Eagle Optics at the Great Texas Birding Classic

On Sunday, I participated in the Great Texas Birding Classic's Bit Sit competition. If you are wondering what exactly is a "big sit", I recommend you check out this YouTube video by Bill Thompson and Eagle Optics.

Our Big Sit site was at the South Padre Island Convention Center. It was a windy day with few migrants but we had a fantastic time, spoke with lots of birders, and saw quite a few birds in the process.

Team member Michael O'Brien scouts for shorebirds from a ladder perched against our modest shelter for the day. Michael literally wrote the book on shorebirds, so if anyone was up to the task it was him. Fellow shorebird author Richard Crossley also joined us for a bit, so I felt we were in exceptionally good hands.

Here is an overview of our site. We had excellent views of multiple habitats from this spot. The ladder, contributed by Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival President Danny Hoehne, allowed us to get some long views that added significant numbers of species to our list for the day.

Here's a team photo (left to right): me, Terry Fuller, Marci Fuller, Susan Hoehne, Danny Hoehne, Micheal O'Brien, and Louise Zemaitis. Louise is another amazing birder and bird artist. I feel so grateful to have been part of such a collective wealth of talent on this team.
We ended the day with a respectable 98 species on our list. Very well considering the windy conditions which blew most all the smaller migrants right past the island on their way north.
This Blackpoll Warbler was one of 4 warblers we had on Sunday.

The boardwalk at the convention center allowed excellent close-up looks at rails, waders, and shorebirds, including this Short-billed Dowitcher.

Wind-blown, Tri-colored Heron.

Yellow Warbler.


It's Not Always About Birds

So when I'm not birding, digiscoping, selling binoculars, blogging, or spending time with friends and family, you can often find me in the garage/workshop behind my house, tinkering around on a number of different diversions. Most often, I'm engaged in a furniture making project of some type.
This is the shop. I find woodworking a great way to break from my usual routines. It allows me to spend time in a space all of my own, full of sawdust, lumber, motorcycles, tools, and skateboards. These are some of my favorite things that I don't get to keep in my house. I also get to listen to whatever music I like at whatever volume appeals to me at the moment.
Another aspect of furniture making that appeals to me is that I get to work with my hands to build something. That's a sensation near and dear to me, which is generally absent from my usual work obligations.
This current project is a cabinet that will be in my living room, housing our stereo system and other A/V related goods. Probably a few books as well. It's made from Quarter-Sawn White Oak.

This particular wood was harvested from an old tree that was taken down at a park not far from my house. It's a wonderful feeling to look at a piece of furniture I made and be able to recall the tree that it used to be. In this case, it was an ancient tree that I often watched Blue Jays harvest acorns from while my kids played at the local swimming pool. I'll miss it as a tree but am grateful to have been able to get the bulk of the trunk for some furniture projects.

Here are the sliding doors, sitting on top of the cabinet, waiting to be installed.

It looks kind of like a coffin, sitting on the bench.

The shop attracts other wayward men from the neighborhood, such as the fellow pictured above. These individuals, often looking for respite from their day-to-day lives, are drawn to the power tools, obnoxious music, and motorcycles. I guess it's a brotherhood of sorts.