Monday, November 16, 2015

A Break from Travel

Over the past 2 years I have been traveling occasionally for work. You have read about some of the trips including California here in the US and England, Scotland and Wales as well as Singapore and Malaysia. Those trips involved a lot of planning and allowed for some extra time for birding. This round of work trips involves one day here and one day there. Mostly on the east coast so it doesn't make sense to stay overnight and the timing is terrible for birding anyway. Chicago and Dallas, New York, Boston and Washington DC in November is not what I would call begging for birding.  

I have been traveling so often that I signed up for TSA Pre-Check so that I can keep my shoes on and put my laptop through the X-RAY without taking it out of the bag. You would think that people with this designation are savvy travelers who know the rules. Well, not always. I was in Lexington Kentucky the week of the Breeder's Cup for 2 nights. Just enough time to find a few bottles of Bourbon for gifts. I don't drink the stuff myself but I have friends who do. I spent $200 on 3 bottles of Bourbon that you can only buy in Kentucky. I dutifully packed the fragile bottles in my carry-on luggage so that they would be delivered in tact. 

Off I went to the TSA Pre-Check security checkpoint where the agent asked if I had any liquids in my bags. Why, yes. Yes I did have liquids in my bag so I proceeded to take the bottles out one at a time and place them into the bin to be put through the X-RAY. The female TSA agent that was working the machine asked if I knew about the 3 ounce liquid rule. Why yes. Yes I did know about the rule. That's why I took the bottles out of my bag. Duh, did she think I was stupid? Why yes. Yes she did think I was stupid and with good reason. You see, 3 ounces is much smaller than the 3, count em' three 750 ml bottles of Bourbon that were going through the X-RAY. What a moron. They promptly escorted me out of security and back to the ticket counter where I had to put the bottles into checked luggage and hope for the best. I don't know what I was thinking. I had it in my mind that the 3 ounce rule applied only to toothpaste and shampoo. I'm an idiot. 

This idiot caught a break over the weekend and seized the day with Harvey to go birding along upper Delaware Bay. The New Jersey birding community was a buzz with reports of Franklin's Gulls on Friday but I was in Boston and by Sunday I was still tired and interested more in spending a relaxing day with Harvey and Peanut birding to see what we could see rather than chasing a seagull.  We started at East Point Lighthouse and did really well while exploring the road and trails. Peanut flushed a Pheasant which was unexpected. We ended up with 40 species in 2 hours. 

No photos from that spot but we did manage to snap a few when we got to our second stop - Heislerville. This is a Wildlife Management Area with a few bid water impoundments. We found shorebirds including this flock of Dunlin. Look hard and you will find a single Black-bellied Plover flying with the group. 

Dunlin
 We also found 2 Western Willets in the water. All of "our" Willets which we call Eastern Willets are gone by October. Western Willets show up occassionally on their way to Florida for the winter. This one was picking the legs off of a crab.

Western Willet with Crab
On our way back to the parking area we drove past a plowed field and scanned for birds. We spotted about 30 American Pipits. Can you see 2 of them in this photo? They blend in really well.

Pipits
The most unexpected thing that we found was a butterfly in November. This is Variegated Frittalary.

Butterfly
You'll have to ask me about what else happened. I dare not put it in writing. 

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