Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rare Sighting Of A Numida meleagris!

 I was rambling through the woods the other day when I saw a couple of large birds that were partially obstructed by vegetation. What is that?! It's not a turkey or a pheasant, maybe it's something special! Then I got a better look at it and figured it must be a bird that wandered off of someone's property. I found it listed in Sibley's as a Helmeted Guineafowl or Numida meleagris .They like to eat ticks so that could be beneficial in a high tick area. They're common in zoos and farmyards but I can honestly say that I've never found one wandering in the woods before.  That makes it a rare woodland sighting for me. Have you ever been fooled by a farmyard or escaped bird before?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

How Many Species Of Birds Are In Your Town?

 This year I'm taking part in what is called a Spring Census. The object is to make a list of all the bird species you see in your own town over the next 3 weeks. In this case it is April 26-May 19. This wasn't on my radar until last week when I was asked if I would like to participate.This is right up my alley because I already do most of my birding right here in Portland and you don't have to use as much gas that way either. I started my search at the Portland Reservoir which is now open to the public and has a marked walking trail.
 I was able to find some Pine Warblers, some of which were feeding around White Pine trees that had fallen during a storm last year.
 I found Louisiana Waterthrush near this stream but no luck getting a photo.
 It looks like this Black and White Warbler picked up a little fast food to go. 

 We had great weather this weekend and the birding action was excellent. I was off to a good start with 70 species recorded for the weekend. Highlights included: 10 species of warbler, Bald Eagles and great Horned owls on the nest, Black Vulture, Wilson's Snipe, Blue-winged Teal, Green Heron, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Brown Thrasher, and American kestrel. It said that a reasonable goal is to try to exceed 100 species in the 3 week period. We are not near the shoreline but should be able to pick up a few shorebirds. 

 I always thought the birding in Portland was pretty good for an inland town. This year, many birders have been visiting here due to reported sighting and then finding new birds to report as well. One of the things that makes an area a hotspot is not just the area itself. It also depends on how many birders are in that area reporting their sightings. 

Do you have a similar event in your area this Spring? If you don't, I encourage you to give it a try. Just Keep track of the bird species you see in your own town over a 3 week period during Spring Migration. At the end of the 3 weeks add up your total number of species. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

10 Things On My Spring Birding To-Do List

During the coldest days of winter I start to long for spring and start to think of different ways to enjoy spring birding. Here's what I've come up with for this year. 

1) Birding by boat or Kayak: I used to own a boat but haven't birded by boat. I'm hoping that I'll be able to get some photos but imagine it could be difficult if I'm using a kayak.

2) Birding by habitat: Instead of going to areas known for certain species I want to go where there is a specific type of habitat to see what species I find.

3) Follow the stream: I found a small stream with plenty of room on the side to follow it and that's just what I'm going to do.

4) Stationary Birding: There are benefits to sitting in one place to watch birds instead of walking around looking for them. It's not in my nature to sit still so I'm putting this on my list as a reminder.

5) Head to the mountains in search of a Black-backed Woodpecker: I've been to areas of Vermont and New Hampshire that are known to have Black-backed Woodpeckers but have always managed to miss them. I want to try an area in the mountains in late spring or early summer this year.

6) Birding from dawn till dusk: I would like to dedicate at least one entire day just for birding at one great area. 

7) Introduce 2 new people to birding: Introducing someone to birding for the first time is something I find enjoyable. it doesn't happen often enough.

8) See the movie: "A Birder's Guide To Everything": I've heard  this movie is playing at a film festival in New Jersey. I just hope I get a chance to see it in Connecticut.

9) Set up a permanent bird blind: I don't know exactly where or how I'm going to do this but I would love to have a place where I could set up a chair and have a perfect place to take photos of birds where I get a close view and good lighting.

10) Join up for a field trip with an out of state bird club: It would be fun to join in with a bird club outside of Connecticut. I plan to do this in an upcoming vacation.

I probably won't get to all of these but I can always carry some over to next year's list. 

Do you have any special birding plans for this Spring?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Elite Birder's Club Was April Fool's Joke

We've been having all kinds of ducks showing up at our local fairgrounds including the less common Blue-winged Teal (above) ,  a rare visit from a Common (Eurasian) Teal which looks like a Green-winged Teal but without the white stripe on the side. 

 It was the frustration of not being able to get good photos of these ducks that made me think about how nice it would be to have access to some effective photography/bird blinds. I thought about doing a post about the types of blinds I'd like to see built but then decided to turn it into an April Fool's joke post.

I decided that it would be more interesting if my imaginary blinds were constructed by an elitist birding club. I knew that the idea of elitist birders would ruffle a few feathers. 

 Once I uploaded the post I realized the joke was on me because people believed it but didn't get the punchline. No one was clicking on the link that gave it away. I should have known better and made it more obvious that I was kidding at the end. 

 If there were such a birding club I don't think that I would fit in well because:

  1. My little 1995 pickup truck has 230,000 miles on it and has riveted sheet metal covering the rust holes on the side. I'd probably need something a little more stylish to fit in with the elite birders.
  2. I've thought about taking one day courses about shorebirds or sparrows for the last 5 years but never got around to it. It's hard for me to imagine taking a 6 week course about birding.
  3. I don't have elite equipment and don't have elite birding skills.
  4. I  wouldn't pay $400 to join a club with a name like- The Elite Birder's Club of America. I'm more an average Joe who just isn't into champagne and caviar.
I do appreciate those who played along with this April Fool's post and apologize to those who didn't catch on.