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Friday, January 9, 2009

Birding Day

I spent a few hours out birding around the island with my friend Jason today, and it was a surprisingly light bird day. Despite the calmer winds, lack of precipitation, and flooded pastures, there just weren't that many birds out there to see. We turned up just over 20 species:

Canada goose
Trumpeter swan
American wigeon
Scaup species
Surf scoter
White-white scoter (probable)
Common goldeneye (my first on the island for the season)
Hooded merganser
Common merganser
Western grebe
Double-crested cormorant
Bald eagle (quite a few of these - including some amazing, low-to-the-ground cartwheel acrobatics from a pair of them)
Northern harrier
Red-tailed hawk
Glaucous-winged gull
Gull sp. (probably Mew)
Belted kingfisher
Northern flicker
American crow (or the ambiguous "northwestern" subspecies)
Common raven
American robin
Dark-eyed junco

There were several "big miss" species. I've used this term before, but I didn't know until just now when I looked it up that the American Birding Association has actually defined the term, as a species you had an over 95% chance of encountering and didn't. I would include on our "big miss" list for today the chestnut-backed chickadee, great blue heron, horned grebe, and red-necked grebe, all of which have been mainstays on my recent birding excursions. I am also surprised given where we were and what time of year it is that we didn't see any harlequin ducks, ring-necked ducks, pelagic cormorants, or common loons.

We also tried unsuccessfully to locate a little limestone cave we'd heard about here on the island. Jason plans to go back and try to find it, and if he does I'll definitely have to go see it too.


Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Not a bad list for a days birding. Here an intense day behind the binocs should net you c.100 species, 60 - 70 if you're not trying so hard. Big miss = dipping out...particularly in respect to traveling to 'twitch' a rare bird and not seeing it, but also applies to common 'expected to see on a day's jaunt' species. You got the same expressions over their?



PS check out in a few days time when he's got it up and running - - its my mate's place down in Western Australia

Monika said...

Big miss has the same meanings over here. 100 species in a day is a great list! Every spring, my dad and I do a "big day" (Do you have that expression - trying to see as many species as you can in 24 hours?). We try to go to as many diverse habitats and see as many species as we can, often starting predawn to see if we can't pick up any owls. We haven't hit 100 yet, but topped 80 a couple of times.

I'll make sure to check out that blog!


Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Hi Monika

Bird races we call days like that often between teams and to raise money for wildlife charities.