Friday, June 6, 2014

June 6 (Day 157) - A really good find on a down day, a bit of humor (I hope!)

Today would be my second of two relatively stationary days in/around Flagstaff, AZ. My host, John "The Kingfisher" Coons, has a very good hold on the Flagstaff birding landscape. He suggested that I try one of several spots he knows for either Williamson's sapsucker or Three-toed woodpecker. I was very motivated to do at least some birding on this down day, so I grabbed what I needed and headed out to an area that John recommended for Three-toed woodpecker. This high elevation, boreal species can be very difficult to track down. Like Gray vireo, it is found only very locally, and normally it requires a bit of help to find it. I have seen this bird on only two occasions, both on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park in north-central Colorado. If I could find this bird today, it would be a great find on a day when I would not make any miles forward along my planned route.

12 miles one way X 2 = 24 miles today

I had to ride several miles uphill on a relatively well-maintained dirt road to reach the recommended area. When I reached the spot, I ditched my bike in the woods, and set off on foot for the great woodpecker hunt. These woodpeckers, like others such as White-headed, are attracted to areas that have recently burned. I am not sure why this is the case. Much of the area that I birded this morning was burned in a forest fire several years ago. I spent most of my time birding areas where the burn abutted green patches. Biding burns for woodpeckers works well since it is often easy to see the birds flying between the burned trees. I had 2 distant, fly-by woodpeckers, but was unable to identify or relocate either one. I eventually heard a woodpecker tapping not far from me. I quickly located the bird; It was the sought Three-toed woodpecker! I was able to locate two more of the birds in the next hour, and despite terrible midday light, I was able to get at least a few record shots.

Three-toed woodpecker habitat

Three-toed woodpecker for #464

I returned home at 2pm after a monster lunch at Wendy's (2 cheeseburgers, 1 chicken sandwich, fries, shake), a returned home without much of a plan for the afternoon. I decided I would write-up the morning's adventure in front of the TV while contemplating options for the afternoon. I was kept company by Maury Povich who today featured "Who is my baby's daddy.....shocking DNA tests revealed!" The riveting broadcast featured not only on-stage interviews with a wide array of unfortunate souls but also accompanying chronicles of their apparently very active sex lives. Birds be damned! There was no way I was going to miss finding out which of the 8 guys on stage had fathered which of Lisa's 6 kids! My money said that Willis, the meth-addicted, toothless, unemployed hairdresser was good for at least 3 of them. The remaining 3 were a toss up between the other 7 father-of-the-year candidates sitting to the left of Willis. This was going to be more exciting than a Blue mockingbird riding on the back of Long-billed murrelet! The only problem was that Maury spent a lot of time intricately weaving the potential paternity web before he finally revealed the paternity results. My huge lunch had by this time kicked in, and I regrettably fell into a 1.5 hour nap before Maury could reveal the results. I awoke to Rachel Ray making some sort of stupid tart or something. It was a tremendous letdown. By this stage, I had missed the paternity results, and I was so groggy that I wasn't up for heading out this afternoon. I'll be riding about 75-80 miles tomorrow to Tuba City, AZ so I guess a bit of extra rest won't hurt.

Here are two last Pinyon Jay shots I grabbed this evening. Enjoy!


  1. D,

    On the topic of sustainability (personal and global), do you think it is worth examining the practices of these fast food restaurants you seem to regularly frequent? I imagine you dont have many options in some of the places you have been, but that is part of a bigger food conversation in our country. Have you considered the conditions in which your cheeseburger cow was raised? Or the environmental impact of its feedlot and the broader livestock industrial machine in America? The fact that your chicken couldnt stand up because his breast was so big from steroids that it toppled over (HELLO BIRDMAN!!)? Antibiotics? Ecoli? Hemolytic uremic syndrome?

    You are a doctor (or sorts), so I probably dont need to talk about LDL, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular risk factors. While I agree that the amount of cycling you are doing is hugely cardioprotective, there are a number of recent studies (several out of Boston) showing that even top endurance athletes arent immune from cardiovascular disease.

    You quit smoking. Huge step in the right direction. But if you live on fast food, you might as well continue to smoke because you will end up in the same place regardless.

    Food for thought on this year of sustainable endeavors.


  2. Way to go on the Three-Toed Woodpecker. The spot I suggested back in March here in Colorado is pretty guaranteed, but a little scary to ride to. Good that you got it out of your way.