Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What I've Been Up to this Month

Okay--get ready for a big ol' game of catch-up. Although I haven't been posting, I have indeed been birding this month, and I've added several lifers to my list. I'd also like to share some of my better photos, like this one of a very well camouflaged female mallard in Island Cottage Woods on May 5th:
Oh, great news! I'll be taking the banding course offered by RIT/BBBO this coming Fall. I'm really looking forward to it.

Three weeks in a row I was robbed of my volunteer time on Thursdays at BBBO- twice because of rain, then because of finals last week. I was especially disappointed since I had just started getting instruction on how to take birds out of the nets. I hadn't actually made an attempt yet, but that was the obvious next step, and really exciting for me.

YWAR-May 7, 2009-Mendon Ponds Park
My birding records are a mess. I used to have a decent system-after each trip I'd write down everything I saw and where on an index card. Later, this would be compared with my photos and I'd neatly copy the data down into a notebook. An example of my entries would be:

December 11, 2008
Irondequoit Bay State Marine Park, 4:53-5:56 pm

  • rock pigeons
  • 7 long-tailed ducks (juv. + female) etc.

Lifers are indicated with red asteriks. I record the sex of as many individuals as I can and the number of each species seen that day if I can. I also record any other wildlife I see (apart from chipmunks and squirrels, that is): dragonflies, butterflies and moths, mammals, wildflowers, etc. I've gotten into the bad habit of just uploading my pictures to my computer and not writing down notes the same day of my trip. Ideally, I should take notes while I'm actually out birding, not later when I get home.

Alright, this catch-up game is going to be summarized instead of gone over in detail. Recent lifers include:

Island Cottage Woods in Greece, NY--May 12
  • Wood Thrush

Island Cottage Woods in Greece, NY--May 18
  • Northern Waterthrush
  • Blackpoll Warbler
  • Magnolia Warbler
  • Black and White Warbler
Oxbow NWR in Harvard, Massachusetts--May 26
  • Veery
I also added Blue-Headed Vireo and Red-Eyed Vireo to my life list at some point in May, I just need to "process" my photos and figure out when and where.

REVI-May 18, 2009-Island Cottage Woods

Monday, May 11, 2009

Schooling is Interfering with my Education

The following was written on May 11th:
(then forgotten about during the hectic last weeks of the quarter, and is finally now being posted)

I'm sure a lot of you are familiar with the well-known quote from Samuel Clemens, otherwise known by his pen name, Mark Twain-- "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." Well, today marks the beginning of the last week of classes for me in this academic year. The sun is also shining and my camera battery is all charged and ready to go. Too bad I'm buried under piles of work.

Essentially, I'm starting to get slightly bitter that my schoolwork is keeping me from the birds. I keep hearing reports of wonderful rare birds in the area (a White Pelican is hanging around Braddock Bay) and it seems everyone else is out taking in all the sights and sounds of the gorgeous variety of warblers coming through.

Enough complaining, though. I did get a few lifers this past week, and I didn't miss out entirely on the sights and sounds of the warblers.

May 5 I visited Mount Hope Cemetery for the first time. I didn't stay too long, I found myself feeling slightly uncomfortable--I kept worrying about unintentionally being disrespectful, if that makes any sense. It was very beautiful, and I enjoyed the variety of wildflowers growing everywhere, but I knew I would feel much more at ease in the woods somewhere on a trail.

Apparently quite a few people have no problem being 100% intentionally disrespectful, as I found several empty beer and soft drink bottles strewn on the ground, or wedged in between tree branches. I always get upset and annoyed when I see trash thrown around in parks and in woods that are on public property, but I suppose the notion of people not caring about nature is something I'm exposed to more often than the notion of people being disrespectful of the dead. I do agree in part with the Buddhist philosophy that the body is simply a vessel while our souls inhabit this world, and that once we die, the body is nothing but an empty shell. However, I was not brought up believing this, and a large part of me still clings to the idea that although a loved one may no longer be in that body lying there, the body is to be respected and honored, as is its resting place.

Summary of that rant: Really people, really? You're going to go to a cemetery to have some beers with your buddies, then leave the empty bottles lying around the graves of other peoples' loved ones? WHY?!

Ok, done now, I promise. It's out of my system. Now, back to the birds. I continue to see lots of Yellow-Rumps, RCKIs, Yellow Warblers, and Palm Warblers. I always find delight in the breathtaking yellow of the Yellow Warblers, and I've been treated to several good views so far this Spring. I'm also seeing lots of Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers, and have gotten a couple fair looks at them from not-too-far-away, but not as many as I'd like. I find them to be very energetic, endearing little birds. I'm spending a lot of time looking straight up, and getting plenty of butt shots of all of these birds. At least I know for sure what the undertail coverts look like, right? *shrug* Alright fine--I see no benefit to butt shots.

Here's a series of photos of a mobbing incident I saw while I was at Mount Hope-
Take nothing but pictures (and maybe the trash of jerks who came before you), leave nothing but footprints.