Sunday, March 1, 2020

2019 In Review – August in Texas, Santa Fe, England, Albuquerque, and Arizona

Around a quarter of my tours these days are private tours. Still organized by WINGS if they’re longer than a day or two, they just involve clients who want to travel on their own or with friends they know, and I just work out the timing and destination with them. In early August this year I guided repeat clients Pam and Lynn on a short tour to Big Bend National Park, during a time of year that few birders visit it. Normally, with regular afternoon thunderstorms, the climate is quite pleasant in the mountains, and it can be cool in the afternoons. But we hit it during a dry spell, and it was usually quite hot.

Still, we managed to see the Colima Warbler that makes this place famous, as well as many other fine birds, such as Gray Vireo and Black-capped Vireo. We just barely got a Lucifer Hummingbird, a female that came to my owl imitations. We also did a night drive, and thanks to a tip from my friend Chris Benesh found this really cool scorpion, Diplocentrus whitei.
Diplocentrus whitei

After this tour I had some time off, during which I planned to finally take in the Santa Fe Opera. Getting from El Paso to Santa Fe isn’t easy, and it was going to involve a long layover in Phoenix, then arriving in Albuquerque, and then the transfer to Santa Fe. A change of aircraft, followed by a flight cancellation resulted in not only a $100 voucher from American Airlines, but an alternative route that flew me first to Dallas, a short layover, and then directly to Santa Fe. American wouldn’t have apologized so profusely if they had know that’s where I was going to anyway. In Santa Fe, I was the guest of new friend JP, and of course thanks to Andrew for inviting me.

I knitted some, visited the yarn shop, caught up with friends Kipp and Hal, and went to a chamber music performance, in addition to three evenings at the spectacular Santa Fe Opera House (the Apprentice Scenes, La Bohème, and Cosi fan tutte).

In the middle of August I flew to London where I met up with Steve Howell, and together we drove up to Rutland Water to represent WINGS and Sunbird at the annual Bird Fair. It’s a huge three-day event with many giant event tents erected in a series of fields near a lake, more or less in the middle of England. I don’t know how many thousands of people attend, but it was a busy three days.

This was the Sunbird booth, which was usually a very lively scene, with many well-known birders, authors, and artists stopping by to chat, as well as many future and past tour participants. The Bird Fair has been described as one incomplete conversation after another for three full days, but it was a blast.

I returned to Santa Fe for just a couple more days, where Andrew managed to drag me off on a morning of bicycling. Otherwise I mostly edited photo and knitted, as well as signed one form after another online as the closing date of my new home drew near, and inspections and such were happening.

After Santa Fe, I returned to Albuquerque for the Western Field Ornithologists annual meeting, where I signed up as a participant rather than a leader. To get there, I drove Andrew’s car, while he first biked south from Albuquerque to a meeting point. Then we drove together from there to Sandia Crest, where I dropped him off and met up with him again at a yarn shop in Albuquerque. It’s a very fast ride down, and he almost beat me.

The WFO meeting was great fun, lots of super people, presentations, field trips, and a very strong contingent of youth who are the future leaders of organizations like this.

Of course we saw many fine birds, but I thought that I’d post this photo of a particularly cool moth I found on one of them – the geometrid Stamnodes fervefactaria.
Stamnodes fervefactaria

From Albuquerque I returned to Tucson for one last week and a half of getting ready for the move.

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