Monday, February 26, 2024

Turkeys And Vultures In All The Wrong Places

Sometimes, I can't get withing a 1000 feet of a bird but this turkey was right in the middle of the road! I know you might be thinking that the road is full of turkeys but I'm looking for the feathered kind that let's me take pictures. This tom was busy strutting his stuff for a couple of hens.
I was just busy deleting pictures from my camera when this female Bufflehead popped up in front of me. Usually, they fly off or swim off by the time I raise my  camera. It's nice to get a better look at the more subtly marked female for a change as opposed to the male who are all white on the back of their head.

This final picture is of Black Vultures perched on top of a convalescent home roof. There was a dozen of them all together. If I was in a convalescent home I don't know if I would want them hanging out up there! kind of creepy.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Most Birders Are Kind And Helpful But..

Birders learn about birding at their own pace. Some learn quickly and are experts in no time. Others take years to graduate from identifying birds at the feeders to identifying a few warblers and never reach the level of expert. I fell somewhere in between. I learned a lot quickly but never ascended to that expert level. I still make mistakes and second-guess identifications. There are still certain categories of birds I have difficulty with. 

The top photo is a female and male Gadwall. That was one of those duck species I wasn't confident with early on. The markings are subtle compared to some other ducks. The male is showing a silvery-gray color with a black patch near the tail here. The female which looks kind of like a Mallard is showing that patch of white but this is in good lighting. Sometimes they might be far away with poor viewing conditions and then they wouldn't be easy to identify.
 Birding is fun but some birders take it very seriously. There is something called a birder's code of ethics. It's basic things like don't destroy bird habitat, don't overuse bird song playback to attract birds (especially during nesting season), and don't give false reports about seeing rare birds etc. There are many variations of the birding code of ethics. Here is one of the more well known ones: ABA Code Of Birding Ethics.

Some birders might shame someone for breaking one of the rules in the code of ethics, or be hypercritical when someone misidentifies a bird. They forget that one of the most important rules in the code of ethics is to always be kind and helpful to other people who share an interest in birds. This is especially true when it comes to new birders. The last thing you want to do is to say something that will discourage or embarrass them! Give them a break! Fortunately, the majority of birders go out of their way to be kind and helpful when it comes to sharing their knowledge with others.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Brant Were getting On My Nerves!

I took several trips down to the shore in January and not once did I see a Brant. Other people were reporting them and I even went to a location 10 minutes after they were reported there. No dice. Finally, I came across some in Clinton. There were about 3 dozen in total. I was relieved to put that behind me!

Saturday, February 10, 2024

No Repeat February Breaks The Monotony

Last month I was able to spice up January birding by trying to see as many species in my county as possible within the month. 

This month I decided on a different approach to keep things fresh. I'm doing a no repeat February. Meaning that I will go to a different location every time I go out birding. Many of us get into a routine of only going to places that consistently have a great variety of bird species. Meanwhile, there are tons of nature preserves, wildlife management areas and land trusts that people rarely visit. They might try it once but if nothing out of the ordinary pops up they might not go back to that location again.One such place I visited this month was the Bamforth Wildlife Preserve. A name like that kind of builds up expectations. People might expect to see wild animals roaming everywhere. I did see a few deer and I'd bet there is a bobcat or fox hiding around that might come out at dusk. I noticed that the field is being managed to have certain types of beneficial native grasses. 

I was committed to giving this place my time and patience and was rewarded with a nice view of a hermit Thrush warming itself in the sun. Someone thought to build a couple of brush piles out in the field that attracted what Ebird says is a high number of Field Sparrows for one location (5).I see Red-bellied Woodpeckers everywhere I go but it's always nice when you see them hard at work.Visiting different areas that aren't the usual hotspots doesn't guarantee you'll see anything new or exciting but how will you ever know what species of birds are at those forgotten nature preserves if no one ever gives them a try?

There's a place nearby called Miller road. It's just a country road with a little bit of marshy woods and a stream running through it. Birders stop by the area occasionally but it's certainly not a top location. That is, until recently when someone had a rare sighting of a Northern Shrike! Now there are dozens of people going there to see it every week!

At one point I was watching the shrike perched in a tree with bluebirds and goldfinches. They are both right at the top of the menu for a shrike! Maybe they didn't know what a shrike is capable of? These birds have the nickname butcherbird because they have been known to impale victims on a branch to create their own version of a shish kebab.

Anyway, trying to focus on seeing as many different species as possible is one way of going about things but after a while you've seen just about everything there is to see. By focusing on appreciating places you are visiting then the birds you see are just icing on the cake. Using this approach is a good way of breaking the monotony and bringing you that much closer to spring.