Birder's Eye View

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day

Woohoo! My 100th post since I started this blog!

Another milestone -- I tallied up my current year list the other day and... I finally broke 100! Considering that my life has pretty much been turned upside-down, sideways and backwards this year, I feel very accomplished. :-)

My list is actually up to 102 at the moment, and, while I probably won't make it to my goal of 150 by the end of December, I will certainly keep trying.

And last but not least: Happy Thanksgiving! Hope everyone has a fun, safe, relaxing holiday.

Happy birding!

Friday, November 21, 2008

e.o. wilson and birding

"When you have seen one ant, one bird, one tree, you have not seen them all." -E.O. Wilson

I thought the above quote seemed rather appropriate for this post. Why? Because I got to meet Edward O. Wilson!! Yes, the E.O. Wilson, the famous biologist, writer, ant expert, and creater of the Encyclopedia of Life.

He came to speak at my college last week, and afterward I had him sign my book It was an incredible experience, and although his lecture rambled on a bit, it was a true honor to meet him. I have always considered Mr. Wilson to be a hero in the scientific world, so meeting him in person was a real treat.

Besides that, I have continued to volunteer with Project Feederwatch weekly. This week was too cold for many birds, so on Wednesday I went for a hike around the pond behind our birding site.

I had never been back there that far, but I managed to find an overgrown trail, and followed it around to an area of vine-covered pine trees that were swarming with flocks of Yellow-rumped Warblers. Even a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher chattered bitterly at me from an overgrown arbor that stood awkwardly between some trees.

It was nice to take that time to myself and enjoy the solitude for a little while.

The weather has since warmed up, so I'm hoping to see more birds next week when I go out there. Hopefully we'll be getting more migrants in as the season progresses.

Until next time,

Happy birding!

P.S. Don't forget to vote in my poll on the righthand side of the page. Thanks!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pictures and more

Hmm.. two posts in one day. Something I don't normally do, but this is mostly just pictures.

One thing I'd like to add is that I put up a poll for you to vote on the name of this blog. See, I've been thinking of getting a more original title, since, when you google "earthbird" a ton of unrelated results come up.

So, I've been considering finding something more unique. But, I want to hear what you think! Please vote and comment below so I know whether I should change it or not.

Now, on to the pictures. Above is the little Eastern Pheobe that seems to be inhabiting the Project Feederwatch site.

There are a ton of palm warblers there, as well. I got dozens of pictures; here a couple of the best/most interesting shots.

(I just think this one is funny!)
Quaker parrots! I *finally* got some pictures of them! There are flocks of them all over campus, but I never have my camera when I see them.

And finally, one of my most exciting finds of the week -- the American Bittern! I got so many pictures of this bird, since it sat still the entire time, playing dead, or otherwise hoping I would lose interest and leave it alone.

Happy birding!

Birding update

After a short hiatus from Project Feederwatch, I have begun collecting data again. I was surprised to find the significant increase in species this week than there had been just a couple weeks ago when we started the preliminary surveys. It is clear that migration is coming in full swing.

On Tuesday, when I was getting ready to leave after a couple hours of feederwatching, I looked behind me at the pond and saw a large, striped wading bird disappearing into the reeds.

Bittern! I thought immediately. I have never seen a Bittern before, but I remembered seeing pictures of them in my guide. I grabbed my backpack and camera, and clambered through the knee-high grass that grew on the bank, trying to ignore the large spiders that scuttled up their webs nearby.

There was another birder there as well, and she approached the reeds from the other side. We heard a crashing about, and all of the sudden the bird launched itself to the top of the reeds and froze in a strange position with its wing outstretched. (We figured out that the bird was playing dead, after a few moments of inspection)

It was a Bittern! An American Bittern, to be exact. I snapped bunch of pictures, and then felt guilty for scaring it, so we left it alone.

On Friday, I had another close encounter with a large bird. It was 7:30am and I was having breakfast in the common room of my dorm. I was sitting by the window (watching birds, of course), when I noticed a large avian flying towards the window.

Its wingspan was big enough to be a Great Blue Heron, but it had a short neck. As it got closer, closer, closer -- so close I held my breath, sure it was going to smack into the window -- I realized it was a Bald Eagle!

The bird was less than 10 feet away outside the window when it pulled up and soared right over the building, right in front of me. I have never seen a wild Bald Eagle so close before, much less watched in flight -- at eye level.

Well, needless to say, it was a good week for birding. I saw a couple year birds, a life bird (the Bittern) and a spectacular view of a Bald Eagle.

I'll post pictures later.

Happy birding!

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