Birder's Eye View

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Field Ornithology | Day 1

Today was the first day of my winter term Field Ornithology course. It's definitely geared more towards beginning birders, but I think it'll get more challenging as we progress.

Day 1 mostly consisted of an introduction to the course and how to identify common backyard birds. For homework, we were assigned to go birding on campus for an hour. Fantastic, right? Sorta, except for the fact that the temperature never got much warmer than about 45 today (so much for living in the "sunshine state!").

Regardless, right after class I started off by checking the ponds. To my surprise, despite the frigid temps there were significant numbers of Cormorants, Anhingas, Woodstorks, and Pelicans.

Further down the road, I found a pair of Mottled Ducks, a flyover Roseate Spoonbill, and a single Palm Warbler boncing through the grass.

As I neared the sea wall at the back of campus, I noticed there were huge flocks of gulls and terns swarming over the bay. I made my way out to the edge of the wall, where the wind was buffetting hard against the shore, trying its best to chill me to the bone (it didn't succeed -- I was already warmed up from the long walk!). I counted several more Laughing Gulls, a few Pelicans, some Royal Terns, and a couple more Anhingas.

Continuing on towards the boathouse, I found a massive flock of mixed shorebirds huttled against the harsh wind. I couldn't count these in the data I was collecting for class, as they were a little far out, but I made sure to count them for my own lists.

From what I could tell, there were more Laughing Gulls, lots of Willets, a few Black Skimmers, and possibly a couple Godwits, although it was really hard to tell under the conditions.

To my surprise, while scanning the mudflats I also came across a raccoon fishing with the birds! The picture didn't come out too clearly (a testiment to the distance from which I was trying to photograph) but you can tell it is, indeed a content-looking raccoon. :-)

Over all it was a good day. Tomorrow we have our first ID quiz and then I believe we'll be taking part in Project Feederwatch. Should be interesting!

Until next time,

Happy birding!

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