Friday, March 15, 2013

To BC and Adventure, Tuesday, March 12

I was not sure that I would have internet access on my Droid Razr in Canada; therefore, I printed out all itineraries that I thought I would need for my trip.  My plan was to try for the Red-flanked Bluetail first and then the Brambling, both in the Vancouver area.  Then take a BC Ferry to Victoria Island to try for the Citrine Wagtail.  The Bluetail and the Brambling appeared to be more reliable, but the Citrine Wagtail was harder to see and might require more time.  If time permitted, I could try for the Skylark near Victoria.  John Puschock suggested this strategy, and I agreed to it. 

I got to the airport in Dayton and made my flight to Chicago after not sleeping on Monday night.  I slept most of the one hour American Eagle flight to Chicago, and planned to sleep on the rest of the trip to Seattle on Alaska Airlines, which was also booked under American Airlines.  As the boarding process started, I heard them mention Delta Gold members.  I remembered that I had a Delta Sky Miles card, and that Alaska Airlines and Delta have a reciprocal agreement.  I asked the attendant to see if they could give me mileage credit on my Sky Miles card and the computer system took it.  As the seating progressed, a man who looked the part of an outdoor guy took the aisle seat, looked at my USCG LORSTA ATTU hat, and asked if I worked there.   I said no, but I birded at Attu Island.  That's how I met Jeffrey Sauer, an attorney, who lives in Juneau, Alaska, but is originally from Cincinnati, OH, the west side.  Jeff and his wife have in the past led natural history tours on boat trips out the Aleutians.  Jeff is also a birder, and showed me that he had brought his Birding magazine along to read.  He was returning from a trip to Cincinnati, where his brother still lives and to visit his aging father in Mason.  I worked at the Mason business center for P&G.  It sure can be a small world.  We had a really interesting conversation about birding in general, my plans for my Big Year, and Alaskan birders that he knew and whom I met on my previous four trips to Alaska.  Finally, we shared e-mail addresses.  I gave him my blog address.  If a Steller's Sea-Eagle shows up this year in Juneau as it did in the distant past, I will be in contact with Jeff.

I picked up my rental car, and then discovered that I had neglected to bring the car charging cable from my car at the airport in Dayton.  On the way north from Seattle to Vancouver, I stopped for lunch and at a Best Buy, bought a car charging cable.  On my way north I saw Glaucous-winged Gull and saw swans in fields along the interstate.  The identification of the swans would need to wait for a better look.  My first stop was Queen's Park in New Westminster where the Red-flanked Bluetail was being seen.  But wait, welcome to Seattle and Vancouver!  It was raining since I arrived in Seattle and continued at a steady pace when I got to Queen's Park in New Westminster.  I walked around getting acquainted with the area based on the directions given for finding the Red-flanked Bluetail.  I heard a winter wren signing, probably a Pacific Wren, the relatively new species split from the eastern Winter Wren.  I will wait to count it until I actually get a look at the bird.  There were Varied Thrushes singing their slow series of trilled notes on different pitches.  I found a beautiful male at the top of a deciduous tree.   I heard Brown Creepers and saw "funny" crows that seemed smaller than the American Crows of Ohio, and the voices of these "funny" crows were more hoarse sounding and lower.  These are probably Northwestern Crows, but I will wait until tomorrow to confirm.   The weather was becoming more miserable by the minute and it was getting darker.  I decided to find a motel nearby and try for the Red-flanked Bluetail in the morning.  During a stop at a gas station to top  off the tank on my rental car, I asked about local motels.  This strategy was needed, because I had also discovered that I no longer had internet access on my Droid Razr.  A customer in the gas station overheard my conversation and suggested that I try Kingsway or 12th Street and gave me directions to get there.  I found a Best Western Motel which offered free Wifi and breakfast.  So, I stayed the night close to Queen's Park.  Glaucous-winged Gull and Varied Thrush bring the total to 169.           

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