A week in the San Francisco area served many purposes. Rekindling and making new friends, eating healthy foods like kale and soybeans, drinking healthy beers like Blue Moon, selling Haverford (of course!),…did I mention birding? Basically I had my binoculars around my neck the entire visit. It did not seem to bother my Haverford Alumns…not even the lawyers. My tolerant and generous hosts…the Horton’s, Simpson’s and Parish’s…may have even caught a bit of the birding fever I intentionally tried to pass on to them. By the time I was finished talking (at them?), they were locating great horned owls, distinguishing whimbrels from godwits….even cutting out newspaper articles about birds!
Walks thru Golden Gate Park, hikes up Mt. Tam (twice) and exploring Pt. Reyes National Park produced many bird encounters but no “lifers”. A 12 hour day on the infamous Debra Shearwater’s Half Moon Bay pelagic voyage provided incredible cetacean sightings (Blue, Fin, and Humpback whales), but alas, the mega-rarity Cook’s Petrel must have forgot that it was supposed to leave New Zealand by now.
I spent most of my time at the stern of the boat befriending Ross, the 17 year old “chum guy”. His job was to systematically toss popcorn and drip smelly fish oil over the back of the boat in order to attract the birds. Fortunately, no seasick passengers interrupted our conversations about “seeing condors or chasing the rufous-necked wood rail”. Talking birds with Ross, a young birder extraordinaire headed to Cornell next month for a special “Young Birders Symposium”, was as enjoyable as watching Black-footed Albatrosses glide alongside our converted salmon fishing vessel; a multi-purpose boat specially licensed to dispose of cremated human remains (I saw the certificate), as well as ferry birders around the Pacific in search of anything avian.
The Philadelphia Phillies and SF Giants baseball teams are in a July slump with little prospect for improvement. My mini-slump should be snapped soon though. A Hatteras, NC two day pelagic trip, call it a double-header, is only two weeks away!