|Little Blue Heron|
Now hold on. It doesn't mean I've given up birds. Far from the truth. I just chased an easy state bird, the Little Blue Heron up in Phoenix last weekend. It was a beautiful morning out. At one point, it was just me and Little Blue at one of the ponds before the birders realized where s/he had gone. Then s/he flew at the sight of the little kid birder making aggressive moves along the shore to get that perfect photo. And that was my cue to go home. By that time, it was hot.
I like having the little one around. Most people hate squirrels at their feeders, but I don't. I've waited 10 years to have one visit our yard. S/he burrowed under our water fountain and lives the life. In Midtown, there's very little in the way of wildlife(besides birds and feral cats)
|Dark-lored White-crowned Sparrow|
|male Hepatic Tanager on Mt. Lemmon. If this guy came to my feeder, I'd crap myself.|
I have been out in the garden more. I am working on paint colors and a bird house project for my Lucy's Warblers next year. I know House Finches will nest in some of those boxes, but honestly, I don't care. When you walk around El Presidio, it's full of bird song and butterflies. We even have lizards and geckos.
On Mother's Day, we had a get together. As a Spanish teacher, I needed to understand better the properties of a good chocolate mole from Mexico. It's a sauce that goes over chicken normally. So we assembled the team and the Aribabi crew got together and made this time consuming mole.
I was in charge of the chili peppers which act as a base for the sauce. Jim was in charge of the special ingredients that went with the chili base. And Mary Ann made sure we followed the directions.
For once, it was nice making dinner for Kathy who usually makes all of our meals for us while we're down in Mexico during our counts and mammal tracking.
However, we had to watch Jim because he slipped in several more chocolate disks to the mole:)
I'm proud of the work we did. It's definitely a full morning of work with maybe some prep the night before. It tasted amazing and went down well with Jim's awesome margarita concoctions .
During the week with my students, I was exhausted. I'd work and go home to sleep. This is the way of the final exam schedule at my school. Meanwhile, all of my friends are in the Midwest for the Biggest Year. This is an event I'll never be able to attend thanks to finals:) By the time I retire, I'll have found all the North American Warblers I need and not have to participate in this event.
So many good memories. I remember a perfect moment from that trip. After a beautiful day at the beach at our friend's condo, we sat watching TV enjoying a beautiful Mexican sunset. No worries. No stress. Just existing in the moment.
It will be nice to revisit this area again. It's 6 hours south of Tucson near the ocean village of Guaymas where Mexico truly begins and the border culture begins to fade away.
My "work" will include an area count around the ocean front. Margaritas will be the main meal:)
This weekend we headed down to Nogales, an hour south of Tucson for a medication run. Or as I like to call it, a drug run! Medication is half to a third of the cost of what it runs in the US. Many seniors can't afford the rising costs of medical bills here in the US because of their limited budgets. Yes, the US is a disaster right now. Thankfully, Mexico is nearby and we can get prescriptions at a normal price. Then we stopped at La Roca for lunch. Yum!
I've already droned on too long, but recent events have again made me pause and reflect. Last week, I lost another former birding mentor, Bernie. I wrote about him 2 years ago in this post while we searched for his last warbler in North America. He lived an amazing life and protected important lands from industrial development. At first I was sad that he wouldn't be there when I went home to visit, but then I thought about how lucky I was to have gotten the chance to work with Bernie over the years. He was brilliant with his conservation work. His bird banding projects were genius. I remember Bernie sharing with me a story about banding Chimney Swifts!
Our final time together would happen during our Hermit Warbler search. It was an honor to have had the chance to take him out one last time to find life birds in Southern Arizona. I worked with Winnie, the cranky Park Ranger. I banded owls with Bernie. And I was a student of Doc Sontag. Doc is the last of this holy trio. Without these people, Two Rivers and Manitowoc would have developed precious land along the Lake Michigan Shoreline. They made a difference. Today, birders and nature lovers alike visit my hometown in mass numbers to visit these important natural spaces. Places like Woodland Dunes, Point Beach State Forest and the Manitowoc Impoundment are protected thanks to the dedication and leadership of these amazing people. Bernie leaves a great legacy behind.
I remember sitting on that island in the Pacific Ocean all alone, away from the modern world thinking about the great adventures ahead. At first, they were clueless treks into the unknown. But I had to start somewhere. That guy in the pic above was so naive and innocent. However, it was a pivotal moment in my life that I will never forget.
On the eve of this celebration, I will be heading to Trinidad and Tobago this June to research and observe new birds. My goal this year is to reach 1000 life birds. This island trek will be the first big mission to complete that task. I'm hoping to observe such birds as the endangered Trinidad piping guan, oilbird, honeycreepers and the national bird of Trinidad, the Scarlet Ibis. But it's the Manakins, that I hope to observe in great detail. Bernie, my Grandma, Melissa, and all those who have passed remind me to seize the moment and discover. Until next time.....