Last year, I went to the Cape Cod Bird Festival to meet David Sibley. This year, I went with a carload of artwork to really spread Drawing 10,000 Birds. But even though I was there to be a vendor, I was also there to be a birder. My extraordinary and inspiring friend Raymond VanBuskirk became my birding companion as we struck out into the early morning fog at Race Point Beach in Provincetown. We rocked out to bird tunes during the drive. I highly recommend the album "A Guide to the Birdsong of South America" by Rhythm and Roots, an effort to weave the sounds of endangered birds with native music. The song of the Hooded Grebe is riveting.
I was vying to catch a glimpse of the Brown Booby that had been patrolling the shores of Race Point beach for the past few days- but no such luck. Instead, we strained out eyes trying to pick out a strange gull or tern. Eventually, Raymond picked out his first Cory's Shearwater, and as we were walking back towards the car a seagull that darted like a bat exploded in front of us. A Parasitic Jaeger! It was incredible how fast it moved. It chased down a tern with relentless gusto.
Raymond had the habit of whipping out his small red field notebook whenever he had the chance. He took field sketched of birds, with a pen. This is so hard for me- I always feel like I need to get the drawing to be something well done. But at Raymond's encouragement, I tried drawing a sketch of the Parasitic Jaeger with a pen. Every anatomical mistake made me realize my own presuppositions of the bird's anatomy. I no have embedded in my brain just how small a jaeger's head is compared to its enormous, shear wingspan.
As for the rest of the festival- I was thrilled to get a chance to meet Richard Crossley, author of the "Crossley ID Guides," and Miyoko Chu, author of "Songbird Journeys." I loved talking to Crossley- he is a really personable guy who speaks his mind. Chu gave a thought-provoking presentation on the ways that humans have affected bird migration.
All in all, a really awesome weekend. I spent time with some great people, got to see stunning birdlife, and my 332 bird: a Pomarine Jaeger.