I was greeted back to the Sierras with familiar faces, unfamiliar ones that were soon to become my summer family, and an unidentifiable shot that I downed with the usual swagger and cowboy face. The next few months were an unwritten mystery begging to be written. My love for woodpeckers bloomed tenfold, as I developed new stealthy techniques to find those pesky Black-backed woodpeckers and Flickers.
Once again based in the beautiful, quaint town of Quincy, CA; I reclaimed my title of pigtailed girl speeding down the mountain roads on WEBL (a road bike named after the bluebird).
A typical day in the field doing a point count (where one records all the birds heard/seen within five minutes at an established point):
“I stare at my GPS, trying desperately to locate point 7. Trip on fallen tree while dreaming about the almond butter, raspberry jam, and coconut sourdough sandwich in backpack. Drool. Arrive at point, throw down backpack. Realize peeing is inevitable. Enjoy nature at its finest, while hovering over a log & birding at the same time. Relocate a few meters and hit countdown timer on battered watch. Immediately and sometimes frantically write down four letter alpha codes (Lesser Goldfinch=LEGO, you get it?) as birds sing their hearts free. RBNU (Red-breasted Nuthatch, yea you’re getting it, eh?) and STJAs (Steller’s Jay) drown out all other feathered friends. I scowl at them & give the jay the finger. He seems unfazed. Was that a HEWA (Hermit Warbler) imitating a BTYW (Black-throated Gray Warbler, yup this one doesn’t follow the pattern)? Tricky tricksters. Beep beep beep, five minutes are up! I shove cracker in mouth and ambush the vegetation en route to point 8.”
The summer was this… A spattering of sparkly moments.