Thursday, January 4, 2007

Top Ten Birding Moments in 2006

The BirdChaser suggested summarizing one's top ten birding moments of 2006. I shrugged aside my intimidation at his list because I think that this sort of reflection is quite useful. My list is less amazing than his but is quite reflective of my year with birds.

Counting backwards in Letterman style my Top 10 Birding Moments in 2006

10. All my yard birds. I maintained two feeder centers last winter and saw lots of new yard birds including: Hermit Thrush, Varied Thrush, Spotted Towhee, House Finch, Purple Finch, Pygmy Nuthatch, Hutton's Vireo, Black-headed Grosbeak, Lesser Goldfinch, and Rufous/Allen's Hummingbirds. This along with my usual suspects: Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Dark-eyed Juncos, California Towhees, and Anna's Hummingbirds.
9. California Thrasher -- I went for a lot of long walks in 2006 and on one of them I heard a marvelous singing (it was springtime) in the scrub on a hill above me. I stood and looked and looked and looked and finally found the bird. He was singing is heart out at the top of a bush very close to me. I noted the most telling thing about him -- his long curved bill and some other details and headed home to get my Sibley's out and ID him. California Thrasher. Very cool bird!
8. I went hunting for the Crested Caracara that had been seen near her (40 min away) at the coast. It was a ridiculous trip -- everything that could have impeded me without actually stopping me did so. Wrong turns, roads closed, etc., etc., etc. So, no, I did not find the Caracara but I did find and ID a Merlin which was pretty cool too.
7. A visit to Elkhorn Slough with the kids had me finding a Bewick's Wren, Short-billed Dowitchers, Belted Kingfisher, Barn Owl, and Anna's Hummingbirds -- as well as many, many birds that I didn't see well enough to ID him.
6. On another walk in my neighborhood, I heard an owl hooting and another owl answering him. I came home and listened to the sounds of owl calls and realized that it could only be a Great Horned Owl.
5. On our big camping trip, we went to New Melone's Reservoir. I saw a lot of beautiful birds including immature Bald Eagles and Great Blue Herons. The most exciting for me was the Pileated Woodpeckers. But, I only saw them from the boat, flying overhead. So, I still want to see some ON a tree somewhere.
4. On a trip to June Lake, in the Eastern Sierras at 7,000+ feet, we saw some wonderful birds -- White-breasted Nuthatches, Pygmy Nuthatches, Cassin's Finches, Lesser Goldfinches, and Mountain Chickadees. They are all backyard birds there but it was fun to see new ones for me.
3. I continued to fall in love with the Common Raven this year. There is a flock of 8-12 of them at my school and they are such amazing birds. I've yet to take a picture that I'm thrilled with but I cherish seeing them and having interactions with them on a nearly daily basis. We also got a pair of them in our neighborhood which was very exciting. And, one memorable summer evening, Greg and I sat out on our deck and watched two pairs fly over our house, going back and forth, cawing, and generally having a big todo. It was either a "glad to see you" party or a "get the heck out of my territory" party. Either way, we enjoyed it.
2. On the Thanksgiving Trip to June Lake, we went out boondocking in the middle of desolute nowhere and as we were leaving, having only seen a handful of Dark-eyed Juncos, we saw a flash of blue ahead of us. It stopped on a pine tree and showed itself to be a Mountain Bluebird. So lovely. It posed while my stepfather fumbled for his camera and got a shot -- lovely. The bird then chirped and flew off.
1. The Thanksgiving trip gave me my most memorable birding moment of the year. We were driving to Bodie and suddenly a big raptor wheeled up out of the sagebrush near the road and did a few aerobatic moves and then flew off. It was amazing. Greg saw it too as did the kids. Thankfully, Greg did see it as he was better able to judge it's wingspan. We saw enough field marks and the wingspan to know that it really was a BIG bird . . . Golden Eagle. Lifebird!

So that's my year in review. As a neophyte birder, I'm pretty happy with it.


Sworn_to_Secrecy said...

Hopefully I'm not bothering you or anything through my leaving a comment, but I found your journal interesting while I scammed through the ones following mine- so I wondered if you would like to be a "friend" of mine, just so that I can get some readers or something....Anyway- good work, hopefully you might find my journal just as interesting as I found yours.


birdchaser said...

Nice list, thanks for sharing! Here's wishing you many happy birding moments in 2007.

Susan Gets Native said...

That's a good year, for a neophyte or otherwise.

Mary said...

Very, very impressive! I can only dream of seeing a fourth of that in a year. I just learned I can walk the cart path on our golf course at any time. I'll just need to pay attention to both the balls *and* birds!

Liza Lee Miller said...

Thanks all. It was nice to review my year this way.

Mary -- you'll start wracking them up. A golf course is a good place to find birds -- the combination of woods/open is good for birds! We can't walk on our golf course except when the golfers aren't golfing -- which is pretty much before dawn and after dark! But I can take walks around the neighborhood and that helps.

Mary said...

You are right. I just learned I can't walk the course - only before or after play. Darn!

LauraHinNJ said...

Your list is pretty impressive to an easterner like me!