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March 21, 2005

last night I dreamt of San Pedro...

I'm in Sierra Vista, AZ, near the Fort Huachuca Army base, until tomorrow. Today I went looking for one birding spot, but got lost and happened to find the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area instead, managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It's an area that preserves one of the imporant North/South migratory hotspots on this continent, in this case the route some birds take from Mexico to Coastal Western US. Along the way is the San Pedro river, which provides shelter in the form of cottonwood trees in an otherwise migratory bird-unfriendly route, and of course water in most cases too. I was able to spot the very pretty vermillion flycatcher, but it was too early to spot a green kingfisher.

I strolled out into the desert from the riverside to investigate strange burrows (desert owls, tarantulas, rattlesnakes?) and owl barfings in the sand, and found a pottery sherd! I'll have Homer identify it tomorrow. Homer has been a font of overwhelming cultural and archaeological information while he's been the lovely host that he is. So far he's shown me ancient rock art, the location of every single canal and Hohokan village site in Tucson, and his entire ancient terra cotta dildo collection from the Mizquakozoic (11,000 - 6,000 B.C.) period of human settlement in the Arizona region.

Anyway, I did manage to find the City of Sierra Vista wastewater treatment facility, which treats secondary sewage naturally through a series of aerated ponds. Waterfowl that normally wouldn't be attracted to this area gather in the ponds to feed and breed. I've been to similar areas in Central Asia. Sounds gross, but it's an effective way to treat sewage in arid regions near mountains. There was a nice visitor bird viewing platform with no one there but me.

Then I made my way to the mountains to a natural area preserved by the Nature Conservancy, called Ramsey Canyon. Only one hummingbird spotted, as it was windy and cold. But the hike and view were nice and I got a bit of a workout going up the mountain.

Here at my hotel, are a lot of tanned buzzcut military woofers using the hotel for temporary housing. baw chikka baw-waawww... There is pleasant scenery going by in the lobby as I blog here like a geek. An added benefit of this is that these boys go to bed early, like the place is quiet by 9pm.

I am a man of many faces. The circus was in town last night, and as I was dining in the local KFC which was near the circus, someone asked me, "Are you here with the circus?" Then today at the conservation area, someone asked me if I was a park ranger. And later on at the conservancy, I was mistaken for a Nature Conservancy volunteer. What do I look like, a volunteer park ranger clown? I bet that would rile up Glennalicious in some way or another. Perhaps I'll wear my volunteer park ranger clown outfit at the NYC blogger gathering in May.

Throughout the day I've been rubbing elbows with birders. They are a strange bunch. If any of them see you with a Peterson's Field Guide or pair of binoculars, and you're approaching them from a direction that they have not been, they will immediately ask you, "WHAT BIRDS HAVE YOU SEEN?" without so much as a salutation. But it is perhaps its own salutation. They are usually cute older retired couples (people of temporal longevity), and I often wonder which one got the other one into the hobby. Or does one just go along with the other and has long ago given up on lobbying for other forms of recreation?

What was also notable is that I'm the youngest birder I've seen all day - by at least 20 years. Is it my ultimate destiny to become the MASTER BIRDER OF THE UNIVERSE? With Alaskan, Pacific Northwest, Pacific pelagic, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, Gulf Coast, Central American, Central Asian, European and North Woods species under my belt, I got a lotta species seen. Fear my power. Cower when I wield my optics. Kneel as I refer to my field guide. Do not question my identification authority.

Posted by jimbo at March 21, 2005 7:37 PM


I hope you see that rarest of species, the Greater Sonoran Cockerell. Sometimes late at night I hear its plaintive cry, "baw chicka baw-waww."

Posted by: homer at March 21, 2005 10:46 PM

I wonder if that KFC sells more than JUST chicken?

Posted by: Lee at March 22, 2005 12:33 AM

The power is yours! lol

Posted by: moby at March 22, 2005 3:02 PM

Small world -- my parents lived for a very brief time (not brief enough, by their description) in Sierra Vista. You know what the town is nicknamed? Sorry Vista. Of course, they weren't looking for the local "baw chicka baw-waww" wildlife....

Posted by: Jeffrey at March 22, 2005 5:11 PM

I was a teenage birder. Of course, there's not much to see here in Manhattan, other than identifying various pigeon pathologies.

I can't believe you ate at KFC on a birding trip. You are twisted.

Posted by: Eric at March 22, 2005 5:21 PM

There are worse things to be mistaken for than a Nature Conservancy Volunteer, except for maybe in Southern Oregon where they are shot at.


Posted by: TonkaManOR at March 23, 2005 12:28 PM