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A Series of Unfortunate Events


meghann

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On 1/2/2022 at 8:05 AM, Clip said:

We were on our way to bird another area when I accidentally locked my keys in my car.

Locked myself out a few weeks ago.  Fortunately I was at a park 20 minutes from the house.

Is there anything in birding more humiliating than having to call the non-birding significant other to come get you?

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Well my story doesn't involve birding unless you count the fact that I heard a Song Sparrow manage to complete his whole song at 3:30 am.

Moral of the story is, 'Don't poke the bear' also applies to his closest cousin and anything else that looks remotely like a bear. 

If you needed another moral lesson, 'Don't dress like prey' 

... and I could go on. 

   ??????????‍?
That was my night in pictures ?

 I was 3' up a small tree at 4am with a 15' stick of pipe trying to make the coon jump to the roof and leave so the dog and I could go back to sleep. When it snarled and attacked the pipe my 110 lb shaggy, jet black dog jumped up the tree as far as he could and either mistook my fuzzy grey pj pants for the coon or the tree trunk?
Either way he clamped down good on my knee before he realized his mistake and bruised it pretty good besides getting one tooth in a ways and leaving a pencil sized hole.
I cleaned it up and managed to get back to sleep for a couple of hours but when I tried to get up this morning I couldn't put any weight on it. Of course it's a holiday weekend and everything is closed so the kids got a visit from grandma and grandpa while my wife ended up driving me to the urgent care to get a tetanus booster and antibiotics. ?

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2 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Next time, try a hose with a sprayer set on 'Pulverize'.

Good luck with the knee.

Might have to try that. This is a pretty common occurrence but the first time in this particular tree - it's the only one in the yard where they don't have an easy escape route out of reach until they reach the fence. Usually it's just a matter of pestering them until they quit being 'at bay' and just calmly walk off much to the dog's annoyance.  

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  • 1 year later...

I find this thread entertaining, so I’ll try to revive it. I have a couple stories that I think are fitting.

The first takes place in south-central Oregon, at a large alkali lake. It’s a hot sunny day, with lots of heat shimmer. Luckily I’m not alone on this trip - it could’ve been worse! Way out on the mostly dry lake bed, we can see tons of gulls and shorebirds, but due to distance and heat shimmer, they are well and truly unidentifiable. “No problem” I say - “let’s just walk out there!” Easier said than done. We take our shoes off and start walking barefoot out into the muck. Farther out, there’s a salty crust on top of the muck, and with every step we break through the crust, and it scratches at our ankles. At first it’s a minor annoyance, but gets progressively worse with each step, the sharp salt crystals scraping deeper and deeper into our flesh. Not wanting to give in, I try to keep forging ahead, but eventually my friend makes the executive call that we need to turn around. It was unequivocally the right decision. By the time we get back to solid ground, both of us have raw and bloody ankles, which take months to fully heal. We never did get close enough to identify those birds! 

On another occasion, I’m birding alone in the Interior Coast Range south of Livermore, California. I’m looking for owls, so it’s after dusk. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a shadowy figure moving slowly and smoothly across a field towards me. Something about it feels disturbing, terrifying in a most primal way. I can’t see what it is yet, but it feels wrong. Every instinct tells me to run, but I keep my cool and slowly saunter back to my car. I close the door, put my foot on the brake to turn the car on and put it in gear - and illuminated by my brake lights, I watch a Mountain Lion cross the road behind me. Terrified, I throw the car into gear and get the hell out of there. I still go owling alone sometimes, but never go more than a few steps from the safety of my car.

This last one happened just a month or so ago. I was on a camping trip with a small group of birders, and we went for a hike at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Tuolumne County, California. After a long climb in elevation, we sat down for lunch and a break. One of the group was especially tired, so she decided to go find a spot to take a nap while the rest of us explored the area a bit more. When we were done exploring, we tried to find her, but could not. There was no cell phone service. We ran up and down that portion of trail several times, even started yelling her name at the top of our lungs, but could not find her. We began to wonder if she had started the long descent, since try as we might we couldn’t find her. Eventually, we hiked down to the parking lot - she wasn’t there either, nor was she anywhere along the trail. At this point we start truly freaking out, and flag down a park ranger, and explain the situation. He is perhaps a bit condescending, but generally helpful and a calming presence, and explains that this happens quite often. He reminds us of the “Golden Rule” - never split your group up! Feeling slightly less anxious, we wait around and about 15 minutes later she shows up at the parking lot. Crisis averted! (She still acts like we shouldn’t have hiked down without her, but she was the one that broke the Golden Rule!)

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And one more: in late May 2020 I tried to go birding at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in Oakland. And almost got trapped in riots in Emeryville and northwest Oakland. Luckily got out with no issues, but did see some totally destroyed cars and some very stressed out cops…

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have had at least one situation that got pretty hairy and that I’m not too proud of. Many years ago I was with my wife and we were in Colorado, only a year or so after Baird‘s Sparrows were discovered breeding at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area outside of Fort Collins. We decided to make an early morning trek for the birds. You have to walk on fairly unmaintained trails through the open grass prairie, about 7.5 or 8 miles round-trip. We left early early in the morning and it was cool and overcast. I barely brought any water, and I’m sure you can see where this is going. Very early on, the clouds parted, and the sun came out. By the time we got to the birds after walking almost 4 miles it was easily in the 90s and there was zero vegetation for cover, being the open grass prairie, the highest grasses were about knee high for as far as the eye could see.

When we arrived at the spot, I knew situation was dire and I spent very little time with the birds, only snagging a few audio recordings because I could tell we were in trouble. We started walking back and it was in the upper 90s, and stupidly, we had run out of water on our way walking out. Eventually, my wife started to feel very faint and I called 911 with barely any cell service. We kept walking and by the time first responders got to us we were only about a half mile from the trailhead.

They let us sit in their air-conditioned ambulance, took our vitals, and gave us electrolyte drinks and water. Eventually, they released us and we went  to a grocery store to stock up on hydration drinks and water. We ended up going home and relaxing, but it was very scary, and I will never underestimate how fast the weather can change again. I am now hyper-sensitive and bring an excess of water with me every time I go birding. And my wife will likely never bird with me for long periods of time like that again. Sad face.

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4 minutes ago, DLecy said:

I have had at least one situation that got pretty hairy and that I’m not too proud of. Many years ago I was with my wife and we were in Colorado, only a year or so after Baird‘s Sparrows were discovered breeding at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area outside of Fort Collins. We decided to make an early morning trek for the birds. You have to walk on fairly unmaintained trails through the open grass prairie, about 7.5 or 8 miles round-trip. We left early early in the morning and it was cool and overcast. I barely brought any water, and I’m sure you can see where this is going. Very early on, the clouds parted, and the sun came out. By the time we got to the birds after walking almost 4 miles it was easily in the 90s and there was zero vegetation for cover, being the open grass prairie, the highest grasses were about knee high for as far as the eye could see.

When we arrived at the spot, I knew situation was dire and I spent very little time with the birds, only snagging a few audio recordings because I could tell we were in trouble. We started walking back and it was in the upper 90s, and stupidly, we had run out of water on our way walking out. Eventually, my wife started to feel very faint and I called 911 with barely any cell service. We kept walking and by the time first responders got to us we were only about a half mile from the trailhead.

They let us sit in their air-conditioned ambulance, took our vitals, and gave us electrolyte drinks and water. Eventually, they released us and we went  to a grocery store to stock up on hydration drinks and water. We ended up going home and relaxing, but it was very scary, and I will never underestimate how fast the weather can change again. I am now hyper-sensitive and bring an excess of water with me every time I go birding. And my wife will likely never bird with me for long periods of time like that again. Sad face.

I learned my lesson the hard way too.  I was hospitalized after a birding trip with no water.

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40 minutes ago, DLecy said:

and stupidly, we had run out of water on our way walking out.

I vaguely recall from decades-ago survival training that it's best to drink as much of your water as possible as soon as you think you may be in trouble.  Your body tissues overall will be better hydrated.  Drinking small amounts at intervals only takes care of the digestive system.

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35 minutes ago, The Bird Nuts said:

I learned my lesson the hard way too.  I was hospitalized after a birding trip with no water.

Sorry to hear that. It’s pretty amazing how fast one can get into trouble without adequate hydration. Super scary.

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4 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

I vaguely recall from decades-ago survival training that it's best to drink as much of your water as possible as soon as you think you may be in trouble.  Your body tissues overall will be better hydrated.  Drinking small amounts at intervals only takes care of the digestive system.

Interesting. We were so dehydrated that we both didn’t have enough saliva to eat what little food we had, which only contributed to the weakness/fatigue. That was the first, and hopefully only time I will ever have that experience. 

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42 minutes ago, DLecy said:

we had run out of water

For a bit of off topic comic relief, I did this with a large group of folks in a place we really should have known better. My now-wife and I spent a couple of years in Chile teaching (her teaching first graders and being a productive member of society, me teaching businessmen and being much less so). Shortly after moving to the north of the country we took a big teacher trip to San Pedro de Atacama, in the middle of the desert. Someone thought it would be a great idea to all rent bicycles and sandboards and bike out to some dunes to go sandboarding. Only a few of us were cyclists, so it was a bit sketchy to begin with, but we barely brought any water, just a few litres of water for like 20 people, for a good half day trip. 

To a place called Valle de la Muerte.

Everything was fine in the end because my wife and I raced back into town, fetched colleagues with the trucks, bought a boatload of water, and raced back to escort people back to the highway for pickup. 

Anyway, here's a photo of some not very well hydrated cyclists in the valley, and to vaguely keep it on topic some flamingos from the salt flats in the area.

2007_0406SanPedro0043.thumb.jpg.54adab4ff0e96920112702d7a917e9f3.jpg

2008_0811don20603.thumb.jpg.5653c5f8fb6e713eb2c977c9695de3f2.jpg

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3 hours ago, AlexHenry said:

Perhaps you could elaborate on this story a bit?

Well, okay...The dehydration triggered a severe migraine that lasted around 12 hours and during which I was aphasic, had a fever, went numb and I think temporarily blind, and was unaware and unresponsive for hours (I don't remember most of it).  The doctors never had any clue what was going on with me.😒  They tested for signs of a stroke and seizure among other things because that's what it looked like.

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  • 4 months later...
On 8/22/2023 at 3:32 AM, PaulK said:

If @Aaronever logs in again, he'll have quite a horrifying contribution to this thread. The wildfire situation up here is just awful this summer. https://www.instagram.com/p/CwNzW9JJMuo/?igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==

‘Twas a very interesting 24 hours and then several weeks. Luckily, the fire stopped about 400m away from my cabin, but it was so large (106,000 acres) that it may as well have burnt it to the ground as there’s not much around anymore. Theres not one of my birding/hiking spots that isn’t either completely reduced to ash or partially destroyed so… It will be interesting I guess to see the landscape come back, and what new birds/plants/animals rush in, but it will never return to how it was in my lifetime. Unfortunately, 200+ year old cedars take 200+ years to grow.  Risks of living in the forest I suppose. 
 

This is what the majority of ‘my’ hotspot looks like, this is just down the road. Not total loss, but still killed the majority of the young trees and shrubs. Lost about 4 homes on my street. IMG_4181.thumb.jpeg.ae091cfa09502c1674d13a60ab27c5fd.jpeg

And this is the provincial park which was sorta the best place to hike and bird.IMG_4421.thumb.jpeg.46f9cd50de1f6d61b24e81df711a253a.jpeg IMG_4419.thumb.jpeg.448baec18bb02d3d07d3bd67fb3374d8.jpeg

It looks like that every which way you look, and the fire continued up and over that distant mountain. 
This before photo was taken a few years a go, directly across the river looking right in the first pic.

IMG_7389.thumb.jpeg.8a9f0e82b597c6d38290a67517aa3191.jpeg
Looks a little different.
This spring I guess will really show the true damage, but still sorta surreal to think that it even happened.

And here’s the aerial ignition they lit to stop the fire from reaching the town (fail) that I watched get lit from my yard. Lots of controversy over whether or not this lead to the fire getting worse and burning down my town and the next town over, but what’s done is done. Taken about 21 hours before the evacuation order (which at that time the fire was already in the town). Some people had to park their cars on the beach and get evacuated by boat cause the entire road (only one way out) was engulfed in flames. 

IMG_3161.thumb.jpeg.ab17d6312a44358e3a57fdba916cf4d0.jpeg


I have probably 100 stories I could add to this thread from my first field season working with grassland birds, but I’ll keep those to myself.

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On 1/11/2024 at 10:44 PM, Aaron said:

It will be interesting I guess to see the landscape come back, and what new birds/plants/animals rush in, but it will never return to how it was in my lifetime.

Keep that attitude and you will see a new kind of beauty grow from the ashes. It will never be the same for sure but there will be winners as well as losers in the flora and fauna. I live a few miles from the devastation caused by Mt St Helens as well as some more recent major fires and life does come back. 

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