I was traveling for much of May 2018, zipping over to Ohio to participate in The Biggest Week in American Birding and then spending time in New Mexico with my Mom. One trip had everything to do with birds, while the other provided me with relatively incidental opportunities to bird watch.
I made several comics during both trips, only one of which ended up being posted on Interesting Ducks – you can revisit that Chain of Events HERE. Here are the others, with a few comments to set the scene.
I saw my first warbler in Pittsburgh, PA, along the Nine Mile Run trail to Duck Hollow, in Frick Park, on the first day of May. On May 4th, during an afterschool comics class I teach at The Ellis School, I quickly drew a memory of it – partly in anticipation of the wealth of warblers I expected to see the next morning. I was leaving class and driving directly to Port Clinton, OH, to meet up with my Dad and the ZEISS team for a week or so at Magee Marsh! I saw many, many more Yellow Warblers over the course of what turned into a 9 day trip – but this first flash of exuberant yellow bird was my favorite.
While in Ohio for Biggest Week, I spent 5 days exclusively birding, and 4 days working for ZEISS in the Optics Tent. There’s nothing better, when you’re trying to sell optics, than walking outside with an interested customer and showing them what a pair of bins can do for you in the wild – and of course, no one can complain when there are wonderful birds like the Wilson’s Warbler to study!
My Mom and I spent some time in Gallup, NM, doing volunteer work later in the month of May. My parents lived in the area for 10 years and I was born in Gallup, so it is always interesting to be back there. On our one day off, Mom and I went hiking in Red Rock State Park, where we explored the trail to Church Rock, which I remembered hiking as a kid. We then climbed to the top of Pyramid where we got an incredible 360 degree view of the area – 100 miles in every direction.
That same day, after the hike, I requested that we drive into Cibola National Forest beyond Fort Wingate, to see if I remembered a favorite picnicking spot from my childhood. Maybe it was different, but I couldn’t be sure. I was certain that the Northern Flickers were different out there, however! Around Pittsburgh, PA, they are “yellow-shafted” as opposed to the Western “red-shafted” birds. The markings on their heads are quite a bit different. The “red-shafted” Flicker is seen above, while the variation that I am more familiar with can be seen in this comic from April.
In the “sunport” in Albuquerque, on the day Mom and I left NM, I marveled that we had been in the state for nearly 10 days without seeing a Roadrunner. We were lingering in the beautiful Observation Tower (a space that makes the ABQ airport my favorite in the country) and I had just barely finished speaking when a Greater Roadrunner appeared on the tarmac below. I could instantly tell, just by its silhouette, what it was, and I shouted for Mom to look. We had to laugh as it zoomed around for a minute, before it disappeared behind a plane parked at a nearby gate.
It was a nice way to end a fantastic month of birding, making the 71st species I saw in the month of May and the 185th bird of the year!