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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Young Scientists, Birding on Whidbey, and Upcoming Travels

The other day I came across an article that I wanted to share about the youngest ever scientists published in the Royal Society's Biology Letters, a science journal from the UK. A group of 8-10 year old kids from a primary school in Devon, England co-authored a paper about a study they conducted on bumblebee foraging techniques. They wrote the article, aside from the abstract, themselves and hand-drew the charts and graphics. While the article contained no citations or statistical analysis, which got it turned down from several other journals, it is a demonstration of science education at its best. I highly recommend reading this article which has more details about the project, and if you're interested in reading the study itself it can be downloaded for free until the new year here.

While my last post was about the Christmas Bird Count here in Oregon I didn't get a chance to post some birding photos from our trip down from the San Juan Islands. We decided to take the more scenic route down the Olympic Peninsula, which means catching an extra ferry from Whidbey Island. We had some extra time while waiting for the ferry, and did some birding around the Keystone ferry terminal. We started at the Admiralty Head Lighthouse in Fort Casey State Park:


The coolest thing we saw here was a single California quail, which took flight as we were watching. As it flew across the field a red-tailed hawk dove down out of the trees and took a swipe at it, but the quail made it away safely this time. After that bit of excitement we also spotted an immature bald eagle that seemed to have an inordinate amount of white on it:


The marshes and ponds closer to the ferry terminal itself were a bustle of activity including flocks of northern pintail and American wigeon as well as hooded and red-breasted mergansers, lesser scaup, and mallards. This male northern harrier was also patrolling the marshlands:


Despite the mudflats there weren't many shorebirds around, just a single least sandpiper that wasn't very shy:


During the ferry crossing itself some other great birds were seen, including rhinoceros auklets (less common inland this time of year), common murres, pigeon guillemots, and the best find of all, two male long-tailed ducks, my first of the winter.

Next up, Christmas Eve celebrations here in Portland, and then I'll be departed Christmas Day on a train across the country to Buffalo, New York. There may be a bit of a gap before my next post, which will likely be coming from the east coast and will include photos of the winter train trip!

Happy holidays everyone!!

3 comments:

Rainsong said...

I just posted about a few birds on Whidbey. Keystone is our favorite cheap date. Two years ago we adopted a small terrier. He has become our constant companion. The only element we miss about our pre-puppy day is birding. He likes to find birds but does not have the same attitude toward them as we do.

Nothing like a cold day in Keystone with binoculars and a sack lunch. Good read here. As ever I am impressed with your camera work.

Warren Baker said...

That Harrier is just superb Monika.

Enjoy your New york trip and have a Great Christmas :-)

Jim said...

Wonderful pictures, thanks for sharing.