Thursday, October 11, 2012


Had to blog on 10/11/12!

Birdseye has been terrific to use. It is an ap that you can purchase for your smartphone that uses Ebird data and Google maps. They do have a disclaimer when you ask for directions. Believe them! We have encountered locked gates, impassable roads, back yards, and my favorite, the 'hotspot' that is obviously the geographical center point of a day-long birding trip. John seems to think something magical will happen if only we arrive at that exact longitude and latitude.

Geography is not the only barrier. Sometimes, sheer numbers get in the way. One bird in a large park or in a large flock is like looking for a needle in a haystack. The Baird's Sparrow near Portal AZ and the Blue-Footed Booby at the Salton Sea are recent examples. Whether they were there or not, we didn't see them.

Then there is death. The Yellow-Legged Gull had shown up in Newfoundland for several years. Why it chose to spend winter there when it normally lived down by the Mediterranean is odd. It probably met with some harm somewhere, because it wasn't there this last January. -- We met the man who had reported an Eastern Screech Owl every day for months at a park in Austin, Texas. He speculated that the local Barred Owls had killed it because he hadn't seen it the last two days. Or that day, when we were there at the park with him. -- Those lost birds, like the Common Cuckoo in Watsonville CA, what happens to make them disappear? Do they find their way home? Not likely. Or do they succumb to unfamiliar predators? At least we saw the poor thing before it vanished.

Birdseye has been a great tool, NARBA is great too. It is hard to justify chasing a bird, though, when the likelihood of it still being there when you arrive is small. Rare birds are rare! If they are near John when they are reported, he might chase them. Most of the migrants are gone, though they still get seen here and there. John missed a lot of them last spring. We might look for some late migrants in Georgia.

John is still at 661. He is booked on two east coast and two west coast pelagics yet and will be in Louisiana with Wings and Dan Lane. There are other possible trips we can take before midnight, December 31st. He will get more new birds. The blogs may not be as frequent, but keep checking in. I'll be back!

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