In Pursuit of Snipes

redwood-forest-santa-cruzHave you ever been on a snipe hunt? These nocturnal adventures are a classic part of summer camp. After explaining that a snipe is a small, furry creature, your counselor hands you and your cabin mates each a pillowcase and a flashlight. Then you’re turned loose in the dark and spooky woods (illustrated at right) to practice your “snipe call.” At various times, your counselor may ask, “Did you hear that?” or “I just got a glimpse—it went that way!” Of course, this sort of snipe is a mythical beast, and you are the butt of a practical joke that the counselors will find hilarious.

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Golden State Birding

western-scrub-jay_toropark-ca_lah_6689I’m in California, and the birding is great! A generous friend gave my husband and I a pair of “buddy passes” on Alaska Airlines, and we used them to fly to Sacramento.

I ticked off Great Egret before the wheels even touched the runway. Not a bad start, even if it was pouring rain.

Keeping my notebook handy, I added a Yellow-rumped Warbler foraging outside the terminal and the huge flock of Brewer’s Blackbirds that filled the parking lot. Birding from the freeway is always a challenge, especially in a heavy downpour, but I listed 16 more species in the next 20 miles.

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