Sunday, May 27, 2018

Good Birds In Bad Weather

 I went out birding at a stretch of powerline cuts in Portland last weekend. As you can see, it was a very foggy morning.
If it weren't for the fog I might have captured a really nice photo of a Scarlet Tanager.
This is another crappy photo of a Wilson's Warbler which I rarely ever see.
 They have been clearing a lot of trees and vegetation this year  from some of my favorite spots which has decreased the number of migrating birds I usually see there. 

 I've never walked the whole length of this particular stretch of powerline cut before and was very encouraged by the large number of Blue-winged Warblers, Eastern Towhees, and Prairie Warblers (in photo) that I saw (about 15-20 of each species). I downplayed my numbers on eBird a little because they wanted evidence to justify the high number of particular species I was seeing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Mystery Bog Bird Sounds

I got a call from someone telling me that there was a mystery bird making strange sounds out in the bog across from his home. I heard the strange sounds and did not know what to make of them because I could not find the source of the call. I thought maybe a cuckoo or a marsh bird of some sort. I even fell into the water trying to track this mystery bird down. After falling into the water and failing to match up the sound on google, I decided to ask for help. 
There was a birder who lived nearby who is a step up from me in the birding skills department that offered to help (thanks Tim). The mystery bird happened to be a Pied-billed Grebe which I have seen many times but never heard. They sound a lot more interesting than they look! I never did see the grebe this time as it turned out to be a very sneaky one. You can click on this All About Birds Link and listen to some of the sounds I was hearing from the Pied-Billed Grebe

Have you ever come across a bird vocalization that you couldn't identify?

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

eBird Helps Draw Attention To Nature Preserves

 One of the features I like most on eBird is the ability to view recently visited areas in your region.This is helpful in viewing lists of birds in areas near you. Often you will see familiar hotspots listed which is helpful if you are interested in seeing particular species of birds. What interests me the most is when I see a place listed that is not one of those popular hotspots. I am curious to see what sorts of birds have been seen in some little-known nature preserve or land trust.
 I was recently driving around the Maromas area of Middletown when I came upon a sign which read: Katchen Coley Mountain Laurel PreserveWhen I read that sign I immediately felt the need to stop and explore the trail. I was pleasantly surprised that it was not only loaded with Mountain Laurel but also had a nice stand of pitch pine complete with Pine Warblers.
The first bird I encountered was A Great-crested Flycatcher which was making its croaking call and its loud WEEEEP! cry.
As with many of the nature preserves I've explored there was not a huge diversity of species but the habitat which included powerline cuts,vernal pools and a small trickling stream running through the woods seemed to attract a large number of particular species.
I saw and/or heard several Prairie Warblers(above), 8 Eastern Towhees, and at last 6 Worm-eating Warblers. Not to mention my first Barred Owl of the year........... 
..............and 3 Indigo Buntings!.................

There is usually something unique about a nature preserve that made it worth saving in the first place. Submitting data into eBird can help bring attention to these special places that might otherwise be overlooked.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Sometimes It's A Relief To Have Fewer Choices

 In this day and age it sometimes feels like there are too many choices. It's nice to have options but it can be overwhelming to search through hundreds of channels on a television or trying to navigate through a supermarket trying to find just the right thing.I recently cut cable and found it a relief to only have to choose from a dozen or so stations that come in using an over the air antenna. It doesn't take long to decide if there is something worth watching or if it's time to break out a book.

I get tired of trying to decide here to go birding sometimes so when time or circumstances limits my choices it is a relief in some ways. I only had enough time to pop into the fairgrounds one morning to watch a Killdeer wading in a mud puddle.
 I was on my way home and had just enough time to check a short trail in Hurd Park where I was able to find a Hooded Warbler!
 I was without my car one morning and had to resort to finding a place within walking distance to go bird-watching. I was ever so happy to see a Black and White Warbler. If I had my car I would have probably been eager to find the next best place and the next best bird. Fewer choices can= less stress and more appreciation of hat we do have.