Birding Without Borders

Day 329: Rafting for Birds

Noah catches up on sleep and finds a Speckled Boobook.

November 25, 2015: Tangkoko, Sulawesi — For the first time in a long time, I had nearly eight full hours of sleep last night, and woke up at five feeling refreshed. I swear, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Whoever repeats this trip a few million years from now will have a big advantage, because the Earth’s rotation will have slowed enough to add an extra hour. 

Seriously, did you know that when the dinosaurs lived, a day was only 23 hours long? That would really have handicapped a big year! Of course, the dinosaurs were birds, and today’s birds are dinosaurs (slightly more evolved), but counting dinosaurs might have been more hazardous. A logical conclusion lies here somewhere, which is that I need more sleep.

Monal and I kicked around a place called Toraut this morning accompanied by a local ranger named Hendrik. Touraut is a nice patch of lowland forest on the north tip of Sulawesi (the part that looks like a four-legged starfish’s raised fist) with some equally nice birds. To get into the forest, Hendrik poled us across a shallow river on a bamboo rafta new method of transportation for my year list. I saw a Speckled Boobook, a pair of Maroon-chinned Fruit-Doves, and a Lilac-cheeked Kingfisher which didn’t mind being stared at. By the time Hendrik poled us back out of the forest before lunch, I was sweaty enough to consider just wading across the river. Yesterday I slipped into a rice paddy and wet my shoes up to the knee, and didn’t mind a bit.

We spent the afternoon retracing yesterday’s route through Manado’s traffic jams and out the other side, arriving at Tangkoko after dark. Sulawesi’s roads are twisty and narrow, sometimes barely wide enough to admit two vehicles traveling in opposite directions, so getting from one place to another is a deliberate process. I amused myself by watching my iPhone’s GPS readout, tracking our speed; we rarely exceeded 40 miles per hour on the open highway and averaged a walking pace in towns. This allowed plenty of opportunity to soak in the smells of fried fish, the sights of fresh produce stands, the sounds of prayers being sung at mosques, and the feel of the ocean breeze as we slid along the coast. More birds await in the morning.

New birds today: 9

Year list: 5374

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