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14 hours ago, The Bird Nuts said:

Funny you ask.  We ended up turning around on 105 because we accidentally drove right past the road the trailhead is on (South America Pond Rd.).  It's not the easiest to find, but it's not really difficult either.

Ha, that's exactly why I asked. Looking online it looked like an out in the middle of nowhere kind of place.
I'm mapping everything out VERY specifically and got the point down to where it should be. I'm using Rand Mcnally's website and I may end up purchasing a gps unit from them where I can then upload my complete trips to the gps. So far I'm feeling like I can use their maps better than google's. I wish eBird's maps had certain MAJOR highways and even state lines darkened a bit to see them. I sent them a note on that. ?


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Sort of an update... 
Here's sort of a list of birds I might look for. Some are organized by where I MIGHT find them, or at least look for them. The list of "needs" i have would be a lot longer than this but I'll have to stick to the easiest ones to find as I wont be able to bird EVERY day.  So far Moose Bog and Parker River NWR are definite stops at some point depending on weather once we're there. Those are both places I'll see some GOOD birds. 

Moose Bog
black-throated blue warbler *    listed as being present in August
bay-breasted warbler   - not so likely though reported there
white-winged crossbill (not likely) though reported there
bicknell's thrush
ruffed grouse   - I can hope
spruce grouse  - I can hope
boreal chickadee - this will be a highlight
black-backed woodpecker - I hope.
canada jay  - can't wait. This will be a highlight.

Parker River NWR
saltmarsh sparrow  +  hopefully, if I know where to look
veery - for my daughter, hopefully if I know where to look
least bittern (hellcat dike?)  Would be awesome...
northern gannet  - had a flyover one year that my daughter missed. She didn't want to believe me.
roseate tern - We can hope.
lesser black-backed gull - maybe?
red knot - This would be an awesome one to find, if I know where to look
ruddy turnstone (hellcat)  - Another one that would be awesome to see.

Great Meadows  (not sure if we'll stop there or not)
least bittern

Andrew's Point, rockport  (not extremely likely to go here, just seemed a good place to see the following)
Manx shearwater
roseate tern
lesser black-backed gull
parasitic jaeger
ruddy turnstone

These ones, I think I'll have to be watching eBird reports to think about chasing.
evening grosbeak *  (not likely)
northern goshawk  - uncertain/sensitive species
american bittern
american oystercatcher *  Search when the time comes?  I'm not sure we'll be visiting any of the places they're at most frequently but I REALLY want to see one.


tons of other birds I wouldn't mind chasing but the bars on the bar charts got smaller and smaller and smaller so they didn't make the list this time. perhaps another year. Or perhaps I'll stumble upon some.  I may play the little egret by ear. It's just one more trip to take to chase a bird that might be at one location, or somewhere else nearby. If I had a way to be in touch with some locals that could assist in chasing it that might make it a more important trip to take. ?

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Lot 1 in Parker River NWR is where I saw my first Saltmarsh Sparrow.  And we also got a Least Bittern at Hellcat.

Not that I really know a lot about Moose Bog, but I wouldn't count on seeing a Boreal Chickadee there.  I think they are the least likely of the "Boreal Grand Slam" to be seen there.

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I TRY really hard to not ever get my hopes up as it's easy to chase something and fail...  But... the bar charts suggest they're found there year round.

I guess we'll just see. Could be a big place and they might be more prevalent in one corner than another or, who knows. I plan on being very thorough though. ?

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I do remember the entrance to Moose Bog being a small, unflashy, roadside trailhead. Again, bring bug spray or a bug proof hat. I didn’t have Boreal Chickadee there, but didn’t really look that hard for them. You could consider Scarborough Marsh in Maine for a lot of your Marsh birds, as I believe that’s a location the Little Egret is seen. 

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anyone else ever say a short prayer about seeing a specific bird???  HA.
I'm watching the reports out of NH of another little egret. That's like half the distance from my mom's house as the one up in Maine. IF that were to stick around all summer it would be awesome.

But I also have to wonder about this bird. Is it the one that was down in New Jersey? Or a different one? More than one little egret in the states this year? Are they really little egrets? Are the breeding with the snowies? All sorts of questions.
I'm wondering also, if more and more keep showing up if their code level will come down. Could you imagine the excitement of having a rare bird and then a couple years later it's not so rare?  HA.

As far as our trip goes, I think I'll play the egret by ear and just see what happens. Still unsure of what I want to do about an oystercatcher.
I don't really want to go to too many unknown and hard to get to places. I HATE driving in cities... and parking is a PAIN sometimes. Would like to avoid such travel headaches but at the same time...  how could I NOT try and track down some oystercatchers?  Fascinating birds.
The BEST way for me to do this(as far as MY plans go) would be to find a place that is good for them that might also have a beach close by... so I don't feel bad dragging the family along.
Would be great if I could find some at plum island somewhere.
Perhaps I'll try to get the plum island trip in early and just see what we find and then make plans for anything we still want to look for. Guess we'll see.

Thoughts/advice still welcome from now til I'm heading home from there. HA. 

Especially still want thoughts for the stops in Ohio and New York on the way there. Do we have anyone in those areas? 
Should I maybe track down people to contact within the audubon societies in those areas or something along those lines? 


Edit:  About moose bog... do you think I can find some moose on the way up there?  Or how about porcupines?  That would be pretty awesome. ?

Edited by millipede
just because
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Another update, sort of...

I'm looking at a calendar and planning a few things and, boy a vacation disappears quickly. I think an overnight to moose bog and a day trip to plum island are going to be my only scheduled bird trips... sadly. ?  My daughter jokes she wants to go see a razorbill but I'm not planning on driving THAT far. ?  So I'll have to make the most out of the stops we have.
Moose bog, I think, is just going to involve us REALLY searching that area. I think we'll have a good day there.

Parker River NWR I'd like some help planning. I'll have to see if there's a page with good maps, or if I still have a map somewhere from the last time we went. That way I can plan based on suggestions.

A few posts/comments back I listed some of the birds I HOPE I might find on plum island...If people have suggestions as to specific spots on the island for any of those, please let me know. (side note, maybe there are other spots on the island, outside the park, that I should look as well?

Looking at my schedule, time will go by very quickly. Big family that we have to see, different days here and there. So I can't make any other planned trips I think... that makes me sad but I think I'll still have lots of fun. I will just wait and see on the egret and even the oystercatchers. I might not be able to chase either but if a reliable spot pops up for either I might be able to squeeze another day trip in. I have two beach days planned(sort of) One is plum island(have a question on that) and the other will be played by ear. Want to do Wingaersheek(I hate thinking about spelling that one) but that will depend. If the little egret shows up at wallis sands beach while we're up there, we're heading that way. ?  So we'll see.

About parker river....  One year my daughter and I got there before the booth was open. So we just drove in, waited a while, then went over and paid. IF we want to get a spot for swimming at the beach at the far end, we need to get there early.
What time does the booth open? What do YOU do if you get there before someone is there to take money? How early does a person need to get there to get a spot on that good beach at the end?
My plan is to get there early enough to enjoy the beach at the end that doesn't have the huge undertow that the whole eastern side has.  Swim with family and enjoy some time there and then drag the family around birding the rest of the refuge. ? 

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Somehow, I need to find THE right people to ask specific questions about specific locations. I HATE this planning but am glad I'm TRYING to work on it now.

At the moment, for some reason, I'm working on my beach trip to plum island. Apparently that beach, Sandy Point, isn't part of Parker River NWR. But I hope to go there and swim some because, if I remember correctly, the undertow isn't horrific on that end there. But now I'm looking at high tide vs low tide.  Anyone familiar with that beach? And does it matter a whole lot for swimming when high and low tides are? I was planning on swimming at the beach somewhere around the 26-28th of August but it looks like in the morning it will be high tide that week. The week before that I can hit low tide earlier in the day. I can plan around the tide any day except for that location as parking is not easy to come by. So my plan was to go EARLY enough to get parking at that beach and then swim before birding... (even if earlier birding is better...) 
Anyone know if that beach would be better at high or low tide? Or if it matters?

Sorry for the million questions and thoughts. If I don't work hard planning this all now it will be chaotic when I'm there and plans will likely not work out like I want.

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with moose bog... how bad are the bugs? Mosquitoes? Deer flies? Will bug spray be enough? I MIGHT have other family tagging along for the trip, including a niece that has bad reactions to mosquitoes.

And a question about feeding by hand... @The Bird Nuts
Is there a specific area to try and feed them by hand? Near a parking lot? Just anywhere along the trail?

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26 minutes ago, millipede said:

And a question about feeding by hand... @The Bird Nuts
Is there a specific area to try and feed them by hand? Near a parking lot? Just anywhere along the trail?

We've only been there once, but we had the most success along the first half of the trail.  The birds will come to you if they want food, so just have it ready.  We were greeted by a hungry RB Nuthatch right at the trailhead and it followed us down the trail.  I'm sure they'd come anywhere on the trail (the trail is really short), but I'd stay away from the busier paved road when hand-feeding.

We visited in April, so we didn't have to deal with the bugs.

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On 6/7/2019 at 2:19 PM, blackburnian said:

Again, bring bug spray or a bug proof hat.


On 6/13/2019 at 12:03 PM, millipede said:

with moose bog... how bad are the bugs? Mosquitoes? Deer flies? Will bug spray be enough? I MIGHT have other family tagging along for the trip, including a niece that has bad reactions to mosquitoes.


I'm still making many adjustments to the trip, at least the travel plans. I changed the route after St Louis to head down 64, I think, across lower IL and IN and then head through a little portion of KY just to hit a rest area and bird that state. HA.

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I'm SO glad I'm planning this all well in advance as things are still going SLOW.

@blackburnian, let me know how bad the bugs are there. I need to be prepared, especially if my sister decides to check it out too. I don't mind mosquitoes much myself


I'm still attempting to get in touch with some contacts about the spots I intend to bird at on the way to MA.  
Battele Darby Creek near Columbus Ohio is one...  For now I might need to go study the eBird reports in case I don't hear from anyone. I contacted the Columbus Audubon but that was almost completely useless. I emailed them with no response. Posted on their FB page and so far all I got was a link to some nature photographer's website suggesting I could try contacting him. Looked at his site like 4 or 5 days ago and emailed him using the contact info there. No reply so far. So now I've messaged him on Facebook as well but people don't see their messages there half the time(if they're coming from a stranger)   
Anyone on here from the Columbus area that knows that location well?     My plan is to maybe look for common gallinules and a henslow's sparrow but the real bird I'd want to chase there would be the ring-necked pheasant. Again, I may end up having to rely on eBird info... but I'd LOVE it if I could talk to someone that is VERY familiar with the location that might be able to say "go to this section of the place, that's a good spot to find them."     I honestly can't believe that the Columbus Audubon couldn't help me a little better than they did. If someone contacted the Audubon in Arkansas they would have been given specific info by now.  And I'm not even a member either.  eh, oh well.

and Montezuma NWR in NY, I haven't been able to get any help with that one yet either. I'm kind of surprised. Our top bird to look for there is going to be sandhill cranes(not telling my daughter about some of these things) and the eBird reports suggest they're likely that time of year there. The question is... where? That refuge is like 10,000 acres or something. It's BIG.  I can't spend an entire day there so guidance is needed. I think I already tried contacting someone through a contact form on a website. No response. So I may be resorting to eBird data for this as well. ?  I like searching eBird data but looking for exact locations that birds are found in doesn't always work. I mean, there are people here that will just report to a random spot on a map to say they birded SOMEWHERE in the town. And not many people put in specific info on birds within a hotspot.
Anyone familiar with this refuge and the birds there? Or know who I could contact? The cranes are the #1 bird I want to find on this whole drive but we'd also be interested in looking at/for bitterns(either) and virginia rails. I think given the habitat there, they could be anywhere within the refuge... and given their behavior, it might just be a matter of luck finding them. we'll see.

Our trip home has changed a little. We originally considered looking for black-necked stilts in the Memphis area but ended up getting advice to check out Bald Knob in Arkansas... a location we've hoped to go to for a few years now and with our planned trip home, wasn't very far out of the way. That should be a wonderful stop on the way back that should give us the stilts and possibly a few other life birds.

phew... well, back to trying to figure it all out.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 6/4/2019 at 9:02 PM, blackburnian said:

Certainly agree with the above comments regarding traffic around DC. Not. Worth. It. 

I wouldn't drive the I-95 corridor from Boston to Richmond VA, even for a hybrid Ivory-billed / Carolina Parakeet.

I've had good luck at many state-line welcome centers and rest stops, especially the ones in rural areas and not in city centers.  There's no minimum time limit for an eBird 'Stationary' entry.; I've entered many 5- and 10-minute 'Stationary' lists.  You're not likely to add anything new to your life list but they can be good for coloring your map.

On 6/6/2019 at 7:52 PM, millipede said:

but I've been to some hotspots that if you didn't already know where they were, you'd miss them.

One of the top county hotspots here is a city-maintained trail accessible from a convenience store parking lot.  The store has several spaces reserved for trail parking, and I always make point to buy a couple of drinks and some gas as a 'Thank you!'

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On 6/27/2019 at 1:45 PM, Charlie Spencer said:

I wouldn't drive the I-95 corridor from Boston to Richmond VA, even for a hybrid Ivory-billed / Carolina Parakeet.

That sounds like a SLIGHT exaggeration... ? 

You do have me "scared" though. My plan is to take 95 down through MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, DE, and then lose it in Maryland... at that point I believe I'm going to head over to Harper's Ferry to hit west virginia and then travel the western side of VA down to TN. I'll be avoiding the DC area at least.
I REALLY REALLY plan on hitting those states and there's really no other way to do so.  In Massachusetts I can take 495 AROUND the boston area before picking 95 back up before hitting RI.  But without adding a TON of time, 95 is the only way to go through some of those states.

I haven't done much relaxing stuff online lately... been busy with the planning which has included shopping for stuff I "need" and that's been a pain. So I haven't been back here to update much.
I got good advice on the two big hotspots I plan on visiting on the way there... and on the way back I'll be hitting bald knob in Arkansas and there's a guy that lives in that area that said I could even call him and have him come out and show us around if we need him.
It's going to be miserable at times with the driving... I'd much rather take our normal route to and from but, seeing new birds and birding new locations is going to be fun. The first few miserable states on the way back home will be broken up with short checklists at rest areas and such. That SHOULD help the driving feel less miserable. We'll see I guess.

I'll come back with some more updates from time to time and eventually have a finalized list of all I hope to see and where we'll be going, etc... 
I did manage to find my old map from Parker River NWR so I can plan that one out ahead of time... eBirding each spot separately and all.

anyway...  hopefully I wont DIE driving 95 through some of those states... It will be friday mid morning(friday before labor day, of all days...) so I'm hoping if I can leave MA at the right time, I can avoid some of the traffic. I don't know that avoiding traffic is possible but the main thing is to leave long before people are leaving work for the 3 day weekend.

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Here's a more serious response.  Use Google Maps this Thursday and Sunday to check the traffic on the I-95 corridor.   With this being the Independence Day holiday weekend, the traffic should be comparable to the Labor Day traffic.  In particular, check the estimated time from Boston to Baltimore.  See how that compares with time and traffic on a more westerly route.

Rest areas, etc. are going to be jam packed.  Besides waiting in line for the rest rooms, the amount of people and vehicles will affect the number of birds hanging around.

Good luck.  I'm afraid you'll need it.

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I'll have to get up and check it first thing in the morning but it will be difficult to compare at different hours.
I put into google maps that I'd leave the day I plan on leaving, say around 8:30 AM and it said from Lowell(closer to where I'll be) to Baltimore would take 7 to 9.5 hours.  As opposed to 6 to 7h40m if I skip Rhode Island and hit CT further west.
I could lessen the time by skipping RI if I hit that while I'm visiting but... I am not sure that's a "better" plan... as I'd end up making a whole day out of a trip to RI if I go during my trip instead of adding a couple hours on the ride home. 
Decisions...  hmmm... 
I get it... I'll be passing through those areas BEFORE work gets out that Friday so it shouldn't be AS bad... but, I can't change ALL my plans at this point. We're leaving MA on the 30th, it's just a matter of what time we leave and which way we go... but we REALLY want to visit those states.
I'll have to think about it more. The worst part of a longer drive is... is it good for the van...  I can wait. I'm patient. Our normal 24(ish) hour drive turned into 36 actual travel hours one year because of a snow storm in the IL/IN area. Lots of being stuck on the highway with off ramps closed and cars in ditches... We survived. 

If I NEED to I can TRY to jam CT and RI into a day trip while I'm there, or extend my drive TO Mass be dropping down(doubt I'll be up for that by the time I get there) but I REALLY want to pass through MD and DE and then WV and VA before dropping down to TN.
One way or another... I'll make it.  Am I on drugs? Nope... am I a tough, patient, tolerant birder? Yep... ?
I like to tease my oldest daughter in the winter because she doesn't like to get out when it's COLD... I find the most ducks when it's cold..... miserably cold...
Basically, I would walk that corridor if it meant an ivory billed or hybrid or something. ? 

I'm open to suggestions as to better ways to fit in some of my plans but, at the moment I have no intention to just completely change them. If I'm miserable in traffic for a couple extra hours, I wont cry. 

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Your tolerance for sitting in traffic, and your desire to add states to your list, apparently exceed mine.  I've been trapped a time or two by snowstorms myself, but those weren't in the forecast.  I feel differently about going into avoidable conditions that I know in advance will be unpleasant.

But don't let me dissuade you!  

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Leaving Boston on the Friday before Labor Day will be pure madness once you reach CT, through NYC, and NJ into DE... unless everyone decides not to go to the shore for that weekend! :classic_laugh:Good Luck.

And I am not sure about the NE traffic that would be heading from Boston out to Cape Cod and down through to CT.

Edited by birdbrain22
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  • 5 weeks later...

Can you believe that I'm still planning???  ugh...  ha.  Been busy. 
I have the trip to Massachusetts planned...  as long as the weather is good I have a day planned at Parker River NWR starting with the morning at Sandy Point State Reservation for some low tide swimming early in the morning, then hitting various spots that I still have to map out. 
Then a trip up to Moose Bog and an overnight camping trip to Brighton State Park while we're up there, one day when the weather is good, hopefully...    Then we have a possible beach day at Wingaersheek...  That's up in the air for the second week we're there.

I've been studying species maps on eBird trying to figure out where to go to see an oystercatcher the last half of August and, they sure look hit or miss. I think my best bet is to look at the reports once I'm up there and go to where they've been spotted and just hope. Last two weeks in August, anyone have any SURE places to find one? Preferably north shore or something, not down in or below Boston... I'm HOPING after we go to Wingaersheek that we might be able to drive around the Gloucestor area and find something. But, the eBird maps for August don't look great...  Each spot along the coast seemed to have one or two reports for ALL of August last year. That's not very promising...
Then there's CT.  If we don't find anything or run out of time and can't chase in MA, I think I will have to change my CT stop for the trip home... in fact, I'm wondering if I should just go ahead and plan a change for that now, ahead of time. Seems almost anywhere on the coast of CT will have oystercatchers... LOTS of reports compared to the northern coasts of MA.  So I might just plan on chasing that on the way home... that drive that's going to take SO long.  Map I'm using says 27:45 hours for the drive home(not counting the potential trip change for oystercatchers) and google, at the moment, says if I leave early that morning I plan on leaving it could take 25-31 hours. That's a 6 hour potential difference there. I'm prepared for that though. Stopping in each state will break that up enough, I hope.   This is the plan, not changing it. ? 
I was thinking about stopping at liberty park to try and see the statue of liberty... and see that oystercatchers are seen there, sometimes... But I think at that point I wont want to be making a stop that could end up taking longer than I'd like. We'll see.
I'm giving myself enough time that if I get stuck in traffic, I'll still make it home. ? 

Other than the LONG drive, 7 people AND their luggage crammed into a minivan, and a lack of sleep... it's going to be a good trip.  I REALLY wish I could sleep better in a vehicle.  There will be times where I might try to sleep if my wife is awake enough to drive but also a couple spots where we'll just be sleeping at a rest area. Even that will prove difficult but I better find a way to do it... 


Oh... anyone familiar with coastal hotspots in CT?  Which ones you might suggest are good for oystercatchers?(I'll be looking at the maps and charts myself)
AND...  if any of said hotspots are close and EASY to get on and off from 95?  That could make a difference.
It will still be morning(ish) so there hopefully wouldn't be toooooo many people....  Or, perhaps I better plan on it not being beachy but a less touristy type place along the cost to stop.  Any suggestions for that? Do we have any CT birders here??? I might go track down a CT bird group and ask them as well.

Edited by millipede
because I can...
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I asked around a little and haven't found much response.... yet...  But I ended up mostly using eBird to decide where to go in CT...  it's going to add about 20 minutes(just the driving) to our already long trip home. We're looking at 26 hours to MA and 28 hours on the way back... which will be longer than that because of labor day weekend traffic. We'll survive though. Purposely giving myself 3 days to get home.  It will work out, I have faith. ?

So I'm currently decided on going to the Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center at Milford Point. Looking at reports, it looks like a fairly reliable spot for the American oystercatcher.  It's also not a public beach kind of place so it wont be crowded. There's also the potential for ruddy turnstone and red knot. We'll see about those. At any rate, it will be more interesting than a rest area. ?  After that, there will be rest stops in a few places, harper's ferry, some park in Virginia, a hospital's pond in Delaware I think... mostly little stops that wont be too serious and then, Bald Knob in Arkansas.   I've almost got it all planned/mapped out. Hopefully by the end of today.

I still haven't subscribed to any rare bird alerts and, I'm not sure I want to... I mean, obviously I want to... but, the trip is already long enough, don't know if I can stand detours. HA. 
The little egret in Maine is only reported once in a while lately so I'm not sure I want to go chasing that one. I wish the one that was in NH stuck around. And there's been a tufted duck up in NH at a location that's only open on the weekends...  I think all I can do there is check reports on the Saturday we're there and, if it's reported at that point, head up early Sunday and hope we find it. We'll see.
Still lots to do to get ready. Once we're back, I might crash for a while but I will eventually have eBird reports and pictures to share. At the very least, I better get pictures of our life birds.
I just wish I could afford a new camera before then.

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2 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Never get new gear before a trip.  You’ll spend valuable time getting familiar with it , and missing shots while you rewire your reflexes.  Get it when you have the time to learn it without pressure. 

can't afford to, financially, anyway... BUT......  I'd rather have no clue how to use a camera then deal with this one. I've had it for a little over 5 years now and, it's always been a little quirky... then 3 or 4 years ago I dropped it in a muddy puddle...  Still works but, SLOWLY getting worse every year.  Once in a while it will reset itself like I took the batteries out for a long time... Sometimes for NO reason at all, sometimes it's more likely if the batteries are weak.  And then WHILE changing settings(date, time, image quality, etc) it will cycle through things I'm not cycling through... I'll scroll up and it will scroll up or down on its own. It's maddening.  Used to just do that sometimes, now it's VERY often... and now, sometimes it will cycle through settings WHILE I'm trying to take a picture.  Nothing like getting focused only have it act like I changed the dial from auto to something else. It has a mind of its own and I just want to smash it to the ground some days.
Had it all charged up and brought it to the 4th of July fireworks as it has a fireworks setting that works well...  But I couldn't do a thing with it so I tossed it back in the van and just watched.
So........   Anyone want to donate a camera?  HA
It works good enough that it shouldn't be a BIG deal unless there's something rare that doesn't stand still and is gone 2 seconds later. But I'd still love a new one.  Some day... just like a new PC, I've been saying someday for a while now but, it will happen......... some day... HA

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