Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sept 27 (Day 270) - Seawatching, southward movement, and reader questions - part 1!

So, how many of you bit on the Speckled Hatchback? This has been a long-running personal joke of mine, and it is high time I shared it with you. It all started when I was about 11 or 12 years old when the other guys on my youth ice hockey team found out that I was a big birdwatcher. My friend RP Urban was giving me a hard time, and he said “Dude, what do you do? Go out in the woods and wait for the Speckled Hatchback to go ‘Cheep Cheep’”. He knew nothing about birds, but he had somehow managed to instantly create an outlandish yet completely believable bird name that has stuck with me to this day. As a metaphor, Speckled hatchback for me now represents anything for which a person might be searching. This could be something as tangible as a rare bird, or as abstract as the meaning of life. Every person has his or her own personal Speckled hatchback, and how we each look for it largely determines how each of us lives his or her life. I will hopefully return to this metaphor in the book I hope to write at some point. Anyway, now you know.

As for actual birds, Mark and I spent 6 hours seawatching from Pigeon Point this morning an early afternoon. There were fair numbers of birds all day. The species represented were the same as yesterday, and like yesterday, we thought we had 1 probable Pomarine jaeger that got away without definitive identification. Otherwise, we had ~15 Parasitic jaegers, 20-30 Black-vented shearwaters, and maybe 5-6 Pink-footed shearwaters. Breaching humpbacks kept things interesting, and we had a few flyby phalaropes that provided excitement even without positive identification. After lunch I headed south to Santa Cruz where I am spending the night. En route, I received a call that a Pacific golden-plover had surfaced behind me in Half Moon Bay this afternoon. I am contemplating going back the ~50 miles to get it tomorrow morning since I have tons of time. I need to give this some serious thought to this tonight.

41 miles south today

I also had not one but two run-ins with blog readers today. Mike and Corrine recognized me (and Sonia!) while I was birding at Pigeon Point. We had a nice chat with them as we scanned the ocean for an hour. I was also stopped on the road by Ethan Goodman with whom I have been corresponding over the course of the year. He is from New York, but was in the area on vacation. We had a brief chat before he had to run to SF to catch his flight back to the east coast.

Me, Corrine, Mike

Me, Ethan

Lastly, here is the first installment of the reader-generated questions. I will be posting more of these on days when there isn't too much birding-related news. Sonia and I decided to start with the most general question and work towards things more specific. Hopefully everyone will enjoy this series!


  1. I just love this blog! Heading out to find some speckled hatchbacks in the wilds (not) of Howard County, MD. :)

  2. DO go for PAGP in HMB!

  3. Love the video! You two should have a talk show. You are so comfortable, funny, and charming.

  4. Second comments about video. Looking forward to upcoming book. Hope you go into greater detail and is as entertaining as Kingbird Highway.

  5. Wow, Sonia is a natural at being an exceptional interviewer! Loved the Q & A!

  6. "Welcome to The Wandering Tattler. The only wildlife-based B&B where you're guaranteed to see a Speckled Hatchback, Chupacabra and yeti while enjoying Eggs Benedict"