Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Oklahoma, here I come!

I'm so excited I could pop! I'm in Des Moines, Iowa, after driving since noon, and barring fierce storms should be in the Wichita Mountains of Oklahoma tomorrow! Scissor-tailed Flycatchers! Mississippi Kites! Painted Buntings! Summer Tanagers! Chuck-will's-widows! And, most thrilling of all, Black-capped Vireos! Plus on Tuesday, again barring fierce storms (well, maybe even rain) I get to tag along with Joe Grzybowski while he goes about his spring vireo work!

The drive today wasn't very fun bird-wise--it was cloudy and the wind was ferocious. There were a few red-tails and one Cooper's Hawk, but I didn't spot a single kestrel perched on a wire along the whole drive! One Western Meadowlark was singing away at a rest stop--I'd have recorded him but the wind and traffic were too loud. Lots of red-wings, one distant egret, and a dead prairie chicken complete the list--a pretty short one, and I hate seeing dead prairie chickens.

I had a crosswind through Minnesota, making it hard to steer and it really hurt my gas mileage--I only averaged 46 miles per gallon. And by the time I got into Iowa, it had shifted to a full headwind, and boy did that do in my mileage--it was barely over 40 by the time I got this far. The wind is noisy through the window in my motel room, too. Other than the crappy miles per gallon (and non-hybrids would have gotten way worse!) the Prius seems to be working out great for this adventure. I have one side of the back seat down, with an air mattress and my sleeping bag set up on that side, and managed to fit my tent and other camping gear (including a small stove and my coffee maker), food, luggage, audio recording equipment and all that stuff easily, while keeping the front passenger seat free for Photon. She's been having a jolly day--she met some golden retrievers, another bichon, a couple of yorkies, and some other dogs here and there at rest stops, and here in our room she seems to be delighting in the two double beds. They're exactly far enough apart that jumping from one to the other seems like a challenge, while close enough together that she can actually make the jump. So she's jumped back and forth at least 20 times so far. On days like this, I love a self-exercising dog!

Keep your fingers crossed that the weather cooperates this week. If it's too rainy, I can always sleep in my car, and I have plenty of stuff to do if it's too rainy to be outside. But boy do I hope I can take pictures of the Wichita Mountains and its splendid birds!