School is an institution, I will let your imagination determine what kind of institution it is. That said I am sad that it is over and that I am no longer a sophomore. The most depressing part of school being over is that I am now getting less sleep and waking up earlier than I ever did during the last school year, birding is a very demanding hobby. Do not get me wrong I love seeing all the wildlife and traveling around the USA, but I am still a teenager and I need sleep. My dad is under the impression that sleep is for the dead and seeing as I am not dead I don’t need any. I disagree.
One would think that the last day of school is the time when you go to someone’s backyard and burn all your books and folders (maybe only south Dakotans do this) or when you stay up all night celebrating with friends and sleep in all the next day. I did neither, I technically did stay up late due to our late night flight but I doubt that counts and I don’t believe that 5 hours of sleep counts as “sleeping in”. However, I think it was worth it. I may have lost my summer of friends, sleep, fun, and laziness but I gained a summer of birds, family, new acquaintances, beauty, and adventure. I love all the places I have seen and all the new people I have met. I had no idea there was so many great people in this world. The group I went with to see the buff-collared nightjar are some of those great people.
There was five of us: Thor, Dan, Olaf, Laurens and Lauren (me), if you look closely at the last two names you will notice how similar they are. Laurens the guide is none other than my self-proclaimed namesake. Details such as me just meeting him do not matter. He was such a nice guy and he joked around with me and made fun of my dad with me (making fun of my dad is one of my favorite hobbies). My dad raved about his guiding skills and we all were very confident we would see our target birds. When I met Laurens I knew that the trip to see the nightjar would be fun regardless of how many birds we see. It was him that referred to the first rabbit we saw as Peter rabbit. Seeing rabbits, some scarier than others, was a trend for the next day.
The other two people in our group, besides my dad Olaf, were Thor who is an old friend of my dad and Dan who is an old friend of Thor’s. Both of them worked in the Canadian school system and I had a good discussion with them over the problems with American schools. This discussion helped to pass the two hours while we were crammed into the back Laurens’s car. It was a tight squeeze. I got another respite from the boredom when our way was blocked by some very cute cows.
When we were released from the cramped confines of the car I rushed to the side of the road to spit out my gum which, over the last couple hours, had turned into a disgusting starchy version of what it had once been. Let’s just say that I will not be chewing gum for a while (just thinking about it gives me shivers, so gross).
The gum incident was weird since in all the years I have been chewing gum I have never had anything like it happen before. It did put a slight damper on my mood but soon the hunt for a five-striped sparrow caused me to lose focus on anything else. We heard the bird for a while but alas we never saw it. However we did get to see the nightjar. We saw it almost immediately after we started looking. It was quite lucky. It flew off soon after we initially saw it and we found it again on the road near our cars or at least we found something resembling the nightjar. We spent a good piece of time standing there talking photos of what we later learned to be just a common poorwill, oops. Unlike most of the group I was not disappointed because I had needed that bird. So for me it was more of a two for one sale instead of the doppelganger my dad said it as. It was a cute little bird but since I had decided to not take my camera on this trip I didn’t get a photo.
The reason I had decided not to bring my camera is that my neck and back were aching from carrying it and my backpack up a hiking trail near our bed and breakfast the day before. I had learned my lesson about carrying a backpack and camera up a mountain and determined that when we went hiking this morning at Ramsey’s canyon I would forsake my backpack and just bring my camera. This was a good plan until after I had passed my parents by a good ten minutes and was very thirsty. I hope you understand how hard of a hike this was, my phone determined that it was five miles and 19 flights of stairs, it wasn’t easy. I ending up waiting for my parents on a scenic rise overlooking the forest and I realized something, I liked hiking. I really liked it. The burning muscles, crisp mountain air, beautiful views, and the joy at finally reaching our goal all played a part in my new found appreciation for mountain hiking.
It did help that we found our target bird much sooner than expected and we were able to more fully appreciate the hike since the pressure of finding a code five bird was gone. The bird was a tufted flycatcher and he was a very photogenic little bird.
He was by far the rarest bird of the day but he wasn’t the only bird. We saw a western tanager:
Some magnificent hummingbirds:
And a black chinned hummingbird:
We also saw some non-birds, including one my dad claims to be terrified of, although why a grown man would admit to being scared of this adorable albino bunny I will never know. It is so cute!
As you can see I have had a very successful trip thus far, I met a man who shares my name, found out I love hiking, I got to see a code five flycatcher, and I got to see my dad freak out over a bunny. It was a good day. So even though I am missing out on going to parties, hanging out at the lake, sleeping in and seeing my friends, I get to see all of these beautiful places and watch all these amazing creatures. I am having a once in a experience that will mean much more to me in the future than a high school party or sleeping in all day. I hope you all are enjoying your lives as much as I am.