Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mad trip to New England, finish the project

Eastbound October 11-13, 2010

When I started I really didn't plan that in ten days it would be over four thousand miles driving for about five days of birding, and a lot of driving on those. The vision was a lot mellower and more thorough. In four target states I'd see almost nothing to count save roadside drive-bys, so you have the makings of a grand waste of time and gas. What clicked the pace up was a couple of potential lifers that made me hurry to avoid near-misses. There was great birding along the way in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. In Rhode Island I found the more than a hundred species in the forty-eighth state to reach the goal I had set several years back.

Now I have the new question of what's next? Maybe try for 50% in all the states I've lived in. Maybe try for one third of the species in 48 states, Probably some combo of those until one or the other seems within reach, then focus on that. Worse is the question of why the hell am I even doing this. As if this modern, so called, world had even one sensible alternative priority better than trying to see some of the wonder of creation before it's bulldozed and poisoned into a planet sized grave-yard. I can't even do that without adding my heap of gasoline ashes to the shit piled on the graves of a half million species, plodding along on the verge of tears.

Eastbound - This was the shakedown trip for using the Roo to sleep in, so I loaded quite a bit less gear than was my habit, Just stuff on one side in the back, and space for pads and sleeping bag and pillows on the other. I managed to forget a couple of small conveniences, and some clothing for the colder weather I'd encounter, but knew I'd be in Freeport, Maine, home of several good gear outlets. I took the direct route east, north out of Arkansas to the Interstate in Springfield, MO, then up I-44, through, actually around the south side of Saint Louis. Then blow east on I-70 across the boredom of the craton, but it was dark until I crashed in a truck-stop just past the Ohio border. The next day was more steady driving, northeast from Columbus to Erie, PA, where I wandered around a little but still pressed on to Allegheny State Park in New York, nice place and probably worth a day or two when I'm in less hurry and more focused on New York State.

Continued along the southern edge of the state, and finally slept in a rest area between Binghamton and Albany. That's where I made the mistake of getting off the thruways to save money. Wasted a lot of time and endured slow and snarly rush-hour traffic. Strangely enough, the east side was not so densely populated and suddenly the driving was a lot easier. Continued on into Massachusetts, near Pittsfield, then north but I missed the entry to the Mount Greylock road so just sorta drifted into Vermont without doing any western Mass birding. In VT I poked around in a couple of places, but for some reason, probably the Curlew Sandpiper in Eastern Mass on Plum Island, I just kept going. Fortunately once in New Hampshire I ran across Miller State Park, which contains Pack Monadnock and overlooks Wapack NWR. Literally did a U-turn to get in there and asked the gatekeeper if there was a hawk-watch. Yes she says, so I gave up the $5 bill and drove up the mountain. Very worthwhile stop, even though I missed the Golden and Bald Eagles. What I did get was several hawks, and two great views of Northern Goshawks, one flying straight at me until it filled the binocs field. Loved that.

From there it was a dead run for Parker River NWR, Plum Island, but a couple of wrong choices at interchanges wasted just enough time that I wasn't able to walk down the beach at the south end to look for the Curlew Sandpiper before the gates closed. Somewhere along there I had another Goshawk fly over the Interstate, a real good tic for MA. But I was in position to get the CUSA in the morning, drove back through Newburyport, then south a little ways on the Interstate to an abandoned Weigh-station where I'd stayed before, and where I got a decent night's sleep.


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