Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Intense birding Day 1

The past two days I have been intensely birding. My goal was to count birds. Sorry, there was not a lot of time to take pictures.

Birds are important to all us because they are indicator species. They tell us how our planet is doing. No birds around, we are in big trouble. But how do we know when to push the panic button? These bird surveys give us a base line to see if we are doing OK.

On Sunday, I was helping with a winter bird count on the Federal Law Enforcement Center. We had a great day for counting. It was a cold but the birds were active. Here are a few highlights. A Sharp-shinned Hawk started our count. It flew out of the trees in front of us. Sharp-shinned Hawks are small agile birds of prey. They hunt small forest birds. Hawks are equalizer. We counted several species of warblers, the jewels of the bird world. They eat bugs that bug us. We kept going until well after 3 p.m. We finished the count day with an immature Red-shoulder Hawk.

After that count, I raced home. I was invited to a party with some of the birders gathering for the next day's count. But before I could get out the door I got a bird alert phone call. Two Western Grebes were seen off Sea Island. Birders had them in the scopes. OK, I can chase that sighting. Chasing a bird is natural adrenaline rush. You get there and there are other birders there. When new birder come in questions are fired off. "Do you have the bird?" "Where is it?"
Yes I asked the questions. Yes, the two birds were out there. They were way out there on the ocean. Bob Sargent was kind enough to let me look through his scope. I saw the birds but all I saw was a very white cheek, a very black above the white cheek as the birds bobbed in and out of sight. I did see a very long white neck and a very black back. Better view desired, please. But not this evening. The light was fading.
The birders all got to Bill's place to share a little chit-chat. It was a perfect cap to a beautiful day. Thanks Bill for thinking of me. Stay tuned to part 2.

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