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Borrego Springs, CA

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Help with the bird survey, and a shock of sorts

So far I’ve done the weekly waterbird surveys on the refuge by myself.  Sometimes that’s a challenge as I have to write down the birds I’m counting as I’m looking through the scope.  I’ve got it down to a routine, but this week a fellow volunteer asked to come along and record for me.  I couldn’t pass up that offer!

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Meet Lynn, my partner in crime for the day.  I told her to pack a lunch, and we were off into the dreary skies and fog.  Of course the weather guessers had forecasted temps near 70 and sunshine, but that didn’t happen.  Since I’ll soon be gone for a week to Chicago, I wanted to do the count late in my work week, and then again the day after I get back for consistency. 

1200 snow geese (20% of the flock)

Duck and geese numbers were down today in my moist soil unit plots, but it was a banner day for egrets and dowitchers.  There was one big flock of snow geese as we traveled along, but of course they weren’t in one of my count areas.  My estimate is that there are about 1200 geese in this photo that I took with my telephoto lens and it was only about 20% of the flock.  I think you can click on the photo to get a closer view.  Seen from afar, it sure does look like a pile of snow out there.

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Occasionally a portion of the flock would take off as perhaps an eagle soared by or there may have been a coyote out there shaking things up.  That’s when you get the jaw dropping view and deafening sounds of thousands of geese taking flight. 

We stopped along the one lane gravel tract, lowered the truck tailgate, and hopped up to have our lunch surrounded by the marsh and all of its inhabitants.  I’m a slow eater to begin with, and considering everything to see and hear, and of course chat about, it took us a full hour to finish our sandwiches.  So much better than a restaurant or fast food place.  It’s one of the reasons I treasure volunteering.  I’m in my element.

At our last surveying location of the day, we finished the counting, and then Lynn noticed a coyote casually walking into the count area.  It was pretty far off, but with the scope and our binoculars we spent about fifteen minutes or more just watching what he was up to.  It was obvious that he was marking his territory in many locations.  Then, he stopped to chew on a snow goose wing that he found.  As he busied himself along the perimeter of the water, we just sat mesmerized by these National Geographic type moments.  It sure was nice to have someone along today who appreciates these wonders as I do.

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When I got home to the rig, I turned on the computer and there was a new post from Donna Cave about how she and Dennis had finally found some Whooping Cranes to see.  They’ve been on the lookout for them as they are spending time camped at a couple of state parks in the Aransas, TX, area, and I was thrilled that she saw some.  Donna is not a big birder by any means, but she enjoys all wildlife (except maybe alligators) and likes her encounters with birds.  In comments on her blog, I have affectionately referred to her as a budding junior bird nerd, or Grasshopper (remember that show?) in her endeavors to identify birds that she sees.  Well, I was in for a real shock as I read further.

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She returned to the same field later on her bike and reported that she saw a plethora of young whooping cranes!  Oh no!  While the first collage definitely shows whooping cranes, this collage is of sandhill cranes.  How could she have made that identification error?  (Sadly, I must admit that I have made numerous bird ID mistakes, but don’t tell anyone, okay?)  I was aghast!!!

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I certainly cannot compete with Donna in the eclectic beauty of her ensembles, but really folks, I’m not sure what to do about this astounding blunder.  I thought I taught her better!  I’m leaning toward calling her Stink Bug instead of Grasshopper.  What’s a person to do??  I await your input…Winking smile

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

25 comments:

  1. We all make mistakes, give her ten lashes with a wet noodle and call it good:)

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  2. Just knowing the names of some birds puts Donna way ahead of me. I do like her pants!

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  3. Oh poor Donna, I'll bet she's mortified. But I love her outfit! The amazing thing for today is that 1200 geese were only 20% of the flock. I'd have given just about anything to have been there with you two. Lucky lucky Lynn.

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  4. It is awesome to see those enormous flocks.

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  5. She dresses better than me:). I would think an native american style name might fit-say- Stink at Birds!

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  6. What an amazing day...the geese, the coyote, lunch with a view...it just doesn't get any better.

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  7. I'd say give her another chance.

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  8. THANK YOU , GREAT NICHIWAN...(I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THAT MEANS)...FROM NOW ON , I WILL CONSULT YOU ON ANY MYSTERY BIRDS I HAVE SEEN. I BOW TO YOU, AND ASK YOUR HUMBLE FORGIVENESS ...AND I WILL NOW TRY TO WORK MY WAY BACK UP FROM STINK BUG TO GRASSHOPPER AGAIN. IN OTHER WORDS...THANKS GIRLFRIEND..I LOVE YOU AND YOUR KNOWLEDGE....CAN I GET MY WHOOPER BADGE NOW???

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  9. Oh boy! LMAO! I'm sure glad you're having so much fun out there :)

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  10. Great post! As a very new and mistake prone bird watcher myself, I vote for giving her another chance.

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  11. Nice to see you enjoying the day over there :)

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  12. tell her to drink a couple of glasses of wine and say 5 hail birdies...

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  13. I would insist she come over to your Refuge and scribe for you on your next bird survey... be a Junior Ranger for a day.... take her under your wing (so to speak). If not, then Heyduke's suggestion is even better.

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  14. I read Donna's blog last night and thought those were sandhills but who am I to really know--I was just incredibly jealous she got to see whooping cranes and I've been to that dang refuge at least twice and never saw a one!!

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  15. How many demerits does she get for this disastrous blunder?

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  16. Great photos once again! Can't imagine how you're able to make such good estimates of those huge flocks! Experience helps.

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  17. You guys are having way too much fun without me. I think I should get right down there. Immediately.

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  18. When you see the sandhills and the Whoopers together- it is easier because the Whoopers are sooo much bigger. Sounds like you had a great day!

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  19. Beautiful birds, both kinds! I don't know about Donna, though. I like her jammie bottoms a lot, but can you really trust an RVer with painted toenails? :)

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  20. Don't be too hard on her. I'm lucky to be able to tell a bird from a turtle...despite your and Sherry's best efforts!

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  21. Humm. Wonder if Donna's teacher taught her the similar species to the Whooper Cranes. And I remember the only time I wasn't thrilled to see sandhill cranes. I was paddling Aransas NWR, hoping to see Whoopers and all I found was sandhill cranes.

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  22. Ah, what the heck, it's GRAND when you can see both whoopers and sandhills on the same day in the same field.

    I don't think I'd bike in those pants or flip flops, tho....

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  23. Ha! Bosque del Apache this week called Sandhills Whoopers on their facebook page - and corrected it after enough of us commented. So even the "experts" get confused. I think it's called "wishful thinking."

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  24. Nice post.Thanks for sharing this in your blog

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