Thursday, June 18, 2009

June 12 - Sparrows and Ales

A quick cruise of Kiptopeke after I broke down camp in the morning did not turn up much. I opted to head out to Truitt's Landing in Maryland (pictured at left). Following up on some tips from Cathy Carroll, I headed to this spot for possible trip life bird #2. The sandy road took me to the beach where I hoped to find Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow. Within minutes, Seaside Sparrows and Willets were noted. About 10 minutes in, I spotted a sparrow flying low. It landed on a stubby twig and was joined by another. Both sparrows. Orangish triangle around the gray cheek! Streaking on the chest! Bingo! Life bird #629! I was hoping for a better study of the bird, but they never cooperated. My view, through a scope, lasted perhaps 3-5 seconds. That is actually pretty good, I guess, given their secretive nature.

The next stop was Assateague National Seashore. I had aspirations of walking the beach for hours, but the skies continued to look threatening and I did not want to wander to far from my car. Ultimately, the weather was the least of my trouble. The Saltmarsh Mosquitoes were far above the worst of my troubles. In seconds, no less than a dozen where on me. Bad news. I did not spend more than 1hour there.

During my drive, I managed to spy the famed horses of Assateague Island. A small group runs wild on the island. Legend says they swam ashore from a sunken ship centuries ago, but reality says they are leftovers from ranching operations a few centuries ago. I saw first one eating grasses along the edge of the parking lot. Yippee. Rather anti-climactic. The literature suggests you have to be lucky to see them. I practically hit one with my car. Horses are certainly cool, but...

As I approached the bridge, the vehicle in oncoming traffic pointed to a “rock” in the road. It was a turtle. I did my duty and got “it” (likely a female) of the road. I spied a Least Tern with a quick glance while crossing the bridge.

A short time later, I was in Delaware. Never in my life had I been here. A life goal is to visit all 50 states, so here is another one under my belt. What remains? Only Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Hawaii, Alabama, South Carolina, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

I eventually found myself at Cape Henlopen State Park. All in all, pretty quiet. Some fortunate timing on my part got me my “Delaware Ruby-throated Hummingbird”. Otherwise, I did not find it particularly birdy in late afternoon. The World War II observation tower really yielded a wonderful of the area. "Only" 75 feet tall, it was set up after WW II started to help shore batteries zero in on targets (through triangulation) in the event of an invasion.

For lodging (again with issues of thunderstorms),I got a hotel room a few blocks off of Rehoboth Beach. Normally, I would not pay what I paid, but she gave me a double AAA discount (must have been my dashingly handsome good looks, huh?). So what was the catch? What just happens to be next door? The Dogfish Head Brewing Company. This will certainly rank as a highlight of my trip! The crab dip appetizer was great. The shrimp with basil petso and feta cheese pizza was pretty good, too. But really – I didn't drive over a thousand miles for a crustacean on dough.

Two of the three beers were excellent. Aprihop was akin to the Magic Hat Brewing Company's #9. I am not sure who started the apricot thing but they both pull it off well. The Festina Peche was a bit of a downer. It looked good, but it all ended there. Taste was light and aroma was pretty week. That one needs some work. Both were seasonal birds (not available year round, so I wanted to get them while I could). 120 Minute IPA can be hard to come by and was the best of the night. For that matter, it is quite possibly one of the best beers I have ever had. I was floored. It comes in a little brandy snifter. The aroma, the taste, the texture, the finish – it is all there. Interestingly enough, it did not strike me as being really “hoppy” like one would expect with an IPA with 120 IBUs. In any case, who cares. Get one if you can!


Cathy Carroll said...

Paul, so excellent that you found the Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow here! I am also glad you found the Dogfish Brewing Company. If I had connected the dots I would have told you about this when we also spoke about the sparrow. I, too, love how you have done your blog. It love the maps and links, etc. I need to step up to the plate and learn how to do all this. Thanks for such great reporting.

Richard Quick said...

We frove to Cape May in May to catch the migration there and went through Delaware (our first time also). We stayed at Rohoboth as well and ate at the Frog Pond. I got in a couple of good mornings at Cape Henlopen Park and we went down to Asseteague(?) and saw the horses. Willets were there.
We took the ferry from Lewes to Cape May.

Deuane said...

Hey Paul,

Don Chalfant pointed me to your blog. Nice job. We met some years back at Hawk Mt I believe. My wife keeps a blog of our adventures as well....mostly about the beer but sometimes it deals with our birding too.

Two need SC as a state to visit? If you were near Ft Bragg you were within an hour of should have detoured and ticked it off!

Second...sorry you didnt like the Festina mentioned it was light and a bit lacking...well, and I assume you know this but, it is a DFH version of a Berliner Weiss so it is supposed to be light. It should have a bit of a sour twang to it. wife and I just returned from a beer and birds trip to the upper midwest and northern Great Plains. We had two goals, get Carolyn her lifer Kirtland's Warbler (finally!) and me my 50th state to have a beer from. We succeeded on both. We got her multiple kiwa just east of Grayling one evening on our own, In addition our visit to the Granite City Brewpub in Fargo, ND and the Broad Axe Stout I had there was the final state for me to have a craft beer from.