Friday, January 8, 2010

Day 8--Bald Eagle

As I was approaching the outskirts of Washington, DC, a bald eagle flew into view. This sighting would not have happened 20 years ago, but today with the recovery of the bald eagle population, once again this magnificent bird is a more and more common sight. Other birds that have made a significant come back include the peregrine falcon, the whooping crane and the Kirtland's warbler--all of which you will be hearing about as the year progresses.

And tonight's posting is mostly about the upcoming year since I spent most of today driving from Chapel Hill, NC to Dover, DE. I did get to bird at the end of the day at Bombay Hook NWR where several tundra swans were in evidence. I am hoping early tomorrow morning to track down a long eared owl, a "target bird" for this time of year. For the non-birders, a "target bird" means a bird that I especially am interested in finding because of the time of year and/or the location in which I am birding.

Many birds can be found relatively easily because they are widespread, numerous, and breed in the lower 48 states. Roughly 600 different species fall into this category which is why I said in an earlier post that a respectable effort for me is a total of 600 different species seen in 2010. The rest of the species that one might possibly see in the lower 48 states are much more difficult to find because they have a very selective and limited habitat; they only migrate thru the lower 48 states; or they are essentially accidentals--lost birds that are briefly discovered thru the diligent efforts of birders in the lower 48 states.

Hard core life listers lie in wait for this last group of birds. They check the hotlines regularly to see if an accidental has been found. And when one shows up, if they can find the time and/or money, they will "chase" the bird in hopes of seeing it before it leaves. An extreme example of chasing was the 2 birders who live in New York city that heard that an asian woodpecker had shown up in Gambel, AK. This is an island that is about 50 miles off the coast of siberia. 12 hours after the bird's sighting had hit the hotlines, they jumped on several planes and made it to Gambel in time to add the bird to their life lists. These same 2 birders undoubtedly went to south Texas in the last 2 weeks to see the bare-throated tiger-heron.

As part of my slowbirding agenda, I am not planning to be jumping on planes at the drop of a hat to try to see the most recent rarity. Instead I have designed my travels around the seasonal ebb and flow of the birds. I have some very specific places that I want to visit to bird--many of which I already know well. They will allow me to see a great many birds but in a less frenetic way.

Over the past decade I have made great use of a guide published by the American Birding Association (ABA) called Birdfinder: A Birder's Guide to Planning North American Trips. The author is Jerry Cooper, an avid birder from Oklahoma. This guide helped me design my big year itinerary.

A second inspiration for my travels is the book Roger Tory Peterson's Dozen Birding Hotspots written by George H. Harrison. This was a gift that I received back in 1976 when I was first getting into birding. The third is my friends, and family who will be joining me off and on during the year. The fourth is the food focus and the fifth is the hiking in some favorite places around the country.

Well that's about it for tonight other than to say since the year began on a Friday, my weeks will always start on Friday. That means that today the bird count for the new week was 25 total, and the number of new species added for the year was 6. After I bird all day tomorrow I am heading into New York City to spend the night with my son, and to eat some good food. Stay tuned!

1 comment: