Thursday, April 9, 2009

Rocky Mountain oh-High-oh

The Rocky Mountains are really something. If you have never seen them, you should. If you are birder, the birds there are every bit as wonderful. One that can be a real eye-catcher is the Mountain Bluebird. It's colors are such a vibrant shade of blue that it can be enough to make your head spin. Basically, you don't find it breeding at altitudes below 5,000 feet, hence the name.

Like so many birds, they may get lost now and then. Sometimes, really lost. So, the one that showed up in Ohio earlier this week by the Toledo Express Airport (207 feet above sea level) was quite a shocker. A stunning mountain bird on some of the flattest land in the midwest.

You might say it was a Rocky Mountain High in Ohio.

The plan was simple. Get to the general area, look for cars parked on the shoulder and the birders staring off into space. Park safely. Asked someone "Where is it?" See the bird. Take some pics. Go home.

Not quite.

Yesterday, I rocketed out of work at 5:00. By 6:15 or so, I was on site in Ohio. Not a car to be had. Not one. Wow. I was sure there would be at least 6 or 8 cars by dinner time, right? Nope. So, I had to park and actually find the bird myself. Within minutes, I had located it on the barbed wire fence. Very cooperative. Very cool.

That said, I almost never made it there. I almost got run off the road by a sailboat. Really. A sailboat. On the expressway. There is a little piece of driver's training we should all recall: check your blind spot before you change lanes. If you are pulling a 25 foot sailboat, you should reeeaaally check your blindspot. They even have mirrors to help you do it! Homer Simpson in the truck must have thought the blindspot idea was a myth or something and simply opted not to check. He also apparently neglected to remember he had an extra 25 feet behind him. So, he drifted over. Physics tells me a car and a sailboat cannot occupy the space at the same time. Brakes are a good thing. Oh, the name the boat? "Doh". Really. Can you imagine the scene if he had wrecked? Splinters of a boat named Doh strewn across I-75? That would have been classic!

So, with this little road trip, I have now upped my Ohio list to 216 species. In addition, I have ticked the blue beauty in 9 states - Ohio, Colorado (where I saw my first in June of 1996), Utah, Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and Michigan.

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