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Re: [CALBIRDS] Trip Report - Grizzly Island WMA, Mar 3'05

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  • Lidia Seebeck
    Just to make a few observations, from the point of view of a relatively amateur birder, although I ve been birding for most of my life on a hobby level. I ve
    Message 1 of 8 , Mar 4, 2005
      Just to make a few observations, from the point of view of a relatively
      amateur birder, although I've been birding for most of my life on a hobby
      level. I've also managed to get my husband into the fray and he is decidedly
      amateur.

      I should also mention that I also have a distinct "handicap"-- my son is not
      quite two, and very active. Fortunately he also loves nature and the sounds
      birds make.

      I think we all can agree that the weather has been something quite unusual
      these past few months. We've had numerous reports here in Southern
      California of irruption birds such as Pine Siskin at low elevations. Some
      things are normal, some are not. My husband saw an Osprey in Anaheim (local
      birders know what I refer to, and yes, I double checked his observation)
      which looked to be in relatively bad shape. I suspect that all the extra
      rain has been affecting the food supplies of some birds.

      That said, I would not be surprised if some migrations are occurring a
      couple of weeks earlier or later than usual. Not much more than that, of
      course, but a couple of weeks leeway in these truly unusual years might be
      justified for some species.

      I suppose this could also affect some of the ratios of some of the birds.
      However, (nothing personal here) some of those observations probably could
      use a second or third look. We're having an unusual year, but not
      catastrophically so. And I've been seeing plenty of Amer. Wigeons... that is
      one ratio that even I saw something odd about.

      That said....

      This list is a large one... but not everyone here is at advanced levels. We
      have Kimball (et al) here, and we have relative amateurs as well. If indeed
      we want to restrict this list to the truly extraordinary sightings such as
      Puffins or Iceland Gulls, then we probably want to look at creating a sister
      list where amateurs can chat about our sightings. For me, seeing an Osprey
      is still a bit exciting. It may not be for others. Then again, for five
      years seeing Scaled Quail was routine for me. I think we can all agree that
      the world of ornithology is well served by new amateurs who gain knowledge
      and proficiency. However, we cannot gain that proficiency by osmosis! Books
      help, but so does listening to other birders describe the trends and
      patterns. When the more experienced birders are willing to help and to
      listen well, it helps us to gain confidence. I was at Bolsa Chica one day
      last year on one of my first field walks out here in California, and came
      across two wonderful ladies who helped me sort out a bunch of shorebirds
      that I was not familiar with (being an inland birder has disadvantages). I
      forget your names, but I have not forgotten your patience and kindness.

      I'm willing to lurk and learn, to a large extent, but I also like to share
      what I know. Let's not forget that we were all amateurs once, and we all
      acquired knowledge of ornithology through time.

      Lidia Seebeck
      lidia@...
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Peter Sullins" <TheSullinsFamily@...>
      To: "'Joseph Morlan'" <jmorlan@...>; "'Jenny Vickers'"
      <winter.wren@...>
      Cc: "'Guy McCaskie'" <guymcc@...>; <calbirds@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Friday, March 04, 2005 5:09 PM
      Subject: RE: [CALBIRDS] Trip Report - Grizzly Island WMA, Mar 3'05


      >
      >
      > Folks....
      >
      > First, I am not in the least offended or upset at all... As Joseph
      > points out, making mistakes and being corrected is very important... I
      > learn
      > from all my mistakes, as I'm sure we all do...
      >
      > Yes, I am from Washington, in Calif on business and (fortunately) able
      > to squeeze in one quick day of birding an area I've only heard abt and
      > never
      > (until yesterday) seen or visited. No I am not familiar with distribution
      > and when the critters arrive down here. So knowing some of the birds I
      > reported were "early" is very good information to have, and would have
      > given
      > me greater pause yesterday. One thing I do want to make you aware of is
      > that
      > I am a handicapped birder (wheelchair) ... Meaning I bird entirely from my
      > vehicle. So if I can't see the pond, or the birds don't show themselves
      > even
      > a little on the roads, then I flat don't see them. So all those American
      > Wigeons were probably behind some island or clump of cattails and unseen.
      > I
      > have no way of "getting position" on the location if you take my meaning.
      > Plus, I was pressed for time and it may be years before I get back to
      > Grizzly Island.
      >
      > I am aware the ratio of different species of birds should fall into
      > rough patterns (generally speaking and of course depending on species).
      > For
      > example, I know if you see a Black-necked Stilt, you should be able to
      > find
      > an American Avocet around somewhere. At least that's what happens in
      > Washington. However today, at Skaggs Island off CA37, I counted around 400
      > Avocets with not a Stilt in sight. And tonight, just outside Fairfield
      > where
      > I'm staying, just the reverse.
      >
      > I am also of the opinion there are odd things happening in bird-dom
      > these days. Before I left home a week ago, which would have been the end
      > of
      > February, we were already getting Hummers, an invasion of Robins, and the
      > Sandhills were already being reported in Central Washington. All pretty
      > early. At least earlier than I can remember. I mean Hummers in Blaine, WA
      > (up on Canadian border) was quite a surprise. So, while I certainly do not
      > disagree with Guy on the timing of the Warblers and Flycatchers, recent
      > experience tells me it's possible.
      >
      > Finally, I have a definite process to reporting what for me are
      > Lifers -
      > as the Warbler, Yellowthroat, Dusky, & Lark Sparrow were. After coming to
      > a
      > preliminary ID in the field, with my trusty Audubon Field Guide, 3rd ed.,
      > before recording it as a sighting, I check against my Guide to North
      > American Birds and on the CLO Guide to Birds of North American v3 on my
      > computer, plus the rest of my library, Northern Prairie etc if I still
      > have
      > questions. When I'm on the road as now, its Audubon Field Guide, my
      > Sibley,
      > and CLO on the computer. I don't report if I don't believe. I don't report
      > "heard but not seen", "probables", "flew by quicklies" etc. I have to
      > really
      > see it to put it down on paper and report same. No maybes or should be's.
      >
      > So again, no offense taken at all... Glad to hear from everyone,
      > especially Guy... I share Joseph's comments concerning Guy McKaskie. All
      > should read the most recent issue I think from CLO concerning California
      > Birding and how it came to have its current status.
      >
      > Good birding to all...
      >
      > Peter Sullins
      > The Sullins Family
      > In The Village of Silver Firs
      > Everett, WA
      > TheSullinsFamily@...
      >
      > "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary
      > safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
      > Benjamin Franklin
      >
      >
      >
      > _____
      >
      > From: Joseph Morlan [mailto:jmorlan@...]
      > Sent: Friday, March 04, 2005 4:26 PM
      > To: Jenny Vickers
      > Cc: TheSullinsFamily@...; Guy McCaskie; calbirds@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: Re: [CALBIRDS] Trip Report - Grizzly Island WMA, Mar 3'05
      >
      >
      > Jenny,
      >
      > There are many people on this mailing list of differing experience and
      > ability. Guy correctly pointed out that the list of birds reported by
      > Peter contained many questionable identifications. I don't know how much
      > experience Peter may have. He may have much experience elsewhere, but be
      > unfamiliar with the status and distribution of birds in California (his
      > signature indicates he lives in Washington State).
      >
      > In any event, I think Guy provided an important service to others in
      > questioning a number of the species reported that are very unlikely to be
      > seen there at this time of year. I think Guy's corrections are very
      > helpful information for anybody reading this list who may be unfamiliar
      > with the status and distribution of birds at Grizzly Island or California.
      >
      > One of the purposes of this list is to share sightings, but another is to
      > educate. I learn from the sightings of others what I may expect to see on
      > my next trip. And if I report a bird that is unlikely or mistaken I WANT
      > people to correct my mistakes. We all make mistakes. The important thing
      > is to try to improve and to learn from our mistakes.
      >
      > In my experience, Guy is one of the most knowledgeable and helpful birders
      > in California. He has done more for field ornithology in the state than
      > anybody and I thank him for taking the time to educate us and help us
      > improve.
      >
      > If Peter was offended (and he hasn't said he was) by the corrections Guy
      > offered, I don't think he should be. Instead, he should chalk it up to a
      > useful learning experience and perhaps work to improve his identification
      > skills.
      >
      > On Fri, 4 Mar 2005 17:06:20 -0000, "Jenny Vickers"
      > <winter.wren@...>
      > wrote:
      >
      >
      >>Guy
      >>
      >>If Peter is a man just starting out in birding, then your reply might
      > surely
      >>put him off for life, at the least in terms of sharing his enjoyment of
      >>birding on this listserve. Instead of just listing in a somewhat terse
      > way,
      >>the birds you feel he may or may not have mis-identified, it might have
      > been
      >>more encouraging and sensitive for you to firstly have replied to him
      >>personally, and secondly to have given him suggestions of other similar
      >>birds that he more likely might have seen.
      >>
      >>sincerely
      >>Jenny Vickers
      >>Somerset
      >>UK
      >>
      >>
      >>----- Original Message -----
      >>From: "Guy McCaskie" <guymcc@...>
      >>To: <TheSullinsFamily@...>
      >>Cc: <calbirds@yahoogroups.com>
      >>Sent: Friday, March 04, 2005 1:52 PM
      >>Subject: Re: [CALBIRDS] Trip Report - Grizzly Island WMA, Mar 3'05
      >>
      >>
      >>>
      >>> Peter,
      >>>
      >>> I question your identity of some of the species you listed, and ask
      > myself
      >>> if you correctly identified any of the birds you reported.
      >>>
      >>> 19 Eurasian Wigeon and only 9 American Wigeon - a totally unrealistic
      >>> ratio
      >>> 2 Dusky Flycatchers - this species does not arrive in California until
      >>> mid-April, and even then is rare on the coast of central and northern
      >>> California.
      >>> 3 Ash-throated Flycatchers - this species does not arrive in California
      >>> until early April
      >>> 2 Nashville Warblers - this species does not arrive in California until
      >>> early April
      >>> 8 American Tree Sparrows - a very rarer to casual visitor to the San
      >>> Francisco Bay Area with no record of as many as eight
      >>> 7 Swamp Sparrows and only two Song Sparrows - another totally
      >>> unrealistic
      >>> ratio
      >>>
      >>> Guy McCaskie
      >>> 954 Grove Avenue
      >>> Imperial Beach, CA 91932
      >>> TEL 619-423-7524
      >>>
      >>>
      >>>
      >>> ----- Original Message -----
      >>> From: "Peter Sullins" <TheSullinsFamily@...>
      >>> To: "Conrad Jones" <CJones@...>; "CalBirds"
      >>> <CalBirds@yahoogroups.com>; "Gene Stone" <Gene_Stone@...>
      >>> Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2005 5:53 PM
      >>> Subject: [CALBIRDS] Trip Report - Grizzly Island WMA, Mar 3'05
      >>>
      >>>
      >>>>
      >>>>
      >>>> All...
      >>>>
      >>>> Spent the day birding Grizzly Island WMA near Fairfield/Suisun City,
      >>>> CA
      >>>>
      >>>> Low Temp: 45 Deg
      >>>> High Temp: 65 Deg
      >>>> Weather: Sunny with high haze; No wind or even breezes until very
      >>>> late in day
      >>>> Cloud Cover: ~75% of sky covered with clouds
      >>>> Started 8A & Finished 3:30P
      >>>>
      >>>> Birds Seen:
      >>>>
      >>>> 58 Golden-Crowned Sparrows
      >>>> 8 American Tree Sparrows
      >>>> 1 Common Yellowthroat
      >>>> ~300 Red-winged Blackbirds (Some puffed out showing their Red for
      >>>> everything they're worth!)
      >>>> 44 Western Meadowlarks (actually seen - Song heard everywhere)
      >>>> 34 Mallards (two-by-two)
      >>>> 9 American Wigeons
      >>>> 2 American Kestrels (Both female)
      >>>> 10 American Crows
      >>>> 33 White-crowned Sparrow (including one fellow bathing in a
      >>>> puddle!)
      >>>> 9 Lark Sparrows
      >>>> 38 Northern Pintails
      >>>> 9 Killdeer
      >>>> 3 House Finches
      >>>> 22 Black-necked Stilts
      >>>> 56 Northern Shovelers
      >>>> 99 Great Egrets, many showing long lacy brownish plumes
      >>>> 26 Northern Harriers
      >>>> 318 American Coots (give or take a bzillion or so)
      >>>> 1 Red-tailed Hawk
      >>>> 7 Swamp Sparrows
      >>>> 4 Snowy Egrets
      >>>> 19 Eurasian Wigeons
      >>>> 3 Pelagic Cormorants
      >>>> 43 American White Pelicans
      >>>> 16 American Avocets
      >>>> 10 Short-billed Dowitchers (coloring on front)
      >>>> 255 Dunlin
      >>>> 3 Black Phoebes
      >>>> 14 Purple Finches
      >>>> 2 Song Sparrows
      >>>> 1 Great Blue Heron
      >>>> 5 Chipping Sparrows
      >>>> 2 Nashville Warblers
      >>>> ~50 Northern Rough-winged Swallows (taking over the Hunters
      >>>> Station Bldg at Parking Area 1a)
      >>>> 1 Bufflehead
      >>>> 2 Dusky Flycatchers
      >>>> 11 Cinnamon Teal
      >>>> 13 Pied-bill Grebes
      >>>> 1 Savannah Sparrow
      >>>> 1 European Starling (working over a Brown-headed Cowbird)
      >>>> 1 Brown-headed Cowbird (trying to outrun one angry European
      >>>> Starling)
      >>>> 9 Double-crested Cormorants
      >>>> 3 Ash-throated Flycatchers
      >>>>
      >>>> Good day of birding. Breezes began picking up around 3P. All the
      >>>> ponds began to get little ripples on them then.
      >>>>
      >>>> Good birding to all....
      >>>>
      >>>>
      >>>> Peter Sullins
      >>>> The Sullins Family
      >>>> In The Village of Silver Firs
      >>>> Everett, WA
      >>>> TheSullinsFamily@...
      >>>>
      >>>> "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary
      >>>> safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
      >>>> Benjamin Franklin
      >>>>
      >>>>
      >>>>
      >>>>
      >>>>
      >>>>
      >>>>
      >>>>
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      >
      > --
      > Joseph Morlan, Pacifica, CA 94044 jmorlan (at) ccsf.org
      > Birding Classes in SF start Feb.8 http://fog.ccsf.edu/~jmorlan/
      > California Bird Records Committee http://www.wfo-cbrc.org/cbrc/
      >
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