. No running water, no toilet paper...so still primitive, and apparently the women's bathrooms come complimentary with a bullsnake and small mouse. In the unlit bathroom this snake gave me quiet the scare as I couldn't see it well enough to tell what it was initially. It was just a snake curling up the wall in the corned of the room while a mouse ran frantically back and forth across the other wall. I figured it'd be rattlin away if it were a rattle snake but I opened the door a crack to let the light in and saw it was a bullsnake. Easy! I picked him up and showed off the snake in the bathroom. We all held it and got some photos and let it go...outside of the bathroom. And as for the mouse he ran out the door when I left.
For dinner we had franken pancakes and sausage and chilled out for a while before our highly anticipated owling at 9.
See the next entry for part 2