Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day two; Water bird count & sparrow hunt

Day two intense birding continues:
The Sunday evening I got home just in time. My friend Paul Lehman was coming into town. He was on a ticking mission. What is a ticking mission? Well, Bird Ticking is a game birders play. The idea is to get at least 50% of the birds possible in each of fifty state and the Canadian Provinces. It means you get to know the birds well and see the habitat. Paul goal here was the Common Eider, Long-tailed Duck, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, and Harris's Sparrow.
Paul & I met many years ago when I lived on the road. He was traveling too so we often ran into each other. Over the years, I have camped at his home. Now, I was returning the favor.

Monday Morning, we were at the Harris's Sparrow field at first light. The Altamaha Waterfowl Management Area just south of Darien, GA is managed for wildlife. There are lots of grassy field with great seed crops for wildlife. The sparrows are plentiful. Do you want to really get to know your sparrows? Well this is the place. There are Savannah Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Field Sparrows. Early we both got a glimpse of the Harris Sparrow but it quickly disappeared into the thick brush. Paul got several more glimpses. While we look he talked about where this sparrow might be found in the field. Knowing where to look is half the game. At one point, I flushed a Barn Owl. It was a beautiful owl.

I had the Winter Waterbird Survey. We had to leave. This year, the count was combined with the Piping Plover count. U.S. Fish & Wildlife joins forces with Canada and Caribbean countries to count Piping Plovers. There were birders on the beaches from South Carolina, Georgia and Florida all at the same time counting birds at the same time. This is a great snapshot of the number of shorebirds, sea ducks and sea birds there.
So at 10 a.m. We met Chris Cappola and drove over to Sea Island, a private island. Bill Flatau had a beach vehicle. Paul went looking for the large raft of scaup (ducks.) We head south to survey. We did find one Piping Plover and a lot of shorebirds. Paul called to tell us he had the ducks including the rare ones. We were counting so it took us a little time to get to 27th Street. We were not too late. The raft of ducks were over 3000 strong.
I have a counter so I took on the task of counting the entire raft. Bill and Chris started looking for the Common Eider and Long-tailed Duck. They were found and we all got looks. Still that many ducks was a stunning sight.
Still we could not linger. We were on the count so we headed up at the northern end of Sea Island. There were more shorebirds. Yes, I was in my element. By the time we finished it was a little after 2 p.m. Lunch and a quick look at Gould's Inlet and we were headed back to the sparrow fields.
Gene Keferl joined us and we looked and we looked. We looked at a lot of sparrows but none of them were the Harris's Sparrow. Paul did find a Lincoln Sparrow. After the frustration of the Harris's Sparrow the Lincoln Sparrow was a good end to the day. At the end of two day of intense counting I saw 94 species of birds. Not bad, I also saw pine lands, wetlands, weedy fields, beach and ocean and a lot of wonderful birds.


Anonymous said...

94 different birds in on day...wow...wow...wow.

Johanne Fillion

dAwN said...

Great job! Wow..thats allot of work counting all the birds!