great people, great learning there; important to contribute 3 years ago
The McGill Bird Observatory.
I go out and help capture and band migrating birds. This allows me to learn the species, and it is productive, scientific work in support of the North American Birds of Migration Act. 4 years ago
So I’ve been reading and learning as I read, though I’m deficient at looking at the pictures online. I need to do this soon, and before I go on an outing with them. The thing holding me back from an outing is, as often, needing to get other stuff done on the weekend, which is a lame excuse. 4 years ago
For the second time, I joined the San Fernando Valley chapter of the Audubon Society for their monthly bird walk in the Sepulveda Basin this past Sunday. I was debating whether or not to go until 10 minutes before the walk was to start (I can delay till that late since I live like only half a mile away) because I had just gotten back from vacation the day before and was still tired from that and because I sort of wanted to do my own birding elsewhere. My motivation wasn’t really there, but I went anyway.
I’m thinking that if I want to get more involved with this group I should find out about their other activities or at least maybe join them when they do their bird walks in other areas. I felt a little bit bored this time. I think it’s because I already go birding at the Sepulveda Basin at least once per week on my own, and I’m already familiar with most of the birds there and where to find them. It’s not that I didn’t learn anything useful during this walk because I did, it’s just that the marginal returns weren’t as great as the last time I joined this group at this place.
I will say though that I was particularly proud when members of the group politely but firmly admonished passersby with dogs that they weren’t allowed and alerted others when they were in areas that were off-limits. I like that there’s a group of people willing to stand up and provide a voice for the protection of wildlife. I always see people bringing their dogs into the wilderness area when they’re not supposed to and people fishing where it isn’t allowed and people walking on paths that are closed. I feel powerless to stop any of that on my own (no one is going to pay attention to just me), and it saddens me that all this carelessness could ruin a viable, urban habitat for migratory birds.
These are some new things I learned during the walk which made it worthwhile and helped me to look past the boredom I experienced this time:
- Allen’s hummingbird swoops down and makes a broad U-shaped pattern when it swoops back up whereas Anna’s hummingbird swoops sharply down and makes a J-shaped pattern when it swoops back up.
- The Say’s phoebe is more graceful as it floats in the air to catch insects whereas the black phoebe is very jittery in its flight as it catches insects.
- Ravens have a sharp V-shaped tail that can be seen in flight whereas crows have a shofter, more rounded tail that can be seen in flight.
- Many of the species of migratory ducks that used to come to the Sepulveda Basin each winter aren’t coming around anymore. We don’t know why.
- After a fire, it’s better to leave the remnants (i.e. charred vegetation) to decay naturally than to clear them all away. This came up for discussion because after a small fire last summer in a section of the wildlife area the workers just cleared the sight bare. However, it was amazing to see that where old cottonwood trees had burned, many new ones are sprouting from the remnants of the old roots.
These are the 38 speices of birds that I saw (others in the group saw some I didn’t see, but I’m only counting the ones I saw myself including the ones in bold which I saw for the first time):
mallard, wood duck, American wigeon, American coot, pied-billed grebe, belted kingfisher, California gull, double-crested cormorant, great blue heron, great egret, snowy egret, green heron, black-crowned night-heron, ruby-crowned kinglet, blue-grey gnatcatcher, yellow-rumped warbler, common yellowthroat, white-crowned sparrow, song sparrow, California towhee, house finch, bushtit, American goldfinch, Anna’s hummingbird, Allen’s hummingbird, downy woodpecker, black phoebe, Say’s phoebe, red-tailed hawk, red-shouldered hawk, Cooper’s hawk, common raven, turkey vulture, peregrine falcon, killdeer, spotted sandpiper, long-billed dowitcher, American pipit4 years ago
This is a juvenile Cooper’s hawk, that was sitting on my back fence when I got up to make a coffee, and shortly thereafter hopped into the tree by the time I got my glasses and my camera. He remained there up until the time I left for work. They like to surprise their prey, which are dove-sized birds. My neighbours have a few that come around. I bet they are sufficiently warned away for a while. 5 years ago
This morning I went on a bird walk at the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve with the San Fernando Vallay chapter of the Audubon Society. This place is literally like two blocks from where I live and near where I go running all the time. I’ve gone birdwatching here myself many times, and many of the entries under my goal to photograph birds were taken during these trips. Since I started pursuing birdwatching more seriously as a hobby earlier this year, I was thinking I could benefit and learn more from others who are really into it. I did some research and read about the Audubon Society whose mission is to “conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds and other wildlife”. I was vaguely aware of the Audubon Society and knew they had something to do with birds but frankly didn’t know much about them. When I saw that there was a local chapter of the group that did walks in my area, I decided I needed to check them out (also with motivation from joining this goal which Jane invited me to).
I brought a hat (as it was a hot, sunny day) and a pair of binoculars (leaving my camera behind thinking I would learn more just observing rather than messing with pictures) and met about 15 people at the trailhead at about 8 AM. I will say that I was the youngest person by at least 10 years. I wonder if that’s because older people have more time to get involved in things like this or because younger people just aren’t interested. I hope it’s the former and not the latter reason. There were a couple of other first-timers like me but most of the people were seasoned birdwatchers. The leader of the group, a guy named Chris, pointed out some things to me that helped me in bird identification. The walk lasted about three hours, and it was really fun to see the passion people had for birdwatching.
We saw so many species of birds and so many that I had never seen before though I had been to this place many times. Among the species we saw included (I’m just listing the ones I hadn’t seen before): western bluebird, yellow-chevroned parakeet, hermit thrush, hooded merganser, greater yellowlegs, long-billed dowitcher, California thrasher, western tanager, Townsend’s warbler, ring-necked duck, ruddy duck, chipped sparrow, and a northern cardinal (an east coast bird introduced to the west about 100 years ago that is extremely rare in the west).
I haven’t actually joined the Audubon Society yet, but I’m definitely leaning towards it. I will definitely go on more of their walks they have in various places around my area. It seems like they have something going on almost every weekend. 5 years ago
While I was in DK, I got bit by the birdwatching bug. I don’t have any journal entries or pics, just started feeding the birds there and have kept it up since I came back. On the weekend, I went to a lecture on extinction, where a passenger pigeon in a glass case was donated to the museum. Such a sad story. In any case, that’s where I made the connection to this group, Bird Protection Quebec, and I will be joining them on their next expedition (which may just be a walk in the woods). I looked up the Montreal Field Naturalist’s Club but the next event they were having was a lecture on rocks. That struck me as kinda boring for me right now – though I am sure that if I went to it, I would find it interesting. But I am trying to keep focussed on animals, wildlife, and conservation for several reasons and topics, and not deviate or cast the net too wide in my pursuits. So this group that I’ve found is something I’m looking forward to experiencing! 5 years ago