Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A little family, a little friends and a little birding.

This weekend was great and terrible all at the same time. It all started with me taking the commuter train home Friday at 5pm only to put the kids in the car and drive right back to the city. This weekend we did something most people would never think of doing, we traded houses with a couple in the city. They needed a break from the city and we needed to be in the city for a wedding, so, we traded houses, for 2 days. We arrived at their place later than expected because there was lots of traffic getting into the city. Traffic would be a common theme for the weekend. I really don't miss a single thing about living in the city but traffic jams 24/7 are the nail in the coffin of my once city dwelling self. The stress of it comes off of me with the force of a nuclear explosion. I hate it.

Saturday was spent mostly in traffic as well, with us desperately trying to get from place to place. Between bouts of excruciatingly slow car drives, we got Shep's hair cut. It was worth it. He got his first real haircut. Mom and a few other people had chopped at it from time to time (mom showing the best results) but this was a proper cut. John Roth, owner of Crow's Nest Barbershop, did an awesome job as he always does with mine when I'm not sporting this Mohawk for the documentary. We got Shep a fade. He now looks like he can kick some serious ass. He even got a comb from John at the end of the appointment. I think you'll agree looking at the shots that he suits is new cut very well. I think Rachel shed a tear or two when she first laid eyes on him after john was done.

Shep getting his cut, 1920's style footage.

Later that evening, we to our friend's wedding while Rachel's brother Derek and his girlfriend Kate watched the kids. Normally I'm not a fan of going to weddings but this was a long time friend of mine who had been married once before. Needless to say, he's with his soulmate now. I understand what he went through. My first marriage didn't work out either. But, the way I see shit, it was necessary to have that first one and all the terrible trouble of it falling apart to get to the person I'm with now. I have nothing against the previous marriage, it just wasn't the right person. Nothing more, nothing less. I think he feels the same way. I took some shots at the wedding but that's for them to share, not me. Well, maybe just one.

Matt and Tiina on their special day.

Sadly, it was such a good time that I drank too much and went to sleep about 2 am. So 6 am Sunday morning came way too soon. Why would I get up at that hour after such an evening? The only reasons I can think of would be for Rachel, the kids or birds. This weekend, was birds. I snuck out of the house and drove to pick up my cameraman. Jon was ready right away. We grabbed a shitty coffee at McDonalds (sadly not bird friendly) and hit the highway. We had at least an hours drive to get to the meeting spot of the OFO guided walk. The leader of the trip was Dave Milsom. You might remember him from that amazing and terrible trip I took to Manitoulin Island looking for Sharp-tailed Grouse. He's great and is always eager to tease me if things aren't going well. I managed to pull shit together enough that he may not have noticed how I felt. There was a group of 45 birders present. It was great, especially when I saw the two wearing metal band t-shirts. I knew I needed to talk to them. They stood out in the crowd like I usually do. They were new birders and loving it. They had been birding for about a year and had a list of a little over 200. Not bad at all for a first year. He programs games for X-Box 360 and she works for a recycled clothing company and teaches belly dancing. And I thought I was different...

Birding the Beeton Sod fields.

Birder convoy.

Anyway, we did well and we saw lots of good birds. I even managed to add 5 to my year list, bringing it up to about 220. The new birds were Baird's Sandpiper, Semi-palmated Plover, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper and Pectoral Sandpiper. A couple of those I think I had a few days previous but I was alone and am a novice shorebirder at best. Those I was with were not so I can be more confident in adding them to my list. Also, I got a confirmation on something I saw Thursday last week. You may remember me saying I got a dowitcher but was sure if it was short or long-billed. A fellow named Charles was at the same spot the day after me and saw the same bird. He identified it as a Short-billed Dowitcher. He also told me how to tell the difference. It's the shape of the bird, not markings and certainly not bill length, despite their names. He said that a short-billed will have a flatter looking back while a long-billed will have more of a hump on it's back. After much conversation with Charles, I learned that with shorebirds, it can be easier to go by behaviour than markings. The way they feed and act is more important to helping distinguish one shorebird from another. I learned a lot that morning, let's hope the slight hangover and lack of sleep doesn't cloud my memory.

Baird's Sandpiper by JulioM.
Semi-palmated Plover by A. Davey.
Buff-breasted Sandpiper by Seabamirum.

Shepard and I about to go shorebirding.

Short-billed Dowitcher by omarrun.

After getting into yet another traffic jam heading into the city to drop Jon at  home and pick up my family, we were finally going back to Orono. Oh how I had missed it. What others might deem boring, I call paradise. It's funny. I wasn't always this way. There was a time when I didn't leave the city once for 3 years. But this past weekend made me realize I can never live in a big city again. Who the hell stands outside a house and yells another persons name for 3 hours. I swear that's what was happening outside our bedroom window. Though the house we traded for was beautiful, there's no place like home. Will we trade again, yes. Will I drive around doing things in the city again, never. Next time we go in for the weekend, I want to park my car in the driveway and just relax, maybe take the streetcar to Kensington market for another haircut or lunch, but forget driving, it's just not worth the anger that builds up inside me. Here's a shot of Orono that I was happy to come home to.

Orono. Home sweet home.

Thursday August 25 day list
Short-billed Dowitcher

Sunday August 28 day list
Baird's Sandpiper
Semi-palmated Plover
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper

Punk Rock Big Year
Paul Riss

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