Birder's Eye View

Sunday, November 9, 2008

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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