Blog Birding #98
by Nate Swick
The last week has seen some epic offshore birding on the east coast, the guys at Cape May Bird Observatory's Views from the Cape try to understand why:
Pelagic birding has been referred to as the last frontier in birding in North America as well as elsewhere. There is a vast amount of knowledge about the occurrence and movements of birds throughout the continent but there are huge gaps in our pelagic knowledge. For example, it is only in the past decade that we've discovered how regular Dovekies are off our coasts, and exactly what we have to do to find them. Much of this has to do with the expense and effort required to go pelagic birding, so every trip ends up being a bit of a learning experience.
Don Freiday, of The Freiday Bird Blog, tries to get you ready for fall migration by thinking about peeps on the beach:
This trick of looking rapidly back and forth between two birds in a picture, or separate pictures, or even in the field when possible, while focusing on a single character can really help you see differences. Here, what you should see that the bird in the foreground has a shorter, finer, and finer- tipped bill; thinner, more delicate legs (and it has a hind toe); and a slimmer midsection. That's the Semipalmated Sandpiper. The Sanderling, in back, is chunkier, thicker-legged, and sports a thicker, straighter bill.
Mike McConnell at The Digiscoper considers the difference, if there really is one, between dispersal and migration, or if it's just a matter of degree:
In terms of species and numbers, warbler migration has been about average with nothing unusually early or uncommon. With the Baraboo Hills only a few dozen miles to the north—and nearly two-dozen warbler species that nest there—a question whether the birds I've observed at Pheasant Branch are true migrants or dispersed juveniles has been proposed to me. I wonder where dispersal ends and migration begins. Are the patterns of dispersal predictable by species? Perhaps dispersal is merely the first stage of migration.
I tend to focus on North American sites here, but Birding Frontiers is a really fantastic blog dealing primarily with European birds, with great commentary and photography, as you can see in this post by Yoav Perlman about photographing nightjars in Israel:
This is perhaps the most important lesson when learning how to photograph birds. Get yourself in the same level as the bird. If the bird is on the ground – go down to ground-level yourself. If you do so, the background behind the bird becomes more distant, making it blurred and gives the bird more attention in the frame.
Seagull Steve of Birding, Bastrards, and Birds jumps with both feet into the indoor cat fray, hoping to make the argument, once again, to non-birders who think their cats are innocent of first-degree avicide:
So, as you can see, the modern cat is both domesticated and an invasive species; bred to suit the needs of humans, but sometimes capable of living in the wild...often they live in human homes, and take short forays into the outdoors at their leisure. In short...they do not fit well into any existing ecosystem, since they are a strictly human product.