Yesterday (24 August 2017) I had my best ever shorebirding day in eastern ON. Our group tallied an amazing 15 species of shorebird! The water level has receded approximately a ft. since 8 August, leaving behind plum shorebird habitat from Beach 1 all the way through to Beach 3. Continue reading Shorebirding BLISS at Presqu’ile Provincial Park
Scenario: a small bird flushes up from a scrubby area. It pauses out in the open for a few seconds. You raise your bins and madly work the focus knob to try and get the bird in focus. Within a few seconds, it flies a short distance, lands, then disappears into thick cover. Your identification is ‘unknown species.’ A field blunder, especially problematic in bush-birding scenarios: forgetting to pre-focus by preparing your binoculars for focus at close range.
Pre-focusing is a skill that is learned by becoming familiar with the extent and range of your focus knob. You can even practice this while on the couch! The key is learning to adjust the focus without looking through the binoculars. You don’t have to get the focus exact by any means; getting somewhere relatively close to the ideal focus is the key. For bush-birding, I find the best starting point for my Nikon Monarch 5s is about 1/5th of the way between close focus maximum and infinity. This way, if a bird pops up about 20-30 feet in front of you, the focus “sweet spot” is quick to find. Pre-focusing equals less time spent fiddling with the focus knob and more time identifying the birds in the field.
Photo: Hermit Thrush. Maple Hill Park, Ottawa, Ontario. 24 April 2014.
Dunne, P. 1998. Little tricks of the trade. Birding 30(4): 333-334.
Late summer is a beautiful time of year to enjoy herons. Sometimes, herons are seen flying over, at dusk, belting out their unique, throaty call as they pass overhead. Below I share sound clips of the flight calls of eastern NA herons. Continue reading Heron flight calls
Sunshine filtering through green leaves of both forest canopy and leafy undergrowth can ‘alter’ the true colour of a bird’s plumage; this is especially true of whites, which can turn yellowish, and light greens and browns, which can increase in perceived saturation. Continue reading Colour misconception: sunshine filtered through green leaves
Using eBird’s Explore Data — Bar Charts function, I created a variety of graphs, some highlighting frequency of observations, derived from the percentage of birder’s observations of a particular species / all checklists during a specific time frame, and others highlight the total number of individuals tallied during a particular timeframe. Continue reading Guide to Fall Arrivals in Eastern Ontario
Several summers ago, I made a brief attempt to approach the study of juvenile Lincoln’s vs. Swamp sparrows and noticed that the lore blocked all apparent avenues to field ID success. I sputtered in interest the following summer, and again wound up turned off/disinterested. Continue reading Separating juvenile Lincoln’s from Swamp in the Field
From late summer, through to the following spring, Purple Finch can sing a confusing rendition of their song. The flow to their sweet, melodious song is chopped, and what can be heard are brief spurts of notes followed by pauses. Continue reading Purple Finch “vireo song”
This web article covers some of the less-discussed and more subtle field marks to keep an eye out for when you encounter a Bay-breasted/Blackpoll in the field this fall.
Continue reading Bay-breasted vs. Blackpoll Warblers in Fall