Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lifetime List Additions

Birders are know for list keeping. They might have a back yard list, or a favorite birding site list, or a vacation list. All those lists added together make a Lifetime List. This list is zealously kept, since it gives bragging rights among other birders when you find that bird you have searched 10 years for. Of course, I can't get photos of every new bird. The Magnificent Frigatebird we saw was too high up for my camera to catch, but it was great to see how if differed from the usual Cormorants. The Clapper Rail called from the reeds, but would not come out of hiding for anything. The Gulf Coast has many different habitats for birds so many of our firsts are birds very unlikely to come to Kentucky. This Sedge Wren was in a thicket of reeds and brush. Nelson's Sharp Tailed Sparrow and the Seaside Sparrow quickly popped their heads up when the tour guide used his bird caller to lure them into taking a look. They disappeared into the marsh grass just as quickly, but we did see them so it counts. Warblers are always a challenge. The Bird Fest folks tried to level the field by pouring bird feed in one place they knew the warblers like to come to anyway. We added a Brown-headed Nuthatch, Tennessee Warbler, Yellow Throated Warbler, Black and White Warbler, and a Louisiana Warbler to the Life List. The banding station closed down due to lack of activity and a rapidly approaching storm front.
Our new coastal birds include Semi-Palmated Plover (a Killdeer-like bird with one throat band instead of two), Piping Plover, American Oystercatchers, Ruddy Turnstone, Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Dunlin (with a downcurved bill), Royal and Forster Terns, and Black Skimmer.
The Skimmers were preening on a sandbar, and I didn't get to see any of them actually skimming the surface. However, I was the successful bidder on a photo of just that at the silent auction. This was immediately after I told Dick I wouldn't bid on anyone else's photos - until I saw one that blew me away.
The final habitat was a long slough next to the bridge approach. We were headed for a spot on the Alabama Birding Trail formed by a hazardous waste site, believe it or not. We had to sign releases and fax them over first, then couldn't even find the entry point, unless it was up that road six inches deep in mud. We decided to pass and just see what we could find on our own. It was starting to rain again when we found the slough with White Ibis (mature and juvenile), a Glossy Ibis (looking black in the gloom), Black Necked Stilt, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpipers and a Dunlin. We were proud that we found these on our own, and used the overpass to stay out of the rain. The dry sand under the overpass also had some great animal tracks - a Bobcat, we think, several birds, and a lizard leaving a long tail mark in the sand.

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