Chasing Birds

I've got a garden to tend, birds to find, beers to drink, and stories to share.

June 23, 2014
by Brittany

Where the Hell Is Maybell?

I am fairly well convinced that Net’s Cafe in Maybell is the only place worth eating in Moffat County. I tried another place in Craig twice (apparently expecting improved results the second time), but the patty melt doesn’t lie. How do you ruin a patty melt? Well, if you follow the model of the unnamed cafe in Craig, you’d start by putting barely-cooked (and oil-saturated) red onions on it. Red onions? Really? At Net’s the onions may still be a bit undercooked, but at least they’re sweet and yellow. Offering sweet potato fries is definitely a plus 1. So yeah. I judge restaurants by their patty melts. But this isn’t really about sandwiches. more

May 17, 2014
by Brittany

A Lifetime First: Lekking Grouse (of any kind)

SO. I spent yesterday morning sitting about 20 feet away from 35-40 Sharp-tailed Grouse on their lek! Yep, even on my mornings off, I get up at the crack of dawn to go look at birds. Though this was a particularly special experience; it’s not like I was getting up at 4 am to go check out some sweet Mourning Doves staring at each other or something.

In the last couple of years, I have developed a strong rule about observing first with my own two lenses, that is, without looking through a camera lens. So I spent the first half hour or so soaking in the experience first-hand: watching their comedic jitterbug dances and listening to their funny little pops, rattles, and hoots. It was tough to get good photos with my little camera in such low light, but I did my best. These were digiscoped through my binoculars. To get the full experience, listen to their calls in the player below. Enjoy! more

May 4, 2014
by Brittany

The Formula for Fieldwork

I leave for the field today, which seems altogether too soon. Technically, I’ll be at training for a week and field work starts on Monday the 12th. Every once in a while, someone asks me what it means to go out in the field. “So…like…what do you do?” In my experience, the basic equation for explaining field work is usually something like this:

field work = your primary task + a geographic area

This year, my short answer is: Count birds and Colorado. There are many other variables that enter the formula, but they are still largely dependent upon what you’re doing and where. For some of us, this simple equation is the most rewarding aspect of our jobs. Every year, I get to leave the office and collect data in some of the most beautiful places in the country. No desk, no chair, and significantly less face-plastered-to-computer-screen time. It’s awesome. I would make a living off of seasonal field work if it paid more and I didn’t have to move around the country to make a sustainable income (I know many people who do). more