It’s Birding Season Again

Autoimmune illness flares again but the great thing about a week spent birding is very little energy is required. We can sit in the woods and alongside marshes, just listening and watching, occasionally falling asleep until a ruffed grouse begins to drum or another bird peeps or screeches, waking us.

Rusty blackbirds and greater yellowlegs were loud in the marshes while the mallards, long-tailed ducks and shovelers quietly fed. Along the shores of Little Atlin Lake we found a boreal chickadee excavating a nest cavity in an old spruce snag and a pair of black-billed magpies were building a nest in a willow thicket. In the alpine, Wilson’s snipes winnowed and wandering tattlers ambled lakeshores.

At our campsite on Chotla Lake, a ruby-crowned kinglet sung all evening while three American kestrels hunted the snow-free hillsides.

A wonderful bonus to sitting quietly in wilderness looking for birds are all the wildlife we also spot. Moose, caribou, Dall sheep. The chipmunks and arctic ground squirrels, including skittish melanistic ones (they must know they are much more vulnerable than the ”normal” coloured relatives) were also out enjoying the spring weather after eight longs months of hibernation. Sunshine, birds, mountains and wildlife. We couldn’t have hoped for more.

Baja, Mexico

Two months of traveling all across Baja was time well spent.

While the town of Todos Santos didn’t do much for us the beach was beyond fantastic. It was a twenty-minute walk from our campground, over the desert hills to a quiet beach. It was just us, pelicans, gulls and scavenging stray dogs.

And whales.

And Olive Ridley sea turtle babies which we watched being released. Some two hundred babies dug their way out of their nest (a large fenced off area). Upon greeting the sky, a volunteer placed them in a cardboard box and brought them closer to the ocean. From there, the babies were put back on the beach precisely at sunset. Getting to the ocean from there was up to them. They ran as hard and fast as their little flippers could grip the sand. Only one gull came by to pick off a few but the rest made their way, some slowly, some swiftly, into the strong waves of the Pacific.

Magical.

And as the turtles disappeared under the surf, whales swam offshore, silhouetted by a yellow setting sun.

It was something you read in a travel brochure as a reason to visit.

Other days we bird watched. Egrets and herons in particular were stunning but it was the blue-footed boobies that really excited us. Flying and diving in unison. We spent an entire afternoon sitting on the sea wall in Loreto watching them. I have wanted to see boobies ever since I was young and read about the males’ amusing habit of showing off their brightly coloured legs to prospective mates. I’ve been entranced since. Though I only saw them flying and diving, I feel a deep gratitude to the Sea of Cortez for the opportunity to observe these birds.

This is precisely what draws us to the outdoors – the unexpected chance meetings with a great big wild world. We wandered the length of Baja, hiking the hills, strolling the beaches, enjoying this dirtbag life of ours. There are so many nooks to explore in Baja, plenty of wilderness to wander and discover. Don’t let fear inhibit life.

 

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