Butterflies, Birds and that Darn Shrike

Updated 1/26/16–For those of you coming to this post because of the Mendocino Shrike you can scroll down to the end of it for a link to a North American Birds article just recently published. The authors Peter Pyle, Jon Dunn, Nial Moores and Robert Keiffer conclude that the shrike is a Red-backedXTurkestan Shrike hybrid.

Because I just recently photographed an unusual and uncommon butterfly and I'm excited about it, I'm going to start with butterflies today. Screw the update on the shrike. You'll have to go through butterflies to get to it.

Normally my pictures of butterflies are of species that are common (except maybe for the Green Comma). Two Tuesdays ago I was on a coastal birding trip with Chuck Vaughn, President of the Peregrine Audubon Society and Mendocino County Ebird reviewer. The birding sucked but I had told Chuck that I now stopped for butterflies. While we we looking for shorebirds from the bluffs overlooking Virgin Creek Beach a small bluish green butterfly caught my eye.

My first problem was trying to name this butterfly. All of my butterfly books had a different name for it. Kaufman had it as a Coastal Green Hairstreak. Glassberg had it as a Bramble Hairstreak. Shapiro has it as a “Coastal” Bramble Hairstreak.

Art Shapiro in his Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions had this to say about it.

This is one of our worst taxonomic nightmares. Scarcely any two authorities agee on the limits of species, or to what named entity various populations should be assigned, or even on the correct biological entity to which some of the names refer.

I guess some progress has been made in sorting all this out. Sometime back I had gotten an account with Butterflies and Moths of North America in hopes of uploading some of my sightings to their website. I decided to try it for the first time with this Hairstreak. I received a response almost immediately.

This is actually Callophrys viridis since a decision by the ICZN. Callophrys dumetorum now applies to what was called C. perplexa. BAMONA has not adjusted this yet-Ken Davenport. Yours thus becomes an important record.

When the reviewer stated , “Yours thus becomes an important record.” it gave me a warm feeling. ICZN stands for the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. I guess we will call this butterfly a Coastal Green Hairstreak for the time being. You can read about the ICZN's decision in the News of the Lepidopterists' Society's (Yes–I did go there!!!) newsletter.

NatureServe, An Online Encyclopedia of Life states,

Very limited range and scarce and local in most of it. Already extirpated around San Francisco. Almost all habitats subject to disturbance or destruction from development. Loss of host plant through competition from exotics is a threat to some populations. For now believed to be over 20 extant occurrences but with threats, this species could be or become globally imperiled.

You can read about the Green Hairstreak Project in San Francisco that is trying to link up isolated Green Hairstreak populations in the city in an attempt to keep them from going extinct.

Enough about Coastal Green Hairstreaks. Let's give the Edith's Checkerspot some love. It's a striking butterfly and they are now flying. This one was found in the grassy part of the trail to Virgin Creek Beach.

Orange Sulfurs are a common butterfly but you rarely see them with open wings. This is a female found recently north of Lake Cleone.

While trying to get a decent picture of the Orange Sulfur this handsome Brewer's Blackbird walked by eating from the flowers of the nearby ice plant. It's rare for me to get just the perfect light on a blackbird to show off it's iridescence.

Sora are listed as rare in Mendocino County. They are seldom seen. This one was swimming out in the open in a marshy area at Lake Cleone.

This Bonaparte's Gull was found at Virgin Creek. While not rare in Mendocino County you can see that this bird is oiled on it's left flank. Just yesterday on an SOS Survey at Virgin Creek Beach I noticed another black-headed gull flying over me. Based on the underwing pattern it was an extremely rare Franklin's Gull. Sorry–there wasn't time to get a picture as it disappeared to the south.

Finally we come to an update on the shrike as yet not identified. Is it a Brown Shrike, Red-backed Shrike or some form of hybrid?

On April 16th I received a morning call from Alison Cebula of California State Parks asking if I would like to help her with a Snowy Plover Survey in the Manchester State Park area. Alison as you might remember was the person who originally discovered the shrike at Alder Creek. I hustled down to the Van Damme Beach parking lot where she picked me up for the ride down the coast. We surveyed the Brush Creek area first and arrived at Alder Creek around 1:30PM. There were four birders at the overlook two local and two from the San Francisco Bay Area. The shrike was easy to find in the willows where Alison had first found it. I got a few pictures of it. I'm sure that a more assertive photographer could have done better.

After surveying the beach we came back to find the two Bay Area birders off the path and part way down the slope.

Alison asked them to get back on the path. They were unaware of Alison's and California State Park's concerns about endangered species in the area. Apparently they were also unaware of the poison oak.

This was the last day that the shrike was seen. I figured that I was the second to last person to see it. I find it to be the irony of all ironies that Alison was there when it was found and was there when it left. (Maybe!–see note below)

So now the call has gone out from the California Bird Records Committee for any and all documentation on this shrike. Joseph Morlan, the chair of that committee, was at one time certain that the shrike was a Red-backed Shrike. Based on a discussion on Surfbirds.com he's now sure that it's not a Red-backed but what is it?

Thanks for the new image which bears some resemblance to our bird. Expert opinion remains divided with at least two authorities confident that our bird is L. collurio X L. isabellinus while you and others support L. cristatus lucionensis. I now have a copy of Panov's monograph on shrikes which offers several other hybrid combinations which we had not considered including the possibility of L. cristatus X L. isabellinus. None of these taxa have been recorded in North America except nominate L. cristatus; the photos are pretty good; but we remain frustrated that this bird may never be identified to any level of certainty. Thanks again for any additional input you may be able to offer.

Joe Morlan

So birders that traveled many miles might never get a definitive identification for this bird. I don't know what that does for listers. STAY TUNED.

Note: In doing some research on this post I found some indication that a birder from British Columbia submitted some pictures taken on April 22nd which would indicate that the shrike was still in the area later then thought and even might still be there.

UPDATE (10/4/15): The September issue of the Falcon Flyer published by the Peregrine Audubon had a SPRING 2015 BIRDS roundup. It stated,

The spring birding period includes the months of March thru May, a very active time for bird migration and nesting. The highlight this spring was a vagrant hybrid SHRIKE, apparently of Asian origin, and its true lineage has yet to be sorted out. The bird, originally thought to be a Brown Shrike, was found by AC on 3/5 at the mouth of Alder Creek near Manchester. It was seen by literally hundreds of curious birders before it disappeared on 4/22.

Note the use of the terms HYBRID SHRIKE. This statement has some authority because one of authors of the article is Bob Keiffer. Bob Keiffer is working with Peter Pyle, Nial Moores, and Jon Dunn on an article for North American Birds (NAB) trying to determine the lineage of this bird. I know this because they have asked permission to use one of my pictures.

The link to the NAB article can be found here.

Joseph Morlan is now calling this shrike a Red-backed ShrikeXRed-tailed Shrike based on information from Peter Pyle.

If this confirmation holds-up it will certainly be a disappointment for the hundreds of curious birders that came from as far away as Rhode Island to see it. The American Birding Association(ABA) establish the rules for listing.

RULE 2: The bird must have been a member of a species currently listed on the ABA Checklist for lists within the ABA Area, on the AOU Check-list for lists outside the ABA Area and within the AOU Area, or on the Clements Checklist for all other areas.

(vii) hybrids are not countable. Any bird with physical characteristics outside the natural range of variation for the species and clearly suggesting that it is a hybrid should be treated as a hybrid under the ABA Recording Rules. Song in oscine passerines is a learned behavior and should not be used as evidence of hybridization with that group.

With a warming planet caused by putting carbon into the atmosphere that a lot of wasted carbon chasing a bird you can't list.

 

 

 

 

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Dorian Anderson Does It!

If this post looks familiar to you it's because I wrote it just seven days ago. Why would I repost this article? It's because I want to show you the different reactions to Dorian Anderson's tremendous achievement and Neil Heyward's conventional if record breaking Big Year in 2013. There has been NO reaction at the American Birding Association(ABA) to Dorian's efforts nine days after his year ended. Bear in mind that he was out there raising money for them. I am going to re-tag this post to include the ABA. In 2013 I was able to connect my blog to their's using this method. Don't know if it still works but I will find out. More on this below my post congratulating Dorian Anderson.

Congratulations go out to Dorian Anderson for successfully and safely completing his Biking for Birds Big Year. This was Dorian's pledge when he started his birding adventure.

I, Dorian Anderson, will travel only by bike, foot, and kayak as I move about the continent in search of birds. My movements will be unaided by petroleum, natural gas, and electricity. I will not have a support vehicle; everything I need will be carried on my person and my bicycle. This Big Year permutation will certainly add an unprecedented level of adventure to the endeavor, and it should set a new standard for environmentally sustainable travel.

His early estimate of bird species he expected to find was between 550 and 600. His final total is 617 with the possibility of an additional Red-legged Honeycreeper if the Texas Rare Bird Committee approves it.

He visited 28 states, biked 17,830 miles, walked 493 miles and kayaked 8 miles. He had 34 flat tires, 1 broken spoke, and 1 broken dérailleur cable. He raised over $45,000 for bird conservation and birding programs.

He has set a record for the most birds seen without using a carbon producing vehicle. We will see if anyone in the birding community will attempt to break it. Most birders like to bird using the comforts of their cars. Maybe the next attempt at a birding big year should be using public transportation.

You can see Dorian's final 2014 post at his Biking For Birds Blog. You can still hit the donation button.

 

Here is an email that I sent to Nate Swick, ABA's blog manager on January 3rd.

Nate–Dorian Anderson has completed his Biking for Birds big year. In fact it's been 3 days now going on 4. He was actually out there raising money for the ABA. Why the silence on his efforts? You should be featuring him prominently on your blog just because of his efforts. I would bet that by this time last year Neil Hayward received more blog time and as far as I know he wasn't raising any money for ABA. Maybe Neil can get on a bike and challenge Dorian's record.

Richard Hubacek

Little River, CA

OK it was a little snarky! Here is Nate's reply on the fourth.

I haven't silenced his efforts. I just have a ton of other stuff backed up that I need to get published. We'll have something on Dorian very soon.

NS

Of course I hadn't claimed that he had “intentionally” silenced Dorian's efforts, it's just that no one at the ABA seems to be excited about them. Nate was excited with Neil Heyward's efforts. He was on the boat when Neil Heyward's broke Sandy Komito's record on December 28, 2013. You can read about Nate's excitement on the ABA's blog. Note the title, Neil Hayward Does It! Sort of like my title for this post. Other members of the ABA staff were out with Neil during his year especially in Alaska. To be fair I read where some members of ABA's staff met up with Dorian early in his year and one, Diana Doyle, a green birder and writer for Birding, actually rode with him. There may have been others. Nate also wrote a blog titled, Gunning For ABA Big Year on the 6th of December, 2013. There was the Hayward vs Komito: A Look at the Playing Field by Greg Neise on December 27th. There was the Congratulations Neil! by Lynn Barber on December 31st. The ABA let Neil Hayward announce the ABA's Bird of the Year during an interview. I think I'm safe when I say that there was lot's of excitement at the end of 2013 because of Neil Hayward. None so far for Dorian Anderson. Maybe it's because Dorian was setting a record and not breaking one (although I think he broke a few) but I'm afraid that it's the culture of birding in general and at the ABA specifically. I hope they make a big deal when he hands them a big fat check.

Update: Before someone makes a big deal out of it, there was one “biking” Big Year featured on January 2, 2014. It was titled, An Interview with Ron Beck: Big Green Year Record-breaker.

As for the culture of birding and the ABA mentioned above, I wrote in 2013, a post called, Is the ABA Schizophrenic? It wasn't one of my best written posts but I sure liked the title.


 

Another Birding Report

It's been a little while since I've written about the local birds that have been seen in Mendocino County so let's do that now.

Starting off where I ended with the last birding post is the group of six Aleutian Cackling Geese that were in a field along the Haul Road north of Fort Bragg back on October 24th. One of the birds had a blue neck collar. The band on it's right leg can't be seen in this picture.

I reported the Cackling Goose to the people at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Bird Banding Laboratory which is part of the United States Geological Survey. It's was easy to do in this case because the collar number was easy to see. The website can be found here. In many cases they depend on amateur birders like me to report these bands to them. They provide you with a Certificate of Appreciation with the full details on the reported bird. This is what it looks like.

It feels good to be appreciated. I saw several large flocks Of Cackling Geese fly over this Fall. This is just a small part of a large flock (220+) that flew over the community of Mendocino.

Next up on this list is a Mute Swan. Mute Swans had been reported on the Noyo River, Pudding Creek (as a Tundra Swan by one Ebirder) and this one at Lake Cleone. They are probably all the same bird.

All reports of Mute Swans in California have been rejected by the California Bird Record Committee. It's felt that they are all escapees from private collections.

A bird that is all wild is this American Advocet on Virgin Creek. It was there on October 30th, a fairly late date for Mendocino County.

Early in November there were several reports of Eurasian Wigeons in Mendocino County. This “bright” male was on the Caspar Pond.

During a SOS Survey at Virgin Creek Beach on the 11th of November, the best bird wasn't a shorebird. It was a Rock Wren. Rock Wren are listed as rare in this county but can be found regularly inland on the Lake Mendocino Dam. Very few are found on the coast. I like this picture because the colorations in the rock match the colorations in the bird. I heard that a fellow birder chasing the wren found a very rare Sage Thrasher in the same area. I think I should get partial credit for the Sage Thrasher:>)

On the way back from the SOS Survey there was this Lapland Longspur right beside the new bike path at Glass Beach. Based on Ebird it's the only one reported this year.

I have many of the MTA bus drivers reporting birds they have seen. I told them to be on the lookout for big white geese among the many flocks of Canada Geese they go by that are mostly on school playgrounds. Last Thursday one of them reported seeing two white geese at the Redwood School. By the time I got there they were gone. To avoid the Pineapple Express storm coming in I went into town to do my SOS Survey on Tuesday. Coming up to the Redwood School playground I saw two Snow Geese with the Canada Geese. I told the driver to slow down so I could get some pictures. She stopped and asked if I wanted to get out to take the pictures. I was the only one on the bus. I said “no” and snapped off a few shots through the window and fence of the school yard. Probably should have got out. Most of the pictures were bad.

Virgin Creek Beach was very dramatic that day. There was a 6' tide and a high surf event that left little beach to survey except the main beach. Have recently been finding Bonaparte's Gulls during the surveys. Found 5 that day and 3 more at Big River. That's a little unusual for this time of year.

 

I like Bonaparte's Gulls. They are graceful flyers and I have seen these birds dive into the water feeding.

After the survey I went up to Laguna Point to look for a Rock Sandpiper. The only one reported this year on Ebird was actually a Dunlin. This identification was caught by the reviewer. It took me a few minutes but one turned up. We only get a few at this time of the year. They are more common further north.

At the Laguna Point parking lot there was a very “friendly” Brant hanging out. An old timer said it had been there for a week. One of my bus drivers said that there had been two of them there.

On my SOS Surveys I've started to find evidence of the COASST program. They survey beaches for dead seabirds which they tag and record. This is what a dead seabird looks like when they are done with their survey. I think this is a small Eared or Horned Grebe but I'm not sure and neither or they.

That's the end of the birding news for now. The Fort Bragg Christmas Bird Count(CBC) is coming up two Saturday's from now. I've decided to rerun my comments from last year about CBC counts with a few notes added. Look for it soon.

Birding at the Little River Airport has been pretty slow. Recent rains have filled the ponds and flooded the trail to the airport. I did however have an encounter with a dangerous animal while at one of the ponds. It just didn't want me to get by. It was like a horror movie. I escaped with my life.

 

 

 

 

CONGRATULATIONS To Dorian Anderson.

Just a short post to congratulate Dorian Anderson for reaching and smashing through his goal of finding 600 species of birds during his BIKING FOR BIRDS YEAR. All this happened yesterday, Thanksgiving Day.

His current stats are 604 species with several that will have to be approved by birding committees.

States visited is 28. Miles biked is currently at 16,277. Miles walked is currently 448. Money raised for bird conservation and birding programs is currently at $29,064.25 and flat tires is at 34.

If you hurry you can read about his goal reaching day here. If you wait you will have to scroll down.

A Red-legged Honeycreeper!!! You've got to be kidding?

 

Dear Brigid

Dear Brigid:

I have been receiving many emails from you and David Yarnold. Most have been fundraising emails that are attached to some bird conservation issue. I almost always take action on the conservation issues and sometimes donate money. Of course the big news and conservation issue lately has been Audubon’s report on, Birds and Climate Change. Let me say that I’m impressed with the report and have signed up as an activist. Let me also say that it’s about time! The previous Audubon Climate Change Campaign was seriously deficient even though the science has been clear for a long time. I would like to take a few moments to explain why I don’t think Audubon is asking enough of birders on this issue and where I think Audubon can do a better job at reducing carbon emissions.

There are actually two reasons for reducing our use of fossil fuels. One is the climate change caused by burning them and the other is the death and destruction that comes from the exploration and production. My earliest memories of oiled birds go back to the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill. Throw in the Exxon Valdez, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Houston Ship Channel spill, the Lac-Mégantic train derailment, the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill and look at pictures of Alberta tar sands production. Exploding trains and burst pipelines are getting to be an everyday thing. Thousands of birds die in oil-industry pits and wastewater disposal facilities. People living close to refineries, generally low income, suffer from the effects of pollution. Very few people think about these things. It’s the price we pay for the good life we have become accustomed to. Audubon members should have these disasters in the back of their minds every time they drive off to chase a bird or take a birding trip to some far off place.

As I read it, the Audubon Climate Campaign asks members to do six things. Take the pledge, create a bird-friendly yard, get involved with a local important bird area, put birds on your community’s agenda, meet with local decision makers and support policies that lower emissions. Most of these are things that Audubon members are already doing. I don’t find anything in the plan that would be hard. Why not ask birders to think about how they bird?

It was marvelous irony that the special issue on Birds and Climate Change was preceded by the July/August, Audubon that featured Neil Hayward as King Bird. Let’s review his carbon output. 28 states and 7 provinces visited. 197,758 miles flown, 51,758 miles driven, and 147 hours at sea. Further irony was the article on greening our pets in the same issue. Birders are competitive. There’s probably someone out there now trying to take that crown away from Neil.

The “old” Audubon Climate Campaign had this to say, “Use public transportation, ride your bicycle, walk, carpool, and drive a more energy-efficient vehicle.” That’s no longer in your plan. It seems it’s OK for birders to continue their carbon producing ways and let science and politicians solve the problem. Birders chase birds. They do “big” years and days. They travel far and wide to add to their lists. Check out Birding Magazine’s Milestones section. All that carbon and other climate change gases are still up there in the atmosphere and will be there for many years.

Audubon also wants us to continue our participation in citizen science projects. I can see no effort on Audubon’s part to green-up these projects. For at least three years I have done shorebird surveys for a group called Save Our Shorebirds (SOS) here in Mendocino County. I had to travel a good distance to get to my survey area. Realizing that rising sea levels were not good for shorebirds I changed the way I got there. I now use a combination of personal vehicle, bus and bike. That worked so well that I used that combination to do a “green county” year in 2013. I saved almost 3,000 carbon producing vehicle miles, had a good time doing it, saw plenty of birds and continue to bird that way.

The 112th Christmas Bird Count (CBC) used 583,164 car miles to just count birds inside the circle. That doesn’t count car miles to get to the circle. The Audubon website still features the exploits of the “Mad Counter”. He boasted of doing 23 counts (the max you can do) during the 104th CBC. He drove just over 7100 miles and was obviously a danger to himself and others while on the road. You can read about him here It is my experience many birders do several if not many CBCs during the count year. They travel many miles to do that. I bike my section of the Fort Bragg CBC. They were the only bike miles in any of the Mendocino County counts. Audubon makes no effort to reduce that car mileage. They should get their birding house in order.

From my research on climate change I have found that we are rapidly using up our carbon budget. It will be hard if not impossible to keep temperatures from rising to dangerous levels. A gridlocked congress is not going to help us. We all need to look at how we work and play. We need to look at where we work, what we eat, and how we travel. We are all carbon polluters. There are many personal ways to reduce our carbon pollution. Audubon needs to point that out.

Thank you for your time. A Long-billed Curlew also gives me a thrill when I see one.

Richard Hubacek

Little River, CA

Brigid McCormack is the Executive Director of Audubon California and a Vice President of National Audubon Society.

 

Birding News

I haven’t done any birding news for awhile. This started out as a “green” birding blog so I should tell you what’s been happening in the Mendocino birding world? 

The last birding post was about Laguna Marsh, part of the Big River Spring bird surveys. They are finished. The final leg was the East Haul Road. This section is the least diverse, bird wise, of all the three surveys. As you go further east you get down to just a few different birds. Wilson’s Warblers, Pacific-slope Flycatchers, Swainson’s Thrushes are the “big” three.

Pictured above are Nicolet Houtz, Trails & Big River Stewardship Coordinator, and Emily Merfeld, Paul Siegel Salmon Restoration Intern, looking east on the Haul Road. Both are with the Mendocino Land Trust, the sponsor of the surveys. I actually did five survey for them. Two West Haul Road, two Laguna Marsh and one East Haul Road surveys. Ever present were the mosquitos this year, the worst I’ve ever seen.

On June 8th, I posted this announcement on our local MendoBirds website:

8 June, 2014–Sunday–This morning and early afternoon there has been a female MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD at the Little River Airport. First found it on a power pole at the entrance road to the airport. Later viewed it near the windsock and hovering out in the center of the airport and when I left it was along the hangers on the taxiway going west.

Since it was a female I have spent some time with my bird books to make sure of the ID.

If you plan on chasing it, remember that it is a working FAA controlled airport.

Richard Hubacek
Little River

This was a new Mendocino County bird for me and they are quite rare in the county. Because it was the first female MOBL I’ve seen, it confused me for awhile. Until I saw the blue on it’s rump I wasn’t sure.

After talking to the airport manager the following week I posted this announcement on the Mendocino bird website:

Sat. 6/14/14–This morning I was doing my usual birding at the Little River Airport and happened to start a conversation with the airport’s manager. I started the conversation with the announcement of a rare Mountain Bluebird last Sunday. He said he knew all about it and proceeded to tell me several stories about birders chasing it. One birder after watching plane activity proceeded to walk out on the active runway. Another group of birders decided to form a car caravan and drove out on the taxiway, stopped on it and got out and set up their scopes. He related a plane on the taxiway having to stop because of people in it’s way. 

Because of this conversation I will no longer be posting rare birds at the airport on this website. I will probably delay reporting them on Ebird as well.

I realized, in thinking about this issue, that I failed to follow the ABA’s Code of Birding Ethics. 1(c) states, “Before advertising the presence of a rare bird, evaluate the potential for disturbance to the bird, its surroundings, and other people in the area, and proceed only if access can be controlled, disturbance minimized, and permission has been obtained from private land-owners.” 

 I would suggest that all birders read this “Code of Birding Ethics” frequently. It can be found on the American Birding Association’s Website.   http://www.aba.org/about/ethics.html

After birding the airport for many years I can’t afford to let inconsiderate birders close off my local patch.

Richard Hubacek

Little River

Birders can be such idiots at times but I received several good replies to my announcement.

I am still doing my SOS Shorebird Surveys at Virgin Creek Beach. Still taking the bus and my bike to do them. The official start of the new season started on July 1st. It been quiet, shorebird wise, for most of the year but I had the earliest (for me) returning Western Sandpipers on June 19th.

 

On June 27th, a Friday, I received a call from Karen Havlena. She said that Dorothy “Toby” Tobkin had found a Black Skimmer on Virgin Creek Beach. This was Mendocino County’s first Black Skimmer. It created a dilemma for me. There was no chance of catching the bus. There was no one, that I knew of, going into Fort Bragg to hitch a ride with. What to do? I got into my truck and chased it. I was successful.
This bird was banded and I’m sure we will find out it’s history. Some people have said that this could be a possible result of an impending El Niño with it’s warming waters. This leads me to my guilt about the extra carbon I put into the air. I personally put over 27 pounds of carbon and other climate warming gases into the air. See this EPA site to see how I calculated this. People from Lake County chased this bird. It’s was a carbon producing bird. 

Based on my last post, “Care to Join the Debate–Carbon Offsets” I have decided to give a small donation to a birding organization. Which one should I choose? The Cornell Lab of Ornithology might be a good choice but they never answered my letter and I’m no longer a member. They still sponsor extreme birding fundraisers. How about National Audubon? I was shocked to see that their latest issue of Audubon Magazine (July-August 2014) featured Neil Hayward and his 2013 Big Year. No mention of their climate change policies but they want us to green our pets.  And there’s still no mention of “greening” their Christmas Bird Counts. The American Birding Association (ABA) is gradually bringing the subject of climate change to their members but it is still the “listing” center of the birding world. So I’ve decided on the American Bird Conservancy (ABC). As far as I can find out they don’t sponsor extreme birding and walk the walk on their climate policies. They also do good things for birds. I will suggest that they establish a new bird chasing “guilt” fundraiser. It might catch on.

Wrap Up 2–The Logistics

I find that maybe I should have been keeping track of a few more things during my “Green Birding Mendo” year. My final total for carbon producing truck miles saved was 2929 miles. I could have easily broken the 3000 mile barrier with just another trip over to Ukiah but my final birds to chase were on the coast. Maybe I should have kept a record of how many bus miles I rode.

Taken from the MTA Facebook page. Unknown photographer.

Maybe I should have recorded how many senior bus passes I used during the year. Maybe I should have recorded the bike miles. Maybe I should have kept track of how much money I saved biking and riding the bus. Well I didn’t, so we will never know those stats. 

I do know that I completed two Save Our Shorebirds (SOS) surveys at Virgin Creek Beach and a trip over to Ukiah without using my truck. They were totally bus and bike trips. I’m proud of those trips but wouldn’t want to make a habit of doing them because of the ride up Little River Airport Road which is bad enough but in the winter they would be in the dark.

My main goal was to reduce my birding carbon footprint during the year. I only filled my truck 8 times, an average of once every month and a half. Most of that was used to get to bus stops and the necessities of life.

I made 8 trips over to Ukiah by bus. Normally I wouldn’t do that more than 3 times but a round trip was only $5.00 for this senior birder. My trips to Ukiah included two bike rides to the top of the Mendocino Dam, two to Mendocino College and one, with the help of Chuck Vaughn, to the Hopland University Research and Extension Center.

I especially want to thank Chuck for allowing me to hitch a ride with him several times. Thanks also to David Jenson, Alison Cebula, Adam Hutchins, and Ron LeValley for rides during the year. 

I extensively birded in six California State Parks and Stations, three Mendocino Land Trust Projects, and a botanical garden. Throw in a waste treatment plant, a couple of cemeteries, a couple of city parks, an airport, and a lumberyard to get a sense of my efforts. The Haul Road between the Pudding Creek Trestle and Ward Ave. became a major biking artery for my birding. I now know every bump and hole personally and will welcome the planned repairs to the road.

I had two flat tires and about 7 or 8 broken spokes during the year. Thanks goes to Jason at “Catch a Canoe & Bicycles, Too!” for keeping me on the road and helping me relearn, after many years, how to fix a flat.

There was only one time when the bus failed to show up. It had broken down in Albion. A replacement bus was on the way but I couldn’t wait for it. I think that’s a fantastic record for the amount of times I rode the MTA. There were many late buses but they were mostly caused by work being done on the roads and bridges in Mendocino County. There were also delays due to a movie being shot on the coast. These are not normal events. Thanks to Lyle, who works in Willets, for riding the bus so I could use the early bus pickup in Mendocino and add some birding time to my day. Thanks to all the nice and helpful MTA bus drivers and bus riders for making my rides entertaining. It was a learning experience. Thanks to my wife for putting up with all this during the year. 

Places I couldn’t get to were the Mendocino National Forest, the South Mendocino Coast (except for the Mendocino Coast Audubon’s hawk watching trip), and north of Ten Mile Bridge (except for the Usal Beach trip). I had planned a trip over to the Willet’s Waste Treatment Plant but they closed it to birders early in the year.

I suffered no falls or illness during my year. I did have one near miss on North State Street on my way to the Mendocino Dam. A car making a left turn across traffic couldn’t see me because the sun was in his eyes. He told me, “don’t cop an attitude. The sun was in my eyes”. I had to smile and went on my way.

There were only a few times that bus schedules got in my way. I got to know now long it took me to get from Ward Ave. to my bus stop near Denny’s or my home to the Mendocino bus stop. A couple of times I had to rush pass people I knew to make it in time. 

I was only offered illegal drugs twice by the local homeless and learned a little about the effects of mushrooms. 

Only few times, while I was biking the Haul Rd. in 20-30mph headwinds or sub-freezing temperatures, did I ask myself about why I came up with this brilliant idea.