Birder's Eye View

Friday, April 24, 2009

Research papers and baby birds

Just a quick post to say that I may be MIA on my blog for a couple weeks, due to the accelarating pace of the semester. Two and a half more weeks of school is surely not enough time to get everything done, so I'll most likely be setting aside the blog until finals are over.

My biggest concern right now is this research paper I'm working on for Environmental Biology, about the effects of pond salinity on bird diversity. As a college freshman, I've never written a research paper before. And while it only needs to be 5 pages long, I am thoroughly overwhelmed (which doesn't give me much hope for the next few years, when I'll be writing at least a few 20+ page papers!).

Today I did take a study break however, to go visit a nest of baby mockingbirds near one of the dorms. The mother mockingbird was positively ticked off by the presence of my friends and I, when she flew into the bush to feed the chicks (you can see her in the background about half-way through the video, below).

They were pretty cute though -- I really hope they fledge successfully in the next couple weeks.

Until next time,

Happy birding!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Destination: South Dakota

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain

Explore. Dream. Discover. I don't think there is any quote that better describes my life (and the way I'm feeling right now!) than the one above.

Without getting into the details of how this incredible opportunity came about, long story short, I'm going to South Dakota in August!

I completely did not expect this at all; I had already made plans for coming back to school early. And then 3 days ago South Dakota happened.

What else was I going to do? I really wanted to spend August back at school, but how could I possibly be here while the rest of my family is up chilling in Mt. Rushmore? It didn't take much to convince me to come along. When my mom sent me the rough draft of our itinerary and a link to a SD birding site, I was sold.

I haven't really traveled anywhere since birding camp in Maine two years ago, so I am more than ready to get on the road (or rather, in the air!) again.

I am so excited. there is nothing I love more than seeing new places, new people, (new birds!), exploring it all. I can't wait!

Until next time,

Happy birding!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Birder's luck

It has been far too long since my last post! All I have to blame for that is luck -- birder's luck, that is. ;-)

As usual, college is keeping me swamped with work, but fortunately part of this work involves birding a couple of hours a week. As we near the end of the semester, my environmental biology class is doing a final project where we are surveying campus bird species to determine how the salinity of the water affects the diversity of species using it.

Sounds cool, right? Well, as luck would have it, the day we got the assignment I ended up in the hospital with food poisoning and missed almost the entire week of school.

After that, though, my luck changed for the better. Sort of. It was great to get outside and go birding again, but, despite the fact that we're supposed to be getting into the height of spring migration, I have seen relatively few birds in the 3 bird counts I've done so far.

Off the top of my head, the birds I've seen while surveying include:
  • Tricolored Heron
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Little Blue Heron
  • Roseate Spoonbill
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Anhinga
  • Osprey
  • White Ibis
  • Great Egret
  • Snowy Egret
  • Black-crowned Night Heron
  • Mottled Duck
  • Common Moorhen
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Least Tern
  • Sandwich Tern
  • Brown Pelican
  • Laughing Gull
  • Ring-billed Gull
  • Blue Jay
  • Mockingbird
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Boat-tailed Grackel
  • Fish Crow
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • European Starling
  • Tree Swallow

It's not bad, but based on our location and the time of year, I would hope to be seeing more migratory species.

Part of the problem may be the weather. Last week, temperatures dropped into the 50s and 60s with incredibly high winds, which is unheard of for this late in the season. Silly Florida weather.

Well, everything seems to be getting back to normal now. One more bird survey to do, one more month of school, and a huge load of work to do.

Until next time,

Happy birding!