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Filter’d Out #6 & 7 [Hatchings]

June 19, 2011

It’s like a Father’s Day extravaganza: two weeks worth of enlightening* blog posts! Of course, I’m making up for missing last week, so it’s not really anything above and beyond, just a few I missed but are still worth your time.
* Including but not limited to: entertaining, challenging, informative, inspiring, alarming, and/or that simply spoke to me.

For the weeks ending 11 and 18 June 2011 I’ve Filter’d Out:

Top Ten Birding Accessories
Jonathan Lethbridge, writing for The Crow Council
If you’re engaged in serious birding you’re going to need equipment. Jonathan highlights the most useful tools, each of which a must for (most) birding outings.

4) Dull, boring looking clothes. Essential for any birder. You should be dressed in mute shades of green or blue. Nothing else will do. You need to exude dullness. People should look at you and involuntarily yawn. If you are out birding and pass someone only to have them fall asleep a few yards later, you know you have got it right. On a serious note, just make sure whatever you have is suitable for the conditions, and not bright red. And whatever you do, don’t buy camo, it is totally unnecessary and makes you look like a twat.

Pieplow Made Me Do It
Ted Floyd, writing for The ABA Blog
Remember this post’s title, it’s a phrase that may become part of the new lexicon in birding circles. After reading Nathan Pieplow’s recent post on describing bird sounds, Ted puts the advice into practice.

A few evenings ago my kids and I were exploring Walden Ponds, a bucolic birding spot in Boulder County, Colorado. We were in the buggy back end of this sprawling complex of marshes and woodlots, listening to the sounds of early summer in the foothills of the Rockies: twittering Violet-green Swallows and chattering Bullock’s Orioles; harsh Western Wood-Pewees and a querulous Black-billed Magpie; and a dispirited Warbling Vireo.

How to Prepare for An Exotic Birding Tour: Study the Birds
Laura Kammermeier, writing for The ABA Blog
Traveling somewhere exotic, where the sights and sounds are unfamiliar, can be fairly nerve-wracking. Now imagine you’re headed there specifically to focus on the local birds, most (if not all) are new-to-you. Laura provides tips to prepare, both from her experience but also from a handful of well-traveled birders and guides.

While ‘normal’ people may fret over transportation and logistics, money or safety, or fear of forgetting something important, like underwear or toothpaste, I suspect that the prevailing anxiety among ABA members is the unwelcome fact that we’ll be unable to identify the hundreds of new bird species that will parade in front of us the next seven to fourteen days.

Few things get a birder’s goat more than being rendered impotent at bird identification.

AOU to leave Mexican Duck in limbo
David, writing for 10,000 Birds
A hallmark of excellent writing is when you find yourself caring about an issue you didn’t know you should care about. David has a knack of probing into and explaining classification dilemmas and what they mean with all-too-uncommon clarity.

When the American Ornithologists’ Union publishes its annual North American checklist update next month, many birders will be disappointed to see that a proposal to re-split Mexican Duck (Anas diazi) from Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) has failed. The Mexican Duck, as its name suggests, is native to Mexico and parts of the southwestern United States, and unlike the Mallard, the Mexican Duck does not have a showy male breeding plumage; both sexes are brown throughout the year. Once considered a separate species, the Mexican Duck was lumped with Mallard in 1983 after studies indicated a high degree of hybridization, and that is where it’s remained ever since.

What do you think? Do you prefer stability and certainty, or would you rather make changes to our lists early and often? And while we’re at it, what’s your experience with Mexican Ducks and Mallards in Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas?

What I’m Doing
Mike McDowell, writing for Mike’s Birding & Digiscoping Blog
Birding locally, thinking globally returns Mike to his “zen with nature,” something that we would all benefit from.

There’s a fable about a powerful king who assembles his sages and asks them to render an object that will make him happy when he is sad and sad when he is happy. They ultimately forge a ring for their king bearing the inscription “This too shall pass.” For me that object is a bird. When I visit a woods or prairie filled with birds I know I’m generally seeing them at their best, which is how I like to capture them with my photography. Before I was a serious birder, however, I had no idea how much trouble birds are in. As the naturalist matures, it’s a rather depressing moment when realizing all is not so well.

# 56 Field Tip: Study the Bird, Not the Book
Adrian Binns, writing for BIRDING with BINnS
The latest in Adrian’s series of tips for birders and bird watching, one that is bypassed all too often.

Out in the field, when you see a bird and you do not know what it is, it is tempting to immediately look in your field guide and try to identify it. Don’t do this! Instead, study the bird in your binoculars or scope for as long as possible, before opening a book or IPhone.

Finding Help for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper
Gerrit Vyn, writing for Round Robin
Gerrit is on assignment in eastern Russia to record the natural history of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, one of the most endangered bird species in the world. While the photos and information are of the focal point, posts like this highlight one of the beneficial aspects of blogging: instead of waiting for the summary and slide show upon his return, we’re right there with Gerrit as he documents the expedition.

Our destination for this project is the village of Meynypil’gyno—about 500 people living on a long gravel spit at the edge of the Bering Sea. Nearby is the largest known core breeding area of Spoon-billed Sandpipers, where at least 12 pairs bred last year. We arrived in early June, just before the males arrived to begin their courtship flights and nesting.

Flammulated Owl Surveys Near Island Park, Idaho
Anna Fasoli, writing for Speed Birding
Flammulated Owls are always interesting to come across, whether in real life or vicariously through someone else’s experiences. And though the description of an environment so different from my local birding patches is worth the read, I find myself more stunned (horrified? enamored?) by the photos presented by Anna, which are not of owls.

Alex and I have been out the last few nights conducting Flammulated Owl surveys for IBO just a few miles west of Yellowstone National Park. Last night, Alex and I discovered the grid we wanted to head to required a 3.5 km walk in. It is pretty much at the base of the continental divide west of Island Park on a steep slope, and as far as I can see, there is still a ton of snow just above the grid. Not a good sign!

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