Sunday, May 26, 2013

Biggest Week: Pearson Metropark and a ramble on Kenn's Coverts


I am going to start with a "ramble". The rest of the subject will be addressed shortly ...

This was our last day for attending The Biggest Week in American Birding. The trip was a bit rough for me this year, because of some stupid thing happening to my leg. Even with the steroid drugs I had been given by the doc, I learned that constant activity was only making the problem worse. The night before (yes, I pushed it too far ...), I was even concerned about safely making the 10 mile drive back to the hotel. Bad timing for my body to be acting up! Anyway, I decided then that I would not push it as far on the next day, and just head home for the two hour drive in the morning. It was a good decision - but, damn! - we even had to miss a main Kenn Kaufman workshop ("Principles and Pitfalls of Bird ID") for which we had registered.

On the other hand, Judy and I already had attended two of Kenn's workshops this week, and the first one - "Understanding what you see for better bird ID" - was based on his great book Field Guide to Advanced Birding - as also would be the one we missed. Watching his lecture then was a great revelation to me! It not only taught me about birds, but it also taught me about how I learn!!!

One quick example: Kenn talked about "coverts". These are important parts of birds. You see them in pics of birds, and the bird guide books and birders always talk about the colors and patterns of coverts. But it really made no sense to me (yes, it takes me awhile) until I heard Kenn pronounce the word. When I read "covert" in text, I always thought about "ops" as the next word. Yes, I guess I watch too many TV shows about spies and such. To me covert meant hidden or secretive. When Kenn was talking about coverts, he said COVERts - as in cover - and not the COvert thing - as in secretive - that I had in my mind. These cover and protect the bases of the flight feathers! And they are really visible. Revelation! Yes, I am sad I missed his next workshop - also based on this book - but I already have a new learning tool!

I was so excited last year when I won a copy of Kenn's book (...that he autographed to me! SO cool!!!) in a raffle at the Birding Ohio Facebook Meet and Greet during the Biggest Week!!! But, to tell the truth, reading something like "the bases of the greater coverts lie beneath the median coverts, and above these are multiple rows of lesser coverts" really was something to be passed over. And, these wonderful things are on both sides of the wings, so you get hierarchies of primary and under-wing coverts added to the description, and so on, so the terms get even more complicated. Whew! Yet, I understand now! All I really need to do is to read the words slowly as I look at the pics in his well-illustrated book.  It seems reading technical books is much harder for me to do now with my attention span decreased by age and my now-ingrained-by-media predisposition to immediate "sound bites"! It is almost amazing that I once assembled and read a massive personal library of scientific books and technical papers on seaweeds  - even when I had to buy them from antiquariaat shops in other countries! (My library and seaweed herbarium were donated to the Univ. of Washington when I entered aerospace in the early 1980's.)  Ah, those were the days!

Here (thinking about my ability to assimilate media), I drifted into thinking about Marshall McLuhan's discussion of "hot and cold media". And if you thought I "rambled", just check this review (click the highlighted URL) out!  I liked it, but it caused me to think my "rambles" are just the stuff of a beginner!   I quote one snap from McLuhan : "I tend to add and the whole thing gets out of hand."  That sort of says that someone besides myself "rambled". :)

Suffice - more on point to say - I can now read Kenn's great book with far more understanding! Great book!!! And yes, we made it home safely. It was a good decision!

I know someone is wondering: "Will Dr. Bob ever get to the subject?" OK, here it comes more about birding at Pearson MP.

We certainly did not want to leave Ohio without birding. Going back to Magee (and of course, walking and  standing and shooting pics for a few hours) and then attending Kenn's  workshop 1:00 pm would have put our departure time in mid-afternoon. I just knew the drive home would be potentially dangerous. Fortunately, we had learned of a new place during Biggest Week registration. Pearson Metro Park in Oregon, Ohio was literally down the street (like two blocks) from the Holiday Inn Express where we were staying at birder's rates. (Thank you, Holiday Inn for great hospitality and for supporting birders! We will be back many times!).

After taking pics of the "Welcome Birder's" signs along the streets of Oregon, we went to Pearson.

Lovely wife and birding companion Judy wearing her Biggest Week shirt
Pearson is a lovely Metro Park! On the drive in we saw lots of parking areas and trails to explore. Passing on these, we headed for the Nature Center. When we arrived there, we saw two BSBO vans in the parking lot. This must be the place! We did not know that Pearson was on the Biggest Week guided field trip schedule, but it sure makes sense now.

We saw one field trip returning to their van.We approached, but they were mostly done. As everyone boarded the van, one woman remained. I think maybe she had just "tagged along" as we sometimes do (Hey, it is usually OK to join a bunch of birders any time ...), and she had her own vehicle in the lot. It turns out that Mary Bennett's RV had a new license plate for our trip - Alaska!!!. Certainly the farthest traveled from the continental USA! (See my other blog about all the state plates we saw on our Ohio birding trip).  We had a delightful chat - such are birders! Mary is retired and actually lives full-time in her RV. This encounter immediately reminded us of Dawn Fine and her husband who also do this. I wrote down a Google search for "Dawn's Bloggy Blog" and gave it to her, along with the Google search for "Dr. Bob's Birds". I hope she reads our blogs and contacts Dawn and us! Mary relayed wonderful stories about being part of a group called RV Volunteers as she described her experiences and where she was headed and where she had been. Mary experiences birds and nature everywhere! Really sounded not only like fun, but what a great way to "give back" by volunteering at way-points!
Mary's Home on the Road all the way from Alaska at the Biggest Week
That would have been enough reason for our visit - some things are just made to happen! Then we walked the short distance to the Nature Center. The rest rooms were open. Good start!  That is always a concern now.

(More Ramble!) As an aside in writing this, and having mentioned rest rooms, I now am thinking about the fact that when John Steinbeck (also traveling the country in an RV) wrote his book "Travels With Charlie", I was really quite disenthralled! John (older then) left the impression on me that he had "sold out". The book had none of the qualities of "Cannery Row" and "Sweet Thursday" (or the lesser known Log from the Sea of Cortez) about Steinbeck's days as a partner and friend to the marine biologist  "Doc"  (a real person - Ed Ricketts of Monterey, California  - upon whom I had patterned my life) and had none of the angst of his other books like "The Pearl" or "Grapes of Wrath".  I mostly remember the book recorded John constantly stopping to let Charlie pee on things at special places. What happens to our angst and fervor as we age...?

Maybe I should read the book again now! Older now, I now seem to look for "comfort stations" myself. And, maybe, if I read the book again (should my diminished abilities to read a book because of the afore-mentioned conditioning allow me to do so...), just maybe I will learn that the doggie discharge stops were actually written (as opposed to photographic) "snapshots" and introductions to wonderful sites around the USA. I wonder.

Hey, I wonder how many of y'all are still reading this now? I suspect I am not alone in my struggle with the written word and our pre-conditioning by current media demanding more immediate satisfaction than a "ramble" might yield!!! Y'all deserve a prize! (Thanks for being here!)

OK, here it comes - back to subject!

So, after a pit stop, we approached the Nature Center. It was closed. But, the Window on Wildlife was open! Judy and I were amazed that such a place existed! What beauty! Fruit trees were in bloom and the feeders were active. We sat there by ourselves for quite a long time.

There was a huge expanse of windows, a length-wise shelf along  them, and lots of chairs.  There were "bleacher seats" in the back for class trips. We could just sit there and observe the feeder activity forever!
In the area where we sat, there was a long poster with photos and names of expected birds. We managed to see almost all of them in our short visit!

Window on Wildlife view - what a pleasant scene!

"Dr. Bob" at the poster of bird ID pics shares his view
Lovely wife Judy displays her Biggest Week shirt
and four years of annual pins from Friends of Magee Marsh on her hat!

We also saw many more birds!

Red-bellied Woodpecker in a fruit tree. Look closely to see a Downy WP behind.
Tufted Titmouse tree topper - I love the haunting mystery of this!
White-crowned Sparrow - my best shot ever of this species!
Eastern Phoebe - again my best ever shot!
We  missed the Indigo Bunting reported by others, but managed many decent pics.

Amazing time that coincided with the flowering of fruit trees! Amazing place!

As we were about to leave, a group of seniors in wheel chairs were brought in by their care-takers. It turned out they were from basically across the street at Little Sisters of the Poor. Their caretaker called the home "Little Sisters of Mercy", but I looked up the proper name: Little Sisters of the Poor. Indeed, either name is very appropriate!

(Look out - more ramble!) "Sisters of Mercy" stuck with me and reminded me of a Leonard Cohen Song from long ago.  Here is a link to his song.  Great video of an older Cohen singing a song that always resonated with me. I am not sure I ever tried to figure out the meaning, but it "resonated" in the true sense - maybe the pitch in my own vocal range? In any case it always resonated.

I now suspect the song had something to do with "Ladies of the Night", but I offer it here to also suggest the comfort one might feel from being away from Nature for a long time and then "coming home" to experience it again. Indeed, I suspect the latter is even more fulfilling and lasts far longer in our memories!  And it is not gender specific.

I offer a few lyrics to help try understand what the lovely folks we encountered might have been experiencing. It has nothing to do with other possible implications of the song, but rather with reflections on lives past. It seems fitting. And, indeed, we experienced the fact that the Sisters of Mercy brought these folks to the "Windows" was so tremendously important to them!

"Oh the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone. 
They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can't go on. 
And they brought me their comfort and later they brought me this song. 
Oh I hope you run into them, you who've been travelling so long.

They touched both my eyes and I touched the dew on their hem. 
If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn 
they will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem. 

When I left they were sleeping, I hope you run into them soon. 
Don't turn on the lights, you can read their address by the moon.
And you won't make me jealous if I hear that they sweetened your night ..."

And, I know for many of us if we ever had been deprived by life events of opportunities to experience birds and Nature, a visit to any place to reconnect would be priceless!  This was the first time the home had made a field trip there. After this trip they will return often! It is a quick and easy and accessible way to allow their residents to "get out" and experience Nature and memories!

Aside: It was interesting the the line about "reading their address by the moon" struck another chord for me this year. As I get more birding contacts, this year has been really fascinating for me. I have seen some great photos of flying birds highlighted by a full moon in the background. And, almost daily I was receiving posts about bird migration as recorded on weather radar. Members of the the Nemesis Bird Team were official bloggers for the Biggest Week, and one member, Drew Weber, was regularly posting migration radar maps during the spring. Here is one example. This is really mind-boggling! Just imagine so many birds flying at night during migration that they constitute a large part of satellite imagery!!!

We had was SO much fun watching the home folks exclaiming about seeing common brightly-colored local birds like a Cardinal, Goldfinch or a Blue Jay!  Indeed the comfort this visit offered was very obvious!  I am sure their field trip and joy really sweetened their nights with favorable memories!!! We stuck around longer and pointed out other birds (Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, and so many more ...) as they arrived. The birds were very cooperative! And, the folks from the home really sweetened OUR day ... and many nights of our personal memories to come! I only hope we sweetened theirs! I purposely keep our memories private in our own minds and did not take pics...

No, this experience was not a scheduled part of the Biggest Week, but it is a great illustration of what you might encounter during the week. We did not get too many birdy pics in our curtailed visit this year, but we again have incredible memories and snapshots of "Life"!!!

We left fully recharged again! Life is good! Life as a birder makes it even better! And, sharing our love - priceless! We cannot wait to return to Pearson Metropark next year during the Biggest Week!!! Indeed  Magee Marsh, Ottawa NWR, and Metzger Marsh are great places where we always go, yet there are so many more places to explore in the area!!! We learned of Pearson MP and many others (all with maps) at the registration desk for The Biggest Week.

Every year we add more days and places to our stay in Ohio!

(This year was  very special because I was accepted as an official blogger! I am honored indeed!)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Biggest Week: Woodcock Babies - hours old!

"Where in the woods would Woody Woodcock cockily walk while Woody's woodcock wife Wanda watches woodcock kids on the sand spit?" (Say that fast 3 times without pausing ...)

Did you do it? OK, well maybe it wasn't the best tongue twister, but this blog illustrates one of our finest memories from the Biggest Week In American Birding.

I was a bit "down" this year in Ohio. Somehow I had screwed up my leg while early birding in Michigan. It's complicated, but suffice to say that even the steroids the doc had given me a few days before were not helping too much. But, I persevered and had a great time as usual. Hey, birding is like that! Anyway, after a few hours on the Magee Marsh boardwalk my leg was killing me. All I wanted to do was just make it to the car. Judy's pedometer later showed we had walked about 3 miles. Geez! It is just a short walk from the car  - and the boardwalk is not that long - how did the miles add up? But with people seeing great birds, it was back and forth. Interesting . No rest for a birder I guess... :) Great fun!

Anyway, as we were heading to the car, we encountered a new friend that we met the night before at the Birding Ohio Meet and Greet - Donna Simonetti. Donna asked us if we had seen the woodcock babies. "What? No, we have not!"  So she took us across the parking lot to the sand spit on the Lake Erie side of the lot where we found several people gathered around something on the ground. Yellow tape had been placed by wildlife agents around two spots to protect the woodcocks. There was a small plot with tape protecting the shells of recently hatched eggs, and a larger plot around Momma Woodcock and her newly-hatched chicks. When I say, newly hatched, I really mean it - they were only a few hours old!!! Enroute, Donna told us a great story about her experience with this family! She told it SO well! It really set the stage for what we were to see. After she returned home, Donna posted  a fantastic video of Momma and 4 chicks. Besides showing the cute kids, it is fascinating to see how Momma walks!

Prior to this time, Judy and I had actually only seen Woodcocks a couple of times - both times at the Magee boardwalk during the Biggest Week. We had experienced the flight and songs of woodcocks locally a during spring a couple of times, but the silly things only come out when it is too dark to really see them or to take pics, so what you really get are fleeting flighting fantasies of fuzzy buzzy birds. (People always call their flight songs as "peent", but I would call it "bzeent" - it is more a buzzing thing.)

So, here is what we saw at Magee:

Ever see a woodcock egg? These are from the newly hatched chicks. Wildlife folks had the area roped off so no one would step on them. SO cool!!! Woodcock egg shells!!! That was certainly a first!

Shells from newly hatched woodcock chicks.
In the next roped off area, we saw Momma woodcock (here I call her "Wanda"). Even with birders pointing her out, it took us awhile to see her. She is "hunkered down" with her kids underneath. Here are a few views. Any one of these pics far exceeds what we had seen before!  A big-eyed, long-billed spectacular wonder of avian evolution! Woodcocks are so well camouflaged, it is hard to see them even when you know the area in which to look! Obviously these pics are zoomed and cropped.

As we watched and photographed, one new chick emerged from under her. From personal observations and stories of others, we learned this is the "problem kid". The other three kids in the bunch are quite content just being under Momma's folds.

"Where do you think you are going?" Momma said while pushing down with her bill.
(You can see where Momma was pushing his down down ...)

"I just wanna see what is there!" (You can see the impression left by her bill. She tried ...)
Well, he wandered to the other side of Momma, and then just backed up. Momma was stoic the whole time (Mothers are like that ...). She knew a warm down blanket is better than sticks and stones any day. But some kids just have to learn on their own.

"OK! I am back! Just tuck me in!"
You can see from the bitty baby  breast bump he is home! Safe and warm!
That could have ended our woodcock saga right then, but after resting my leg, Judy and I again hit the boardwalk. And, afterwards we went back to see if the woodcocks were still in the same place. No! I suspect the attention had caused Momma to try to seek a place that felt more secure. I heard some stories that upset me about over-zealous people approaching the birds too closely, but thankfully we did not experience this.

My saga continues. The same family was still in the same general area! On this - our second visit to the same family a few hours later - Momma had chosen a new site in the grass.

Momma in the grass waits for the "problem kid" to arrive.
It seems everyone had made it - there were four kids in total - except for "Woody, Jr"! I think in his explorations he had missed the message about changing homes. Now he seems worried! He is about twenty feet away - miles away in longer-legged human terms!

"Momma! Where are you?"
"Oh heck! Here I am -no bigger than a leaf - lost forever!"
"Momma! Is that you? I am coming!"
Here is a pic of the lost kid. Can you see him?
Same pic - enlarged. Now you see his widdle-bitty Woody, Jr. birdie wings trying to help him navigate over obstacles. 
OK, stop right now and go back to the pic before the last! Can you see Woody, Jr.? These birds have wonderful camo! It is only thru binoculars or digital photography and amazing luck (!) that we can ever see them!!!

Another pic of dinky wings of a hours-old woodcock. Heck, you cannot fit everything in ashell!

Well Momma was waiting just like before. Can you see her?

Momma waits for Woody, Jr. - the "problem kid"
Momma is always watching! And somehow - I have no idea how! - she is broadcasting her location  and Woody, Jr. hears it.  All the while she hears his plaintive cries.

"I am here! Please come home!" 
Yes, indeed, this ramble has been quite anthropomorphic! But, it is the blogger in me writing this, and not the scientist! And, I think it makes it more fun. But really many questions remain as the scientist kicks in.

I know of at least three separate incidents of woodcock Mommas and chicks on that sand spit this week! Two separate ones on the same day, and another on Wednesday, two days later. Possibly more.

Why would the woodcocks choose to go onto the sand spit away from the forest in which they live to lay and hatch eggs???  Better warmth from the sand? Escape from chick predators? Escape from moisture on the floor of the marsh?

Were the birds on a nest on the sand spit all along and no one saw them, or did they just lay when the eggs were about to hatch ("drop and run")? Weird! Like, how long do woodcocks sit on their eggs? With all the pros (birders and wildlife officials) around the area then, how could they be overlooked? Any info appreciated!

I think they all returned to the forest by the boardwalk within the same day the eggs hatched. So, what is their story??? I am sure someone in the area has asked these same questions before  so please share possibilities with me! It is driving me even crazier!

And, has anyone recorded vocalizations between Momma woodcock and kids? I know for sure that with the distance and obstacles in the way, they could not have ever seen each other! How did Woody Jr. find Momma? I know that mammals (from my sea lion care-taking days and human experiences) are exactly tuned to very specific "parent/kid frequencies" and can distinguish personal sounds amid any clutter!

Oh, always so many questions! But, I'll close now.

Fascinating! A "lifer experience"!!! You never know what will provide lasting memories (as I say it - what will "flap your wings") when you go to the Biggest Week in American Birding!!!

- "Dr. Bob"

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Playing States and Plates at the Biggest Week in American Birding

Let's play "States and Plates" for the birds!

This is a fun game for kids! And anyone who birds will know it is also a great - and much easier - game for adults as well! It is sure much easier to spot and record license plates than trying to spot warblers flitting in trees or lurking in the underbrush on the forest floor! And, if you choose to take pics, your chances are much better that the object of your photograph will still be there when the shutter fires! :)

Judy and I started going to the Biggest Week in American Birding (BWAB)  in 2010. It was our first birding trip to Ohio, and I think coincidentally, the first official "Biggest Week". We had no idea there even was a Biggest Week thing for birding. We just knew as newbie birders (we started birding in 2009) that everyone had told us to go to Magee Marsh to see birds. We did so. I think we just made it a day trip - plus maybe one more. For us it is only about two hours each way. Then we went back and stayed overnight. Now each year, it seems we add more overnight stays for the spring migration in northwest Ohio. Yes, indeed, the birds do bring our money into the local economy! By now everyone we met in Ohio knew why we were there and welcomed us! And, yes we met some local people who had never birded their local spots, but now (yes, we answered their many questions ...), they all want to check it out just to see what "the flap" is about!! Gotta be something about birding to bring folks from across the world there, right?  Kimberley Kaufman and Black Swamp Bird Observatory have done an incredible job of getting the local business community into appreciating birds and their conservation! We love it! This place and season are SO special!

And we are not alone in our quest for birds! People come from everywhere! It was so fascinating seeing all of the out-of-state license plates in the parking lots on our first visit, we started recording them every year.

I remember that over five decades ago - as a kid on trips with my parents - long before birding - I was recording license plates. It kept me amused, and may have a been a start to my "listing"! We never really went too many places, but we lived in California, and the world came to us. I know I had at least a mental "life list" of plates, and still remember my best plates were from Hawaii and Guam and Washington, D.C. - in addition to a few foreign countries! I challenge anyone to now get plates on cars that were bought in from some place where driving to the mainland USA is impossible! I have not seen any for years. Yes, economies change, and the world is now a global marketplace, and it is probably possible and cheaper now to buy a car here in the USA than to import a special car from wherever someone was stationed on assignment.  But, it happened then. Hey! Maybe I would have had the record - had I just kept my "field notes"? ... :)  Geez! I wonder if there is an e-Plate like e-Bird! ;)   OK, just "rambling" ... but maybe I would be in the top ten!

Back to story. We recorded 29 states, two Canadian provinces, and a US government plate in just 3 days. It was first most special to think we had all four corners of the main US covered - California to Washington, Florida to Maine   Then on our last day, we picked up Alaska!!! Cool!

States        Provinces    Other
Alabama     Ontario         US Government
Alaska        Quebec
New Jersey
New York
North Carolina

West Virginia

Here is a fun thing from the BWAB registration area at the conference center. I think it shows only the "home nests" (cute term!) of people who registered. I took a cell phone pic of this map (I thought it was SO cool!) when we registered on Sunday, May 5. I just found another map on the BWAB Facebook page (hey, just search on FB and "like" The Biggest Week) taken on May 9. Geez!!! What a national and international event!!! Yes, we sure missed a lot of plates! But many people flew in ...
Nest map taken from  FB - 5/9/2013
Map of  home "nests"
at BW registration on Sunday 5/5/2013

Our personal list of plates does not count the many wonderful people who flew in, including our two new friends of New Mexico women (Linda Rockwell (a blogger like me)and Donna Simmonetti) and a real "migrant" Gunnar Engblom (Peru) who we so much enjoyed meeting at the Birding Ohio Facebook Meet and Greet! It also does not count so many helpful people we met on the boardwalk speaking with such lovely accents, dialects, and languages! Yet, everyone "spoke bird"!

BTW, I recently put up my first-ever You Tube videos of Gunnar singing two original birding songs at the Meet and Greet. It is fun to think that a guy from Peru arranges to have a borrowed local guitar to sing a song. Cool songs - check them out!

And Linda and Donna brought home-made tamales and a whole New Mexico dinner to share with bloggers at the BWAB. So sorry I missed that one because we went home early. It is just SO amazing that people come from all over the USA and world, not only to share birds, but to share themselves! I cited two personal examples, but I really suspect it is the norm for the Biggest Week. The more we get to know each other, the more we understand and appreciate our birding bonds! 

Anyway - back to story - it is also so much fun to see the personalized plates and stickers that some birders put on their cars.  We remember we saw many more personal plates last year, but we did shoot a few this year.

Self explanatory - obviously a local

I like figuring out special messages ... don't tell Judy, I think she is still working on this one ...

Obviously the driver is what we in the Midwest call a "snow bird". Summers here, migrates to Florida for winter.

Not personalized, but I love this special plate from PA!
And I think I remember this one from last year. Not too many folks care about the endangered Vulfinch. So sad ...
Yes, I guess we are "listers". We record/list license plates. And for sure birds. And we also "list" birders. It has been fun this year learning that others besides us keep a "life list of birders". We know many  people from their exploits, publications, and postings and it is really exciting to meet them in person! We met several more "lifers"!

But it really does not matter what "floats your boat" - or, better here - what "flaps your wings". What really matters is that you have fun! I guarantee that a trip to NW Ohio for spring migration, and especially the Biggest Week, will keep memories flapping for you and your kids for a very long time!

And be sure to check out the plates! Fun for all !

-- "Dr. Bob"

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Whip-pool-will. A "bump on a log" lifer at Magee Marsh during the Biggest Week!!!

Whip-poor-will!!! Lifer!!!

I never expected I would ever see this bird! I am posting a pic that kind of shows what it looks like just sitting in a tree. To me, the back looks just like bark/lichen texture - perfect camouflage! If no one had pointed it out, we would have never seen it!!! This is a fantastic reason to go to the Biggest Week in American Birding (BWAB) in northwest Ohio! There are so many guides and just wonderful birding people who spot and share things you would never see otherwise!

Here is a pic - not very much enlarged from the 300 mm lens shot I took of this "bump on a log". How would we ever have seen that bird without knowing exactly where to look!!!. Judy and I tried for many minutes while people kept telling us where to look!  "It is right there!"  The bird was not moving. It was fairly far away. It was doing its "daytime thing" - just being a bump on a log! They are active at night, feeding on bugs.  They are in the same bird family with nighthawks and nightjars (oddly the common name of this family is Goatsuckers ... look it up ... interesting history).   Sure looked like a knot on the tree to me - it took forever to find it even when pointed out!!!

Bump on a log

Looks more like a bird ...
OK. I saw it and shot it. Tonight I "played with" another pic taken with my telephoto. I cropped and fixed a bit. (Thanks Jerry Jourdan for the hints you have given me over the years. I did not do all of your suggestions, but it sure made a difference!)

It now looks more birdy, but still a "bump"! Come on -that is a bird? Well, I guess I can see a tail ...

OK. Another pic - the bird got up and started a birdy thing like "picking". Now it looks even more like a bird!

Yes! A bird!

What a fantastic experience!!! All of  the previous shots were taken with my own T2i camera and non-image-stabilized 70-300 lens.Lifer! Judy and I saw it. We both shot it! Judy was using an SX30 Canon point and shoot. Super cool!!!

Of course, we would never have been able to even know the bird was there without a great Biggest Week supporter who I think actually spent the whole day at the spot just to share this experience! My applause, accolades, and great thanks to Clay Taylor of Swarovski Optics! I think he was there all day.And, I think Clay had spent the day before at another location on the boardwalk similarly sharing a special owl with BWAB visitors. This is just one of the many things that draws us to the Biggest Week. We well remember last year when "Bird Chick" Sharon was showing a new-for-us owl species (again, a lifer) thru her scope, and offering anyone to give her their cell phone to take a pic thru the scope. That was before I had a "smart phone", but I was pleased that she even tried with my very low resolution (1 mb) flip phone. Hey! It is just all about sharing and trying!

My smart phone pic thru a great scope
Clay let us look thru his scope at poor Will. So cool!!! Then I watched and learned as he taught someone how to take a cell phone pic thru the scope. This was great revelation! Do not start with the camera right near the scope (as I had tried to do many times), but get the camera first finding the "eye of the scope" and slowly moving in. It does take a bit of practice and a  steady hand (hard for me), but I managed to take a couple of my best ever "digiscoping" pics that way!!! Super! (I now realize that my old Nikon personal scope has a much smaller ocular, so I finally understand it is just not only me, but my equipment that is involved. Fascinating. What fun!!!

Then I watched as a guy with a "fancy" Canon camera asked Clay take a pic thru the scope using an adapter with a Canon mount.Cool - it fitted over the eyepiece.
Clay takes a pic for another guy
When he was done, I asked if the adapter would work with my T2i Canon. It did! Clay took several pics with my own camera. Here is the result. WOW! Great detail!

Clay explains to "Dr. Bob" what camera settings to use.
Now it is my camera on the scope attachment

My T2i camera pic on Swarovski mount
taken by Clay for me
You can see the bristles they use for bug-catching. What a difference! I want one!!!

Yes, my friend Jerry Jourdan, digiscoping really makes a huge difference! Especially with super optics! Yet, you have been SO helpful in allowing me to make the best of what I have, I am more than satisfied! With a little bit of patient teaching, we can all become better bird photographers!

I need to stick with what I have because of cost, but I sure treasure the fact that the Biggest Week allowed me to see possibilities! And I really appreciate Clay and the many other people we met on the Magee boardwalk to point out the birds we would have not seen otherwise!!! What a great time!

Lifer! Memories! Great folks! What more can anyone ask?!!!

- "Dr. Bob"