Friday, June 1, 2007

Switching Gears For Summer

Spring Migration has been terrific. I didn't get to see every bird that I wanted to, but I certainly wasn't disappointed. I always prefer to be left wanting more.

Now it's time to switch gears, and prepare for some summer birding. I know of some birders who consider summer a time to take a break from birding all together. I see it as an opportunity to be more selective.

There are a few things I don't like about the summer birding such as heat, humidity, mosquitoes, biting flies, ticks, and dense foliage. How do we deal with these problems?
  • Heat/humidity-One way I deal with this is by getting up extra early to go birding 5am is best but no later than 6am. Even in the hottest part of the summer, it tends to be reasonably cool early in the morning. There also tends to be fewer bugs first thing in the morning. -Other ways of staying cool are to bird in the deeply shaded woods, higher elevations, or near the shoreline, where there is a breeze.
  • Mosquitoes/biting flies/ticks-I use long sleeved clothing made of light material and lots of insect repellent with deet. I really don't like using this stuff but I couldn't tolerate birding if I was getting bit by mosquitoes all the time. It's just a necessary evil. Just shower it off when you get home.
  • Dense foliage-If you go birding at the shore or in an open field, it's not a problem. I sometimes prefer to be deep in the heart of the woods.In the summer, that can make it extremely difficult to see birds. The solution? 1-Work on your birding by ear. Try to use your own personal strategies to figure out which birds are making what noise.-take notes, check your field guide-listen to bird song cd's etc. 2-The other strategy I like to employ in this situation, is to select an area you believe will be good for birds-(maybe near a stream for example)-and sit. If you stay in one place, birds should eventually come in to your viewing area. I've seen some really neat birds this way. I remember watching nesting male and female Hooded Warblers landing right near me , acting as if I didn't even exist.

There are several other things that I am looking forward to during the summer months:

  • One thing is vacation. I'll soon be going on a fishing trip to the Connecticut Lakes Region in Pittsburg New Hampshire (top pic). Here, I will be able to look for some of the Boreal species of birds that I'm unable to see in this area such as the Boreal Chickadee and Black-backed Woodpecker.
  • I will also be checking the B-mail for reports of rare species. If there is an interesting species reported that's not too far , I may take a ride to see it. I'm not big on listing, but it never hurts to see new birds.
  • This is also a good time to check out some new areas. Since you don't feel like your missing out on anything, you can take your time to investigate new areas.
  • I'm looking forward to experimenting with my camera, to see if I can get better results. Maybe I'll even read the owner's manual.
  • Summer is a good time to relax and enjoy the birds and flowers of your backyard. Add to that a little music, a book, or a cold glass of iced tea-ahh-The Good Old Summertime.
  • I can work on learning shorebirds. This is the group of birds that I've most neglected to learn.
  • Why not try to do a little sketching or start a little birding diary?
  • I plan on looking for some lesser known field trips, or maybe I'll lead my own field trip.
  • For those of you who live in CT., don't forget to check out A Connecticut Birding Year. This is an excellent rescource provided by the COA. It has birding strategies for each of the different seasons in Connecticut.

So-as you can see, the approach of summer does not mean birding is over and done with.

-What are you looking forward to over the summer?-


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Once school is out and things settle down here, I'm looking foreward to spending some time up at Hasty Brook. I went up twice last summer by myself and loved every second of it. We have a comfy camper to sleep in and electriciy to power the lights (and laptop). I'll bring my iPod, all of my birding gear and a good book or two.
Me- I'm a sit and watch birder. Last summer I hauled a camp chair down to the creek and watched the birds move around me. I think I'd like to get one of those bug net hats to try. I can't stand bug spray aound my face.
Your fishing trip place looks beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Vacation is a wonderful thing as far as summer birding goes. A change of pace, a change of habitat, a few or many new birds, what is not to love? I also like the idea of practicing your birding by ear. The PA Breeding Bird Atlas has taught me that learning to look for nesting birds can be just as much fun as looking for migrants. In doing so I learn a lot more about the birds than just field marks or song, but also habitat and behaviors. One way to avoid the heat and humidity of summer birding is to be the early bird and go birding early. In summer my active birding oftne ends by mid morning.

Cathy said...

Larry - You forgot to give 'ticks' their due :0) You are so right about learning the songs and call notes of birds for summer IDing.

Now if you start sketching, I hope you'll post your creations on your blog. It's such a good idea to stretch a little into areas that are new and challenging.

RuthieJ said...

I love summer birding! This summer I hope to visit a couple of nearby state parks that I've never been to before. With gas @ $3.10/gal. I probably can't afford a long trip even though I'd love to head up to this great resort we've visited before on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (I haven't seen or heard a loon for several years).

Bird on, Larry! I look forward to reading about the good birds you see and hear this summer.

LauraHinNJ said...

I love to visit the beach and bay after work to see the wading birds and terns.

Larry said...

Lynne-Sounds like you've got a good plan for the summer.I never tried the head nets but it doesn't seem they'd work good with binoculars.-that picture is across one of the ponds that I fished at up there-I'm going to be along the side of a river.

Larry said...

Vern-Sounds like you are a dedicated birder year round.

Cathy-I've sketched before just for informational purposes.-post them? You'd fall out of your chair laughing or feel sorry for me.

RuthieJ-Gas is definitely a consideration for me but motorcycles must be pretty good on gas.-what do they get per gallon?

Laura-I've never i.d. a tern beyond saying it's a tern-so I'll look forward to taking a closer look at them this year.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Larry,
You're right about good mileage on the bike (about 45 mpg), but some of my best birding spots are on crushed rock roads and I try to avoid that on the bike due to a major wipe-out on crushed rock a couple summers ago (only minor damage to myself, but over $1000 in chrome & cosmetic damage to the bike)

Mary said...

Larry, I've already had two ticks. It's summer, alright.

What I would like to do is join a birder group and go on my first official outing.

Also, I want to sit by the pond and look around. Just enjoy the view. Maybe I'll see a few lifers this summer, right outside my door.