Food. Everywhere. This town has so much to experience just through the taste buds and I cannot help myself. It’s no wonder why our migrating shorebird friends love to make Newport their pit stop–everything looks, and tastes, delicious! Though I love a good meal, I’ve never considered myself a foodie; truly, I’ve always snorted food just for the sake of survival, and if something cheap happens to taste good it was a lucky day. Something about this clam chowder, though, not only makes me entertain ridiculous musings, like shorebirds ordering steamed mussels in the local seafood grille, but also has me reconsidering my life choices. Maybe I should take some cooking lessons? Maybe I could clean dishes in exchange for fresh muffins? I hear that you can volunteer on a sustainable farm and get paid in fresh vegetables…or maybe I should start a blog? Oh wait, I’m already doing that.

Hopefully you’re still with me, and not lost in a sea of my recently discovered culinary obsessions.

I started my shorebird surveys this week. There isn’t much to see in terms of shorebirds, it’s either that the migrating birds are truly too distracted by the multitude of local options for pancakes and “better than most” coffee shops to be out on the mud flats, or (the more scientifically and logical option) they’re still flying up from the Los Angeles and Monterrey sites.  Today, I had a conference call with my fellow birders-on-duty to get more intel.

Doesn’t mean that there’s nothing out there. To the impatient eye, the flats are barren, sprinkled by the occasional flock of crows and gulls. I, however, being [likely] excessively thorough in my non-counts of shorebirds, have unexpectedly made tons of discoveries. Turkey Vultures,Great Blue Herons, Killdeer, and Northern Harriers like to hang out on the regular at my sites. One time I was just barely finished with tackling the stiff legs of my scope, and, in my struggle to catch my breath, I almost stepped on a Coast gartersnake. Poor thing almost paid miserably for coming in too close. My favorite species to visit, by far, is the bald eagle. It perches on a solitary post in the middle of the water, a slab of wood that looks Poseidon was playing Javelin and left his spear stabbed into the murky bottom of the bay. The times I’ve seen it have been early in the morning, when the haze is barely lifting off of the horizon. As I adjust the zoom of my scope to capture a solid view of this majestic creature, I often pause, scared that he is staring right back at me, menacingly, as if warning me not to get too close. For now, there seems to be a mutual respect, but I fear one day I might unknowingly and foolishly anger the beast and he’ll make me his next meal. Shoot, I am technically small enough…

Well, I’m almost out of bread crisps with which to soak up the last drops of my chowder. It’s time to move on to the next adventure. Oh, clam chowder, parting is such sweet sorrow.

Until next time!

To birding.

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