Sunday, August 29, 2010


Friday night came the report of an apparent Costa's Hummingbird about an hour away. The posted photos were compelling and with an impending cold front due to arrive on Sunday, it looked like I was going to have to make the attempt on Saturday.
For the first time the boys have had to endure a twitch with their Dad. Laura was busy and I had the boys for the day so I loaded them in the car with a promise of Dairy Queen on the way home.
Turns out that I really didn't need the Dairy Queen bribe. Our hosts, Don and Holly Minnerath had a swing set and trampoline in the backyard, along with a beagle, a couple of bunnies and bantam chickens. All of that plus their very gracious daughter Leah kept the boys so entertained that they didn't want to leave when it was time to go.
I also had a good time. Don and Holly have a wonderful backyard with great bird habitat and on top of that they were great people to visit with as well. I was guided through the yard to a seat on the porch and within a few minutes of my arrival the bird descended to the hummingbird feeder for a sip, then flew a short distance from the feeder to perch on a twig.

I had great looks of this little guy. He eventually disappeared into the backyard, but I was also able to see at least one Rufous Hummingbird (another fairly rare bird in this part of Montana). Don and Holly also told me they have had a number of hummingbirds this fall including our more expected Ruby-throated as well as the much more rare (as far a we know right now) Black-chinned Hummingbirds.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Slopes of Kilimanjaro

Amboseli....Serengeti..... Kilimanjaro..... Tsavo.

Places that occupy a back corner of my mind from a lifetime of an interest in wildlife.

"At first it was hardly more than a feeling in the ground, from out in the night somewhere. Then there was a bass cough, and crumping sobs gathered and went rolling about the dark, one by one, like barrels tumbling. It was the lion song, and I sat quiet to learn it, as you learn the trill of a tree toad, or how an alligator goes. And though there may have been little real song in the sound , it came in strong and lonely through the whisper of the mist; and to me, at the same time, it seemed to tell of an age being lost forever."
Archie Carr - Ulendo

Now I am going to see the Serengeti myself.

I will be working in the Enduimet Wildlife Management Area this fall. The Enduimet WMA is in the northwest of Mount Kilimanjaro just across the border from Amboseli National Park in Kenya. I have been reading as much as I can on the conservation issues associated with the wildlife management areas in Tanzania and it is amazing how much the issues, particularly the socio-political aspects of conservation, parallel much of what is currently going on where I live and work. More on that when I get back for sure.

Now I need to get ready.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Summer Doldrums

Seems like I have had a hard time getting any words down on this blog for a while and now I can't even get a photo posted very often.
One excuse is that I have had my heads in the tropical clouds trying to figure out not only my Tanzania assignment, but also trying to get familiar with East African birds. I have a feeling it is going to be a bit overwhelming. I am not sure yet exactly where I will be going in Tanzania and I am not sure if any of the people I will be working with have an interest in birds so it may be trial by fire in my first foray into tropical birding. Some should be fairly straight-forward, but I am sure there are going to be many more I am going to just have to try to get photos of and take notes about to try and figure out after I find the right section in my field guide to assist in identification. There are over 1000 species of birds found in Tanzania, in a country about twice the size of California. Nearly all of them are species I have never observed before so I am sure the species accumulation curve will be fairly steep for much of my trip. It will be exciting to bird again in a place where all will be new. That hasn't happened for quite a few years.
I think all the paperwork is nearly completed- just a couple more shots to get up to speed, a visit to the doctor for anti-malarials, and travel arrangements to make before a can feel like this is really going to happen.
Getting up to speed on the project I will be working on has also been a challenge and I will let you know more as things get figured out.
Maybe I will even get a few posts up soon. Maybe.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

PAD 25 - Bitterroot

Montana State Flower - Bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva)
July 13, 2010. Beaverhead County, MT