Friday, November 23, 2012

Girls Trip 2012 [raptors!]

Girls trip, except not your typical girls trip. These girls like to play with predators that fly. Predators that when in hand, have a desire to rip your eyes out with their beak or talons. Unblinking eyes that challenge you and demand respect immediately. Yep, that sounds like a perfect girls trip to me!

I traveled east to meet up with Mandy in MD on Thursday. It was good to have a night to catch up before we headed further east to Cape May, NJ. I needed time to unwind from the god-awful DC-metro area traffic (give me my windy country roads any day, snow, sleet, hail - I’ll take them over that traffic nonsense) before beginning anew with more driving.

We were up and at ‘em pretty early the following morning. LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” was the first song of the day for the drive – dancing commenced immediately.

Fortunately (for me), traffic wasn’t too horrid as we headed east. Once we reach NJ the roads are small and pleasant. There was no lack of conversation as we traveled. Mandy lives in San Diego, so this is the only time of year we get to see each other and we definitely make the most of it. We had great music (Mumford and Sons, The Apache Relay, etc.) playing to accompany the conversation and we lapsed in and out of singing with music and continuing our briefly-interrupted conversation. It was one of the most entertaining drives I’ve had in awhile.

We arrived at the blind around 11a to find that Arthur had three birds he’d caught in the past 10-15 minutes ready to be released! Excitement! Two red tails and a Cooper’s. 

Overall, we banded far fewer birds than the year prior, but the quality (read: badass-ness) of the birds we banded this year was far superior.

Last year I got to see all three falcons (merlin, kestrel, and peregrine) in hand in addition to two Accipiters (sharp-shinned and Cooper’s). This year I got to see all three Accipiters (sharpie, Coop, and Northern Goshawk) and two Buteos (red-shouldered and red tail), and even owls (saw whet)!

Saw whet
Red shoulder

We camped each night in my new two-person tent that we set up IN THE BLIND because the ground was still quite saturated with water from where flooding had occurred due to Sandy. Overall, Cape May had very minimal damage from the storm – they faired MUCH better than the rest of NJ, it seems.

The nights were increasingly warmer, as were the days, each day we were there. We ate out a lot, hung out with some super-savvy birders and got all nature-nerdy discussing a myriad of things. It was such a treat to meet and spend time these folks.

 Any time with Mandy and Arthur is sure to be full of nonsense. When you sit all day in a 6’ x 10’ shack with people you tend to get a little loopy. Jokes, snark, and innuendos were full-force this year. We thought we were doing pretty well for ourselves, but then Sunday Dom joined us. Our snark was put to shame. My stomach hurt for two days from laughing so much.

But yes, you read correctly, I took a day to convert the horse trainer/dog trainer/photographer extraordinaire into a raptor junkie (is it safe to say you’re hooked on banding now, Dom?). It was really great to get to meet a blogging friend in real life. It was amusing how conversations just picked up as if we’d known each other for ages since we were familiar with each other’s pursuits through the blogosphere. Dom’s excitement and curiosity about banding and birds was very evident and while we had a slow day, we did get to see one really killer adult female red tail. Definitely the prettiest red tail of the trip!

While it completely slipped my mind to get a photo together, I do have this photo of Dom from my camera (because obviously if there aren’t pictures, it didn’t happen). We have some future adventures in the works... So, hopefully more photos of shenanigans will be available by the end of winter. We've decided we could get into quite a few spectacular shenanigans together.

Let me state the following items for those who will understand and appreciate them (and because I never want to forget the following statements):
I only want to touch you once.
That is not okay.
And you thought this was going to be awkward for me.
Go home turkey vulture, you are drunk.
Go home rock, you are drunk.
Go home   insert noun here , you are drunk.

Overall, such a great trip. So awesome to see NOGOs in hand after surveying for them 4 summers prior. And spending time with my best friend is always a huge plus. This trip allowed me to completely forget the rest of the world for a few days, laugh harder and more often than I have in awhile, and reset myself from stresses that come from the rest of the world. And without further ado, more photo spam for you.


  1. It was great meeting all of you and I am TOTALLY hooked on banding (and birds in general). I haven't laughed that hard in a good long while and I'm sad I didn't get to go down for multiple days. This CO clinic is looking like it may be a bust, which means I'll have to come harass you in January instead. Mike has totally given in and accepted that skiing is happening. Good.

  2. Sweeeeet post, lady! Can't wait for next year :)