Saturday, 17 March 2018

Costa Rica - Another taster

Sorry, too many photos to get through means no time to write anything. In addition to probably still being over-awed... Another reason it is taking ages is that it was all very easy when I was there as I had the amazing Leonardo telling me what everything was. It is less easy having to do it for myself at a desk using the field guide. Weak I know, but you simply do not have time to identify every bird in the field as you go along - you would see only a fraction of what was there, and Leonardo had one aim which was to ensure that Bob and I saw as many of the endemic and near endemic birds as possible. They came thick and fast, barely time to get any images of any of them else I would have fallen behind and might have missed something. And worse, Bob might have seen it! Anyone who has been birding in a tropical rainforest will know what I am talking about. 

Anyway, I am condfident that this is a Broad-billed Motmot, and it was at La Selva OTS Biological Station, a simply amazing place stuffed full of birds which we barely dipped into. Scratched the surface, no more than that. Sadly it only has one dangly bit at the end of its tail, whereas it should have two, but I am not that picky. I would also like to point out that these were at ISO 4000 - it is dark in rainforests, very dark, and I worked with settings  that I have never before attempted. I can see more "noise" than I would like, but at the same time the fact I have a usable image almost beggars belief. And I didn't stop at 4000 either but more on that another time.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Costa Rica - Taster

There are no words really...
However I will surely find some to relate the best birding trip I have ever been on.

White-collared Manakin

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Unsightly, messy and exciting

I have just been away for a week. No surprises there, and Costa Rica was sensational. However when I came back look what I discovered is now in my garden.

Persons unknown have dumped a huge unsightly pile of sticks in the top of my beautiful Monkey Puzzle tree. What was a lovely candelabra shape, a thing of precision and of daily happiness is now a complete mess. Whilst it is tempting to blame the children or squirrels, the actual perpetrators are a pair of industrious Magpies who are in the process of making an absolutely gigantic nest. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand I am very pleased – I will be able to watch a family of Magpies at close range – the new turret at Chateau L is at exactly the right level to get a really good view of all of the comings and goings. Magpies are characterful birds with bags of personality, clever and inventive. More interesting you would say than a Blackbird

On the other hand my Monkey Puzzle tree is a source of great joy to me – it is, as older readers will perhaps recollect, the main reason I live in Chateau L. I doubt the nest will be detrimental to the health of the tree, but it just looks terrible, and might get worse as the parents and (hopefully) chicks start chucking waste out of the side of the nest. And then of course there is the threat that Magpies as a species pose to smaller birds, several of which also nest in my garden – Blue Tits, Robin, Goldcrest. The eggs and chicks of all of these are excellent foodstuff for Magpies and are known to form part of their diet, albeit that studies suggest that Magpies do not pose a conservation problem to garden birds. I’m not sure what a “conservation problem” is in this context, but I suspect that it means that a certain level of predation by Magpies has no discernible impact on common species at a national level, but that at a local level (as local, say, as my garden) there could be huge variation. Personally I now have great concern for the other birds that I know live and breed in the grounds of Chateau L, but it is what it is and nature will run its course. My Blue Tits are in a nest box and should be OK, but the others are not. Red in tooth and claw as they say. But why couldn’t they be Oropendolas?

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

North-eastern Oman Trip Report

In late February 2018 Mick S I spent a four day long weekend in the north of Oman. I’d previously spent some time in the UAE, and whilst the birds and birding were not hugely different here, the country itself felt different – the people, buildings and food. And of course the Crab Plovers were different, as this time I did not dip them as I have done on all previous visits to the Middle East!

  • Travel was with BA overnight on Wednesday, arriving on Thursday morning at about 7am. For some reason flights to Muscat (as well as Dubai and Abu Dhabi) are really cheap at the moment, under £300.
  • We got our e-visas before we travelled to avoid the queue on arrival, but it still took a long tim.
  • The trip was entirely self-organised, with good-value hotels booked via the usual outlets and a 4x4 rented from Avis (this was really useful for many of the areas we went to).
  • The car, a Mitsbishi Pajero, was expensive at about £300, and became even more so when we discovered upon returning it that there was a per day limit on mileage which we had significantly exceeded by travelling all the way the the easternmost tip of the country at Al Hadd! Be warned!
  • We ate in local restaurants and coffee shops that seemed popular with locals – the food was cheap and delicious, but you need to avoid the fried options which can dominate.
  • Many if not most places point blank refused to take credit cards, including at petrol stations where the guys were wearing shirts with Visa and Mastercard logos. Get cash in Muscat - local machines took our cards without issue.
  • We took the Birdwatching Guide to Oman (Sargeant and Eriksen) and the Helm Field Guide to Birds of Oman (Eriksen and Porter)
Day 1 (Thursday): Morning arrival into MCT, slow drive south–east to Ras Al Hadd via Sur.
Day 2 (Friday): Dawn at Al Hadd on Friday, followed by birding our way through Qurayyat en route to the Al Hajar mountains. Evening at Barka.
Day 3 (Saturday): Birded Sawadi Al Batha, a quick look into a closed Al Ansab Lagoon, Sunub foothills south of Muscat and then finally Al-Qurm Park. Evening exploring Mutrah and the Souk.
Day 4 (Sunday): Morning flight home arriving UK lunchtime same day.

Pallas's Gull

Day 1
After an uneventful overnight flight we cleared a somewhat chaotic immigration and customs before picking up our rather dusty car and heading south-east towards Ras al Hadd via Sur. Getting out of Muscat was rather complicated as there are so many new roads and the signposting is not that great, but my advice if leaving the city is to head for the Muscat Expressway as this will be the quickest way to the main roads that head to the other towns. 

At Sur we birded the lagoon for a while, picking up a variety of waders including Greater and Lesser Sandplover, Terek Sandpiper, and one of our main targets, Great Black-headed (Pallas's) Gull. Being a bit tired we also stopped for a jaw-droppingly good turkish coffee near the market which had us back on our feet very quickly. At the far end of the lagoon, where the mini suspension bridge crosses, we took our 4x4 onto the beach to check out the gulls. Plenty of Heuglin's, Steppe and Pallas's found, but photography was a but challenging as for some reasons the latter was incredibly skittish. As it turns out we didn't find a bold/confiding individual the entire trip. Whereas the white-headed Gulls barely moved, every single Pallas's - without exception - always flew or moved further away! Who knew? Very timid given their bulk.

Continuing on towards Al Hadd, we then tried the Crab Plover location near the mangrove island. Here disaster struck as driving across the mudflats I got the car stuck. I managed to reverse it out only to get stuck again in an area we had just driven through. This time we were properly stuck and had to spend ages digging ourselves out, aided by various rocks, sticks, bits of old persian carpets, anything we could find basically. With dead fish on the mudflats and an incoming tide I was getting rather nervous that my Avis bill might be heading somewhat higher, but Mick did not panic and steadfastly dug and wriggled the car out and this time didn't stop reversing until we were safe. Probably took an hour all told during which we got covered in mud, and there were no Crab Plovers either. I had unfinished business with this species having dipped twice in the UAE. Unfortunately whilst I can now see the funny side, my state of nerves at the time meant I neglected to take any photos of our predicament, which is a shame as they would have been very amusing. All I can say to future travellers is to walk.

Sooty Gull

Indeed this is what we did at our next stop about 1km around the Khawr Jirama lagoon, and it was good that we did as the ground was even softer here even though it didn't look it. Once bitten twice shy so we endured a very long walk towards some white dots that I felt might have promise. Neither of us had a scope as we had cameras instead, so it took a long while for the blobs to resolve themselves into birds. However there were clear hints of black and gradually my confidence built - Crab Plovers. We had to take our shoes off and wade the last few hundred metres using the mangroves as cover, but we got excellent views of about 20 foraging birds at the waterline. I think they are up there with the best birds I have ever seen, the years of anticipation and disappointment made it all the sweeter.

Crab Plovers - get in!
A messy business. You can see the water in the distance.

At Ras al Hadd we drove past the fort and alongside the Kwahr al Hajar where we discovered hundreds of Pallas's Gulls roosting on the beach. In Abu Dhabi I'd seen one single bird, but this small distance further south and officially into the tropics there were loads. Unfortunately we lost the light early but not before being stunned by the amazing spectacle as the gulls took off en masse as people passed them - the beach is very busy with lots of fishing shacks. Our accomodation was a rather odd hotel nearby, the Al Hadd Guesthouse, built alongside the disused airfield. Cash only and they have no restaurant but will cook you a huge chicken maqbous which you can eat on their third floor terrace.

Day 2

Al Hadd at dawn

We were up before the sunrise and exploring the desert scrub next to the kwahr. Gradually the sun came up and started to light the desert, and we spent the golden hour photographing a crazily cooperative Desert Wheatear. Also present were plenty of Crested Lark and a few Black-crowned Sparrow Lark, another species I had previously missed in the Emirates. The tide was out so the close waders we had seen the previous evening were miles out. Still, who needs waders when you have Wheatears. A migrant Wryneck was unexpected.

Crested Lark

Desert Wheatear

Black-crowned Sparrow Lark

We returned to the hotel for an odd breakfast and then birded our way back towards Muscat via a number of small kwahrs along the coast road to Qurayyat. These gained us Indian Pond Heron, Red-Wattled Lapwing, and along the beach a somewhat surprising Pomarine Skua sitting alongside the gulls and terns. Ospreys fished offshore. Plenty of small waders on the beach as well, mostly Sandplovers, but it was not the ideal time to be birding - we had spent the best hours with the Wheatears. We also visited the tip here which is inland of the main road, and with nobody at the gate drove straight on to be confronted by many Egyptian Vultures and a few Steppe Eagles. Dead goats were really quite pungent, and with lots of accompanying flies we did not stay very long. In terms of photography it seems that you have a short period in the morning, and if the light holds, slightly longer from about 4pm. I am going to devote a further post to the quality of the early morning desert light as it is absolutely mesmerising in my opinion.

Pomarine Skua 

Egyptian Vulture

It took a lot longer that either of us expected to get to the Al Ghubrah Bowl in the Al Hajar mountains, the roads in Oman are not fast, and there is a lot of construction activity that slows you down. We got there with only a about 30 minutes to spare before the sun went below the mountains and in that time failed to find any birds - a Red-tailed Wheatear did a vanishing act and that was that. Outside the bowl where the sun lasts a little longer we found another but this too was uncooperative - it's a species I simply have to do better on. Our only Arabian Babblers of the trip were here too, near a funny bunker-like building.

The Al Ghubrah bowl. The sole entrance is the gap to the left.

Day 3
We had stayed the night in Barka, and so headed back towards the bowl at first light for another crack at the Wheatears. We turned off some way before Nakhul and hit a promising area, but were immediately undone by some unexpected thick mist - who expects murk in the desert? It did not look like it would burn off until the sun was high in the sky, and in complete contrast to the previous day it was not photography light. Plan B was to go to the coast at Ras Al Sawadi. This was a lot better and we found a singing Desert Warbler and some good activity on the beach in excellent light - however once again we simply could not get near the Pallas's Gulls for love nor money. The one good opportunity that we had was ultimately spoiled by locals coming over and taking an interest in our gear - always a risk I find, and the birds flushed.

Desert Warbler

Great Grey Shrike

Bar-tailed Godwit

Pallas's Gull

Sooty Gull

One of the locals. Didn't much like his T-shirt...

Al Ansab water treatment lagoons were easily found next to the Muscat Expressway, but as expected were behind locked gates on a Saturday. However we added quite a few waterbirds to our list simply by scanning through the fence, and the nicely irrigated playing field held a stunning Black-headed Wagtail and a White-tailed Plover. With everything behind wires we did not linger and instead tracked down Sunub a short distance away where we found our first Hume's Wheatears of the trip in the foothills. With the temperature now at 37 degrees neither we nor the birds could summon up a great deal of enthusiasm for photography. Back in the car we enjoyed the air-conditioning on the way to Al Qurm park on the far side of Muscat, and then spent the rest of the day birding there - tons of birds but unusually for a park hard work to approach. Species here included Common Myna, Indian Roller, Isabelline Shrike, Citrine Wagtail, Hoopoe, and various waders in the mangrove-lined creek that starts past the fountain and amphitheatre.

Pale Crag Martin hovering in the wind

Hume's Wheatear

Common Myna

As darkness fell we returned to Seeb (near the airport) and our final hotel to shower after a hot day, and pack ready for the flight the next morning. Rather than just sit in the hotel I suggested a bit of culture so we took some short lenses and headed off to the old town of Muscat, known as Muttrah, essentially all the way back past Al Qurm park where we had just been but at least we were clean. This is a fishing village with a corniche that has escaped the mass Dubai-inspired building program that is currently tearing up modern Muscat by building pointless 10-lane motorways everywhere, and we explored the rambling covered Souq and had dinner on the esplanade - a fabulous chicken shwarma. Both loving the non-bird photography at this stage, on the way back we got diverted by a number of stunning mosques which at night are lit from both the outside and the inside, and eventually got back to our hotel at about 1am.

All in all nice break from the dismal english winter and one I would definitely do again, although I fancy a little bit longer and a flight down to Salalah at the southern end of the country centered around the birds of the Dhofur region.

Muttrah Corniche

Al Zawawi Mosque

Al Ameen Mosque, only recently completed. Inside is the 3rd largest carpet in the world.

Trip List (in approx order seen)

1. Brown-necked Raven
2. Egyptian Vulture
3. Steppe Eagle
4. Pallas's Gull
5. Heuglin's Gull
6. Steppe Gull
7. Swift Tern
8. Cormorant
9. Lesser-crested Tern
10. Sooty Gull
11. Great White Egret
12. Little Egret
13. Greater Sand Plover
14. Lesser Sand Plover
15. Pacific Golden Plover
16. Curlew
17. Whimbrel
18. Oystercatcher
19. Greenshank
20. Redshank
21. Terek Sandpiper
22. Common Sandpiper
23. Grey Heron
24. Western Reef Heron
25. Greater Flamingo
26. Ringed Plover
27. Pale Crag Martin
28. Pallid Swift
29. Indian Roller
30. Desert Wheatear
31. Crested Lark
32. Red-tailed Wheatear
33. Black-crowned Sparrow Lark
34. Wryneck
35. Crab Plover
36. Laughing Dove
37. Kentish Plover
38. Common Myna
39. Green Bee-eater
40. Rock Dove
41. Collared Dove
42. Slender-billed Gull
43. Sandwich Tern
44. White-cheeked Tern
45. Caspian Tern
46. House Sparrow
47. Purple Sunbird
48. Desert Lark
49. Hoopoe Lark (h)
50. Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse
51. Asian Desert Warbler
52. Great Grey Shrike
53. Indian Pond Heron
54. Eastern Orphean Warbler
55. Red-wattled Lapwing
56. Pomarine Skua
57. Bar-tailed Godwit
58. Osprey
59. Hume's Wheatear
60. Red-vented Bulbul
61. White-spectacled Bulbul
62. Shoveler
63. Teal
64. Mallard
65. Glossy Ibis
66. Black-winged Stilt
67. Ruff
68. White Wagtail
69. Yellow Wagtail (feldegg)
70. Dunlin
71. Little Stint
72. White-tailed Plover
73. Siberian Stonechat
74. Swallow
75. Hoopoe
76. Little Grebe
77. House Crow
78. Whiskered Tern
79. Black-headed Gull
80. Kingfisher
81. Isabelline Shrike
82. Graceful Prinia
83. Alexandribe Parakeet
84. Ring-necked Parakeet
85. Pintail
86. Marsh Harrier
87. Moorhen
88. Coot
89. Peregrine
90. Kestrek
91. Grey Plover
92. Griffon Vulture
93. Turnstone
94. Arabian Babbler
95. Citrine Wagtail
96. Cattle Egret

Unexpected wildlife of the Al Ghubrah bowl...

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

The Echo Chamber

Having spent a week in a stress and agro-free birding heaven I came back to earth with a bump last Sunday. The sunny skies and lush rainforests of Costa Rica were subsituted with a replacement bus service from Gatwick, and the now expected every man for himself attitude that pervades Britain came to the fore when struggling with a cold I needed to get a warmer coat out of my suitcase. People simply stepped over me and around me, I was an inconvenience, in their way. No thought that I might want to get on the bus, or that I would be separated from people I was with. No, f*ck that guy struggling with a suitcase and sneezing constantly, just screw him.

I eventually met back up with Bob at Redhill after travelling on a later bus, and having had time to catch up on UK birding events on Twitter, had discovered that there had been a Snowy Owl on the Norfolk coast. There was a fair amount of chatter about it, and thousands of photographs, but the part that stuck with me was the almost sinister online backlash at perceived bad behaviour. Now having been away I knew nothing about the bird at all, but one of the reasons I rarely attend a UK twitch these days is because of how frequently it heads south and becomes unpleasant, so this did not surprise me at all. It was the usual story – a photo of a few people with cameras, no context given, but flushing alleged and 100% guilt ascribed with no possibility of a differing opinion. The speed and vehemence of response was startling though, all from people identifying themselves as birders ganging up against people they were labelling as photographers. My guess is that many of the contributors to this particular thread had not even been there, yet were perfectly happy to jump in with their identical opinion about how disgraceful this was, how universally awful people with cameras were (vs noble people who only use telescopes), how they should be named and shamed, banned, etc etc.

This is not intended to be a birder vs photographer thread, an us vs them, rather it got me thinking about how negative and poisonous the effects of the vacuum of social media can be. Much of the hysteria around the issues of the day – Brexit, US gun control, Trump, raptor persecution (to name a few where I take an interest) – takes place in echo chambers formed almost entirely if not exclusively of people who all have the same opinions. Debate is absent, people are not interested in the other side of the argument, if they hear it at all they ignore or demean it and the people making it (The Trump doctrine).

It’s a two way street of course and I am guilty of occupying the echo-chamber myself – I am not an avid user of social media, my only vice is really Twitter, On this platform I choose to see the output of very few people, but taking the Brexit example, a few of them are staunch Remainers. I am myself of course, I believe Brexit is a national folly the likes of which we have never seen, but at least in part my opinions must be based on the very one-sided rhetoric that I see float across my timeline. It must be the same on the other side of the coin. In the same way that I saw a plethora of anti-photographer bile on the Snowy Owl, so I am treated to a vacuum of anti Rees-Mogg and Boris sentiment. A retweet from someone I follow could lead to hundreds of 140 character replies all basically saying the same thing, some deeply insulting and crossing the boundaries of decency. For what it is worth I think Jacob Rees-Mogg is a supercilious so-and-so, and Boris a dangerous cretin, but I am not going to partake in a tasteless and constant monologue. Despite my views I am actually starting to get angry at the futile and pathetically-expressed views that some Remainers constantly trot out. It doesn’t mean I am going to change my mind, but it does make me question the approach to something so important. Snide comments in an echo chamber aren't going to change anything but I suppose it must make people feel better. I fully expect that multiple parallel universes exist where those with opposite opinions voice them in their own single-track hives that would also irritate me even if I happened to agree with them. Both camps propogate the continuing and irreconcilable divisions between them, both are incapable of seeing any other point of view. Toxic.

Now obviously my view is a rational one, whereby I can lucidly give many reasons why leaving the European Union is a very bad idea, and it may be that if I ever came across an intelligent “Leaver” they might have some similarly credible arguments as to why leaving is in fact a positive thing. Hahahahahha – see what I mean about the echo chamber? Very polarising. Similarly being anti blood sports, all I see is negative gamekeeper sentiment. Like Brexit, I cannot make good arguments for why shooting animals is fun and worthwhile, nor why the greed of landowners and the grotesque leisure pursuits of a tiny fraction of the population should trump national biodiversity. It is possible that there are some, but I choose not to hear them. Again, I can’t see that there is a realistic argument for why its acceptable to kill almost the entire population of UK Hen Harriers and any other species that gets in the way of the shooting industry, but in all honestly I have not been looking very hard. I am in the same vacuum that I am criticising. And so are most of the people who partake in online sledging, and that is my point. People get to feel good, to feel part of a movement or a group, to feel accepted as “one of us” – Pro fox or anti fox, shooter or saboteur, perceived birder vs perceived photographer, Leaver or Remainer or Republican vs Democrat, you choose your allegiance based on your values (or your lack of them, haha!) and that’s what you go with. Bandwagons are lurching full-tilt and we are careening to a world where I, not we, is dominant. Was it ever thus? I don’t know.

Back to the Snowy Owl, I don’t bother with UK bird photography any more. It is too busy, too crowded, and I know will encounter far too many people with cameras who I will detest for their ineptitude and their attitude. Equally I will encounter people without cameras who will be out to hate me for even daring to carry a camera, and I want no involvement with them either. These days it seems you're either on one side or the other, with very little middle ground, especially online. I'm a fairly mild mannered person, I also feel life is too short to spend it having slanging matches where nobody will emerge with any credit. So I just avoid it. I want no involvement (with one side or the other) in any debacles, arguments, shouting, either at the time or more likely afterwards and online. I’ve experienced that once and it was suitably chastening. I thought I did the right thing in response but I don’t believe that the venom of the internet voice has declined in any way, in fact I think it has probably got worse – echo chambers breed a sense of confidence, however false - on both sides of any issue. This makes it even harder to have any kind of sensible dialogue as everything is completely polarised. I've not seen this Owl, but I wonder how much of an attempt was made - politely and reasonably made - to ensure that those people without adequate knowledge knew what was acceptable and what was not? I'm going to stick my neck out and say none. Either the dial was just turned straight to an abrasive 11, which does nobody any favours and is not likely to influence behaviour in a positive way, or more likely nothing was said at all until people got home and were sat in front of their computers. 

For that is also a huge part of the echo chamber - behind walls of anonymity people will type what they would never say. The internet emboldens people. It changes people's perception of what is reasonable and what is not. Put simply it has an amazing ability to turn people into somebody that they are not, and hatred and abuse curiously gain respectability. Incredible when you think about it. It does not help that the leader of the free world fuels the fire so frequently, but the internet and other forms of intelligence-free media are some of the reasons he got elected in the first place. And the sad (so sad) thing is that I don't see it changing any time soon. It is here to stay, but please do think about what you can do to slow it down. 

Friday, 2 March 2018

Spare a thought for the birds

In the last four days I have seen over 300 Lapwings, mostly from my house. Others have seen far more. I've also seen two Snipe and a Dunlin in frozen Wanstead, and hundred of Fieldfares have been streaming over. The vast majority of the birds have been heading west or south-west, and the birding community being what it is the people I know down there have been seeing almost indescribable numbers funnelled into the narrow peninsula. Whilst the Wanstead collective have seen something like 1600 Lapwings in the last four days and has been incredibly excited, Dan Dan the Wader Man, a previous Wanstead stalwart who now lives in Devon had 5100 in an hour and a half. He was counting Thrushes at 250 a minute, and a five minute count netted 400 Lapwing.

With the West Country now probably seeing worse weather than the birds had been trying to escape, spare a thought for their plight. They have nowhere to go, nowhere to feed. Whilst cold weather like this might be exciting birding it is also very upsetting. Thrushes can be helped, indeed numerous birders and non-birders by placing apples and seed in their gardens can see these birds through this cold snap. It is harder to know how to help a Lapwing or Snipe, birds that probe into soft soil or mud - ground that is not only frozen but covered in a layer of snow several inches deep. The sad conclusion is that some of these birds are not going to make it. They were a week or so away from safety - yesterday was the meteorological start of spring - and now they are facing weather that is worse than anything this winter has so far produced and many will likely perish as a result. 

My Wanstead Lapwing total has increased beyond the 1000 tally with this cold weather event, one of the Snipe was only my third from the garden, and it's my second patch Dunlin. Great for the stats, not so great for the birds, but that's life. Being a bird is never easy, there are pressures from all sides. Roosting flocks on what clear ground there is are flushed by insensitive dog-walkers or joggers (in shorts!), and places that once might have been safe havens no longer exist, the weather is just one more element in the struggle. We should do what we can to ease the pressure - trying to convince dog owners to keep their pets on leads is nigh on impossible, but feeding birds in your garden or elsewhere is one of those easy things. Many of these birds will make it, they are tough and they are resourceful, they just need a little bit of help.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Second time lucky

The first "new" (broken) camera was returned whence it came. Somehow I managed to source a second "new" camera in short enough order to take it to Oman, which is where I was at the end of last week. This one worked a lot better and I think I quite like it. I have also filled it with sand so I am somewhat bound to now keep it. It is just a tool, not something to wrap up in cotton wool. Anyway, to end February here is an extremely friendly Desert Wheatear that also liked the camera a lot. He was so persistent that I considered giving it to him, but my backup is a still a bit hit and miss so I had to keep it. And what does a Wheatear need with a camera anyway? Well this particular Wheatear would have adored to have had a very tiny camera with which to take selfies. Instead he had to content himself with frequent and lengthy self admiration in a defunct Toyota wing mirror abandoned in the desert. I might send him a print.