I'm Back, Baby! With Trip Reports! How's that for click bait?!

After a very bird-centric 2019 and 2020, I really needed to take a break from the local birding scene to regain some much-needed balance in my life. That Connecticut Self-Found Big Year in 2019 was an endeavor, so I was looking forward to normalcy in 2020. Well, we all know how that went. Turns out, outdoor activities such as birding were the perfect antidote to lockdowns and quarantines, so it was back into the field for 2020! Don't get me wrong...I am eternally grateful to have had a hobby like birding to serve as an outlet during the height of the ongoing pandemic. But after two years of so much local field time, I badly needed a respite.

One of the perks of working as a hospital-based Physician Assistant through the whole ordeal, other than keeping me sane with daily human interaction, was my immediate access to the COVID-19 vaccine. I received my second shot on January 5th.

Two weeks later, I was good to go.

Florida in January, Alaska in March, and Texas/Arizona in April.

I refrained from posting those trips here for a couple reasons. First, social media was ripe with travel shaming from all the self-righteous woke morons that roam the internet these days. Didn't need any of that. Second, I did not want to gloat about vaccination status with so many folks at the time patiently waiting for their age group to become eligible for a shot.

So, without further ado, here are the snappiest trip reports you'll ever read.

Florida Keys - January
Equal parts birding, fishing (bonefish!!), beaching, and eating/drinking. Unbelievable feeling after a very long year. Also incredibly bizarre to be among the first batch of lucky vaccinated people traveling again. A scene I will not soon forget.

Highlights: Cuban Pewee and Black-faced Grassquit
Lowlights: hours wasted searching for PITA Red-legged Thrush

Cuban Pewee

Black-faced Grassquit

Alaska - March
Why visit Alaska in March? For starters, daylight is very reasonable as the equinox approaches, and winter birds have not yet departed. We're talking hundreds of Emperor Geese and dozens of Steller's Eider on Kodiak Island. It is definitely worth a look for the adventurous and curious winter birder.

Highlights: said Emperor Geese and Steller's Eiders. Also McKay's Bunting! (still a species...fuck off, lumpers!)

Slaty-backed Gull

Steller's Eiders

Emperor Geese

Texas & Arizona - April
What do you do when your trip to Big Bend is derailed by a wild fire? You keep your flight to El Paso, but drive west to Arizona for some quick and dirty twitching. Lucifer Hummingbird, Northern Jacana, Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Rose-throated Becard, and Buff-collared Nightjar all bagged in less than 36 hours.

That was a bit too efficient. What to do with the rest of your time??

Well, we drove back eastward to Big Bend, knowing that the classic Colima Warbler trails were closed, took a shot at the Laguna Meadows trail where Colima is far from guaranteed, and enjoyed prolonged views of a singing male. Everything was coming up Milhouse!

Big Bend National Park


Locally, I've kept my promise of generally not birding at all, save for our annual Connecticut Big Day in May, for which we raised a nice amount of money for the Roaring Brook Nature Center in Canton, CT. Our total was 192 species, one shy of our record.

Until next time, whenever that might be!(?)

 - Nick


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