Saturday, March 26, 2011

The One Hundred and Thirty Sixth...

Number One Hundred and Thirty Six:

Carini Italian Restaurant, Lunch, Sausage & Mushroom Pizza

We were to meet some people from the local Audubon list-serve for some birding adventure at 1 o'clock on the Malvern Hill Battlefield, this pizza place was just on the way. The interior of this place has always felt like you have walked into some serious Italian restaurant kitch, and I have long been a fan of Carini. I used to live on this side of town and they had some crazy 5 dollar (then 10) large cheese pizza special on Mondays, or something. Over years of eating there, I felt, that their pizza started to go the way of the downhill grease slalom, but today's pie was really good. I think it usually depends on the person making it. The crust was a little thicker than the usual style they do, but crisp and cheesy and delicious. Good stuff before the some birding!

The birding turned into more of an amusement of birder types than good bird spotting. The location was great for a lot of varieties; vast open fields, some deciduous woods and just down the hill a nice wetland that sometimes had migrating shorebirds, which was the reason why we were there.

Unfortunately, the organization of the outing was a little haphazard. There were about 8 of us, a nice couple in their late fifties that volunteered to drive people from the parking lot to the spot about 1/4 a mile away. There were a few ladies, I guess these peoples' friends, another man, probably a life long boy scoutish dude in his late 50s and then the pasty "guide"in his thirties. While the people were all very nice, I believe a few were definitely beginners (more so than even me), and the scout guy definitely knew his shit.

After the short van ride, we started along this trail, at a considerable distance to any of the wetlands to see easily with our meager binoculars, yet we stayed at this location a while. It was only when the scout guy forged ahead, with Lisa and I following close behind, starting down the 3/4 mile trail to actually get close, did we start seeing something. This scout guy, started out cranky, and was probably an asshole anyway, but I respected his style and the way he birded, which was similar to how Lisa and I do; just keep walking and find stuff, get to the best viewing destination then maybe sit a while. At one point we waited for everyone to catch up and a swallow flew overhead. One of the ladies said, "Ohhh! What is that? A Swallow?" The "guide", who minimally saw the overhead shadow, dismissed it, saying it was a Robin. Wrong! As we made our way along, finally nearing the levee trail that divided the low water with the higher water, we started to actually see some shorebirds, ducks, and a few other nice waterfowl, with an opportunity to view even more once out on the levee.

The scout guy quickly picked up on the ducks as we were a bit ahead, then the rest of the crew arrived. We told them what they were and where the best spot to view them was. The "guide" then got really excited to see a mated towhee pair in a tree ahead, which made all the other people get really excited as well. Towhees are all well and good, but please, calm down, they're towhees. After too long a moment spent on them, they then directed their attention back to the water, the "guide" telling us not to go further on the levee path for fear of scaring the birds away. We were really doubting that. The scout guy again mentioned the name of the ducks, and after a few befuddled moments among the rest of the crew, they finally said the duck name too! That is when I saw scout guy shake his head in the utter disappointment that he was even here. He, and we, were pretty done with this crew, but I think we really wanted to go over the levee trail, so Lisa and I made one last attempt. The "guide" then quickly said we should really NOT go any further, hinting that we might scare the migrating birds away forever.

(As far as we basically got to the levee)

Wrong. Lisa and I, and I think that scout dude, knew enough about birding that we would not screw it up; maybe he was talking about the rest of the group, still ooo-ing and ahh-ing over the towhees, but it didn't matter by this time. I turned to Lisa and gave her a look, then we both looked up the trail we had just come from and saw scout guy making a bee-line the fuck out of there; back to the parking lot. Screw the van ride back. Lisa asked if we should follow that guy's lead. Yes.

So we followed about a 1/4 mile behind him back up the road, not even bothering to try to wait for the rest of the crew to give us a ride back; it really wasn't that far of a walk back anyway. That dude was outta here, and so were we. It was a great walk back, reminding me of some of the hilly areas in the mountains. As we were nearly back to the battlefield parking lot, the crew in the van pulled along side and asked if we wanted a ride the rest of the way. We politely declined.

So while we didn't really see many great birds, some nice ones like the yellow legged sandpiper, the green winged teal and the ringed neck duck, the far more interesting part of the adventure was the different birders! I don't think we'll be going of this particular guide's trip anytime soon, however, we really enjoyed the area and will definitely go there again.

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