Dispatches from the West Preview: March/April 2012

My column in WildBird magazine changed focus recently from backyard birding to western birding. Here’s a teaser from the March/April column, entitled “Bird prepared,” about a spring visit to Big Bend National Park:

The birds had gone quiet, so now we paused only to catch our breath. Neither of us noticed the waning light until a few raindrops hit our bare arms. Overhead, tendrils of mist trailed over the jagged South Rim. Just an isolated desert shower, we thought. Nothing to worry about, surely, and the cool air feels nice.

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Weather happens…

I just got the call I was expecting but dreading: this year’s 20th anniversary Hummer/Bird Celebration is canceled.

Hurricane Ike is currently pounding on Cuba, and it’s forecast to hit the Gulf Coast on Saturday. Hurricanes being capricious creatures, exactly when and where Ike will make landfall and at what force remains to be seen. I’m sure our friends and colleagues up and down the Texas coast are battening down the hatches, but poor little Rockport is directly in the storm’s projected path.

As much as I was looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and making new ones (birds and birders alike), hearing some great presentations and giving a new one of my own, and of course indulging in some fine Lone Star cuisine, I’m relieved that folks in Rockport and environs have decided to devote their full attention to making sure they, their families, their pets, and their homes have the best chance of coming through this storm unscathed.

I’ll be thinking of you, friends. Here’s hoping that Ike deteriorates into nothing more than a soggy blowhard by the time he reaches Texas.

Stay dry.