Sunday, May 18, 2014

Pluses and minuses

I've always enjoyed doing big days and I've started a lot of them over the years.  I've finished ... well, less.  I would guess I've quit on over half of them once the afternoon lull is due and a person can look at their checklist and project fairly well what number they'll hit.  Honestly, I would have quit yesterday.

Going to a bunch of different places is one of the pluses of a big day and it paid off at night.  The cold night made it a good one to hear Great Horned Owls.  This one was hooting in the moonlight at one of our chat stops.

Certainly no big day is more based on listening than in May.  There are some that are easy to hear, distinctive and common.

Others are distinctive but uncommon,
This Mourning Warbler was singing away at the Lakeside bridge, the most exposed I've ever seen one.  Any other day I would have spent a lot more time with it.

The other trick is filtering.  Birds like Redstarts and Magnolia Warbler can fill the soundscape...

 ... making it harder to pick out subtler species like Wilson's Warbler

With the exception of the Mourning Warbler, though, initially it was pretty easy to keep moving.  That started changing in Warren Woods, where the cold weather led to some of the canopy birds being a lot lower, probably looking for insect activity. 

Scarlet Waterthrush was a new species for me.

Normally I would have spent a lot more time here.

An Acadian Flycatcher was also uncharacteristically low, definitely my best pic of one.

Barred Owl followed its usual birdathon path in the morning, it took us a while to hear one, then we heard one at about 3 consecutive stops.  It was unusual to see one well though.  Rhoda spotted this bird in the canopy, again my personal best pic of a species.

You have to keep moving (the downside during the day) and keep moving we did.  By late morning we were in Warren Dunes, I was pretty exhausted by mis-timing my sleep the day before, and when we walked away from the Worm-eating with a Scarlet Tanager about 6 feet away that was ju-ust about to pop out into the clear I mentally checked out.  My mind was going at the speed of this Map Turtle.
We kept pressing through the afternoon, collecting various common species and ending with 159 birds despite the cold day. 


The University of Tiscornia said...

I guess this isn't a herp blog as that's a box turtle.

Matt said...

sooo sloooooooooow

Renardi said...

Is scarlet Waterthrush a new bird for the US?Looks like a Scarlet Tanager.