Halftime lull

Family matters brought me back home for a few days, and I’ve made the most of my time reinventing my big year approach for the second half of the year. The next few weeks will be a full-on sweep of the lower 48 US States, principally in pursuit of a very long list of ‘common’ species, but also with the hope of bagging a few lingering rarities. My Australian birding buddy Murray Scott will be racing around the country with me, which should make logistics and effectiveness easier to accomplish, though the risk of hangovers affecting morning starts could offset these gains.


During our 2016 Colorado ‘chicken run’, larrikin birder Murray Scott and I pursued Greater Prairie Chickens along with celebrity birder Sandra Bullock. She agreed to drive the bus for old times’ sake.


Home again, third time this year, and just in time for non-stop rain, and a prompt to fix drainage issues with accomplice ‘Duffy’. Poor old Duffy has a tough week or two after each time I leave town.

Legendary snake-man, and my accomplice on countless explorations of remote snaky corners of Australia since the mid-80s, providing assistance in times of need. Kevin Smith and I have worked together in many varied roles for 35 years! Crikey.


Slipping further into the realm of irrelevance, here’s the moment in 2017 that I finally got to meet Sandy Komito, ABA Big Year legend, and the spark that generated the book, then movie “The Big Year”. He clearly didn’t take kindly to the interloping Australian wanna-be clearly disrespecting some of his long-held records. Click on the prompt and cross your fingers that it will open:



Larger-than-life birder Sandy Komito.



My good friend Larry Manfredi (trying to keep it together) had offered to introduce me to Sandy, and I made the trip to make it happen. The three of us, and birding mate Brandon Reo all had lots of fun birding, lunching, and playing the fool.


Finally, and maybe slightly relevant, after the passage of ten months since I placed my order, my very own copy of Nikon’s game-changing 500mm PF lens arrived just days before my return home.


The Baby Jesus: Nikon 500 PF 5.6. This miniature optical masterpiece, and related lenses from both Canon and Nikon are going to revolutionise and elevate hand-held birding photography.


My first subject for new lens: a compliant Eastern Yellow Robin in my back yard.