Monday, March 3, 2014

Birding Adventures

Birding all weekend was a ton of fun! On Saturday we saw 28 different species at Bluebonnet Swamp and Sunday about the same at Greenwood Park. Both days I came home and took a nap. Early mornings are brutal; I dislike them to my core.

Our instructor uses a trick of playing a screech owl sound on her smart phone, putting the phone down on a low limb or on the forest edge, and then standing back to see who emerges. By playing the screech owl sound, for instance, it puts all the birds on high alert. There is definitely a lot of movement using raptor sounds. She encourages us to do this sparingly so as not to stress or agitate the birds too much. I saw my first hermit thrush using this method, and got photos of the eastern towhee and ruby-crowned kinglet with this same trick. I will be trying this occasionally on my own if I'm not seeing birds. There are apps with sound only, or spring for a full-fledged bird app like iBird, which is what I have.

I did not take my camera Saturday because 1) I go to Bluebonnet Swamp all the time; and 2) I wanted to learn and not be distracted with photography. Here is some of what I saw on Sunday.
Pied-billed grebe

Ruby-crowned kinglet

Eastern towhee.
Not the best image, but at least I have proof that I've seen him.

Japanese magnolia

Field of wildflowers
Another trick is to learn the call or song of each bird. Oftentimes our instructor heard the birds first, then knew they were nearby so she could look for them.

I hope this helps some beginning birders out there. I can't wait for our field trip next weekend.

32 comments:

R. Mac Wheeler said...

I don't think I'm patient enuf to ever be a 'birder' ... though I love all life. Which includes trees. I love trees. They are so cool. [oops off subject]. But I love that I can visit blogs like yours and get beautiful shots of the smaller birds I miss, as I pound down the trail.

Linda at To Behold The Beauty said...

You found some treasures on your Sunday outing. I've never seen any of these...the grebe, the kinglet, or that particular towhee. The photo of the magnolia is beautiful! It doesn't seem like a field of wildflowers will ever be visible again. We're still under a blanket of snow.

Anvilcloud said...

The flower pics look marvellous.

TexWisGirl said...

beautiful springtime! we got hit with pelting ice/thundersnow on sunday and down into teens last night so i think our budding trees and blooms are kaput again.

LOVE the pied-billed! one of my all-time favorites! had one or two that used to winter here, but haven't been around the last couple of winters. and i'd love to see a towhee, too!

Kim Stevens said...

Oh my goodness how fun, and I've not seen any of the bird you showed here. Love that photo of the wildflowers.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I never thought of using the sound of a bird of prey to stir the other birds - cool idea. In moderation of course.

Karen said...

What a neat trick! I don't have a smart phone though. That Kinglet is so sweet! Lovely flower shots!

hootnonny said...

Clever of you to leave your camera at home. Now you know the tricks, I'm looking forward to seeing what birds you discover!

Buttons said...

Oh your instructor is very smart using her phone. Oh I am sure you are having a wonderful time and learning lots. I thought you already knew almost everything your photos amaze me. Hug B

DeniseinVA said...

Fantastic Gail, love the photos of the various birds. Such an interesting variety and so sharp and clear.

DeniseinVA said...

p.s. the flowers are gorgeous also :)

EG CameraGirl said...

I think learning the various songs of different birds is very hard! But it's such a good idea.

Anni said...

I would be thrilled to pieces if I spotted and photographed a towhee. I had one in my sighting last year at a park here in town, and a little, very young boy came running up to me to ask about my binoculars and camera and what I had found!!! Scared the bird away...figures, but the boy was cute so I forgave him. His mother was not so nice to him...poor fellow.

The Japanese Magnolia is stunning!!!

Happy Fat Tuesday...I think it's tomorrow, right?

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Wow, that is a nifty cell phone trick!

Stewart M said...

In what must be a first, I have seen all of the birds on your post! And I have seen them this week! I also saw my first Hermit Thrush this week!

As you can tell I am not at home!

Cheers - Stewart M - Scottsdale, AZ (and Melbourne!)

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

Seems cruel to me to scare the birds so as to get a photo opportunity.
I realized today I had seen a Louisiana Heron on one of my visits to my sister. I found the notation in my bird book. Do you know what a Louisiana Heron is? I don't have a clue. I think the LA state bird is the Brown Pelican.Dianne

Ann said...

i have never heard of a Towhee...beautiful bird!
love your photos so much!!!!

Rosemary Aubut said...

Great images Gail!!! What wonderful adventures! Keep birding!

Beth @ E. Lizard Breath Speaks said...

gorgeous wildflowers. i love the towhee! i have never heard of that kind of bird. need to learn a bit about it. going to google. ( :

Renae of Simple Sequins said...

Oh that all sounds fun for you and glad you are excited for the field trip. These photos are wonderful, especially the Japanese magnolia. Perfect shade of purple. wow.

Thanks for your well wishes and for your analysis of yellow. I do pretty well in warm yellow but cool yellow, not so much. It is fun to hear ways that I inspire. Thanks so much my dear, Gail. Thanks! ♥

Brian King said...

Glad you had a good time! These are great! I especially like the last photo! Nice color and DOF!

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Beautiful pictures. Spending time with a professional birder is so very helpful.

ladyfi said...

Oh how lovely - especially the flowers!

Spare Parts and Pics said...

Wow, love that wildflower shot!! And bird sounds on your smart phone??! Yikes, what will they think of next?

Irma said...

Beautiful photos Gail.
Those species of birds are not in the Netherlands.
Your flowers are absolutely amazing.

eileeninmd said...

Gail, sounds like you had a great field trip! The bird shots are wonderful. I love the cute Grebe. Have a happy day!

Gordon said...

What a good day you had, and some nice pics, I particularly like the Grebe.
All the best Gordon.

Wally Jones said...

Looks like you're having a good time with your class!

Wonderful photographs, Gail!

But - a birder who doesn't like to get up early?? Heavens To Betsy! That just won't do!

:)

LC said...

Sounds like a fabulous time. Bravo for going for the course, early morning and all. Best not to wait to do something "someday."

I am glad my dear hubby pushed and led the way in adventures early on. As he whispered to me in the hospital after my stroke, "I don't want you to worry. We will still have adventures.They may just be different adventures." And we have. I enjoy your adventures through lens and words!

June Caedmon said...

Looks like a fabulous weekend! Even if you did have to get up early! (I'm not a morning person either, Gail!) Looking forward to your next adventure! Have a blessed week!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Great birds and tips. I'm surprised you get as many great birds as you always do without getting up early..I always thought mornings were best for birding. (I can never get out early, so always used that as an excuse.,)

Barbara said...

How fun! I'd love to learn more about birds one day like this. That field of wildflowers is beautiful!