Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I find myself marking the seasons by the movement of birds past me. Any of you who have been reading here for a while know that already. Waterfowl, then sparrows and warblers moving north in the spring. The same groups but in reverse order with sometimes different species heading south in the fall. The birds that mark winter for me are themselves southward migrants from even darker and colder landscapes north. Last weekend I found my first flock of winter rovers - a flock of about 200 Common Redpolls feeding on silver sage seeds. It was not the placid flock of mid-winter, contently feeding at the backyard feeder, but a wandering group of restless travelers, curious but easily flushed, undoubtedly heading for someplace else before claiming a patch of residence for the rest of the dark.

I also get restless to go south at this time of year, to chase the daylight and experience my other home landscape - the ocean, ice and rock, the stink and clamor of frantic penguins rushing to fulfill the promise of another brief austral summer, and the friends I get to see for a short time each year.

This year my migration was nearly cut off. A medical exam, required to make my trip, suggested some problems. After nearly a month of additional tests suggesting there may be abnormalities, a definitive test has finally come through and I just received clearance to make the trip again this year. I had pretty much resigned myself to the closure of this wonderful opportunity I have had to visit The Ice but after all was said and done I am able to continue my annual migration.

Now comes my own frantic rush to make sure I have all my gear, paperwork, and obligations lined up and ready to go. This year there will be no travels in Chile but an extended period on the Antarctic Peninsula with a couple of brief visits to Ushuaia Argentina (hopefully enough time to FINALLY find the Magellanic Woodpecker I have been looking for over the last 15 years of travels to the tip of South America).

So, one more series of Antarctic travel stories and photos coming up.


david said...

Glad you are OK, and I'm looking forward to your dispatches from the South!

Anonymous said...

Happy you are alright also, and able to travel south where I can live vicariously through you yet again.

Good luck with the Magellenic. We heard double knocks in Parque Nationale Tierra Del Fuego. At least I think that is where it was, memory is failing me and I'm out of town away from my stuff for a week

Beverly said...

Awwwwwww... do stay healthy! I'm glad you get to go, afterall; and look forward to your stories.

If you haven't already found ''d like the last couple of Zick's Blog: ORCHIDS!!!

Have fun, kiddo...

John Carlson said...

Thanks all for your concern. David - I am looking forward to more dispatches from you too.
Clare - I will visit the dump and post a photo for you. Been thinking of you lately as the Redpolls and Snow Buntings show up. Hope all is well with you.
Beverly - thanks for the note. I have been checking out Zick's orchid posts. Mine are still alive (somewhat surprisingly) and I am looking forward to more flowers this spring and possibly more plants as well.