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An Unfortunate Accident

A few weeks back I was finishing up a 25 mile bike ride on the Loveland Bike Trail. As I was pulling off the trail onto the sidewalk that connects the trail to the parking lot, my front tire went off the edge and caught the edge where the concrete meet the mulch. I tried to correct but it didn’t work. Down I went pretty hard onto my left side.

My left knee was pretty buggered up and my ankle was hurting as well. I was able to get myself up and load my bike onto my bike carrier and drive home. After parking and bringing my bike into the house i was finally able to sit down an assess my self. My ankle was swelling.

I cleaned up the best I could and drove to the E.R. To make a long story short, I have a broken Fibula down by the ankle. So as of right now I’ve been in a cast since for almost 2 weeks. And if everything goes well it should be coming off on the 22nd of this month and a walking boot applies.

So right now it’s front porch birding watching the hummingbirds fight over the feeders.

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Notes From The Field

One of my new pet projects is to collect the Warbler photos I’ve taken over the years, delete the bad ones and store the average to above average ones in a new album on my Flickr page. The recent posting of my Prairie Warbler photos was the first in the hopes of getting decent shots to fill in the many blanks.

If you’re interested in my Warbler Album on Flickr, the link is below.

“Warbler Album”

So yesterday I decided to head off to a local park where Louisiana Waterthrush can be common in the Spring. The park has a trail that cuts through a gorge with a nice flowing stream which is perfect. It was pretty quiet as I approached the area where they’ve been spotted recently. I hear their familiar song first. Now the tough part, locating the bird.

It takes several minutes before I’m able to get on the bird, then move into position to snap off dozens of shots before settling on this one.

As I was about to leave for the day and head home I decided to check my local birding Facebook page to see what’s going on. Well it turns out Ellis Lake has a Wilson’s Phalarope and 2 Cattle Egrets. So off I go.

The birds in question weren’t either in the lake, they were in the agricultural field that was partially flooded from all the rain, and the fact that the area sits in a real low lying area that’s prone to floods. The park sits so low that bordering the park sits the ancient remains of the Miami-Erie Canal.

Well the cattle Egrets were pretty easy to tick off.

Now the Wilson’s Phalarope was another matter all together. From what I gathered from other birders was that an eagle flew overhead and scattered the flock of wading birds and moved them all further away and a little more difficult to observe. So trekking out into the muddy and through standing water i was able to get some terrible photos of a great bird.

“Editorial”

To all my readers: If I happen to offend anyone with this editorial, this wasn’t my intention and any comments relating to this post will get a reply from myself. 

 

If your child was working on a math problem and was having trouble figuring out the answer, would you:

A. Help your child work through the problem to determine the correct answer.

B. Tell them the answer

Of course it’s “A”. How does the child learn if the answer is just given over. Helping them with how to figure out a math equation will only benefit them when it really matters. Like the next math exam.

Let’s keep this scenario in the back of our minds as I get to the point of my editorial.

I belong to 8 different Facebook groups that relate to birds and birding. And I’m noticing something that’s really puzzling. With the advent of affordable digital cameras and Facebook are birders new to this hobby becoming lazy when it comes to identifying birds?  Has it become too easy to take a photo of a bird, post it on Facebook and ask for ID help? Do birders new to the hobby carry a field guide with them, whether as a hard copy book or an APP?

Think about that for a few minutes.

Now granted I’ve been birding for a very long time, and even the name of this blog refers to a “Notebook”. But before Facebook and the ability to post photos from our digital cameras (if you could afford one), what we were left with was our respected Listserv for the given state we lived in. Info about rare birds, field trips and questions about birds had to be typed out and then read by others. If you were birding by yourself and saw a bird you couldn’t identify, you’d go to your field guide and try to find it using field markings, range maps, and the general habitat the bird was seen. And after that if you still couldn’t figure out which species you saw your only other outlet was to ask another birder or post your sighting on the Listserv with a description of the bird and hope someone could help you. The operative word here is “Help”.

Do we remember those days?

When you’re in the field birders on a whole will help anyone out with identifying a bird. However this is also the time to help the birder with future birds they may come across. We’re just passing along those pearls of wisdom, right? Nothing is more rewarding (other than spotting a rarity) than being able to ID a tough bird by looking at it’s field markings, and noticing the birds behavior. It’s the culmination of hard work on your part to become a more skilled birder.

Now if Facebook was around when I first started to bird, maybe things would be different. However some things remain a constant, we identify birds through their field marks. And the only way to do this is either ask someone or use a field guide. And what I’m seeing on Facebook is to just ask someone.

Resources that are available for the birder to help them identify birds are countless. Even Cornell Lab of Ornithology developed “Merlin” to help birders enter field marks into the APP, then the Merlin gives you some choices of birds it might be. Pretty easy. I tried it out when it first came out, and for a beginner it would be helpful.

However are new birders using all the available resources to ID a bird, or is it too easy to just post a picture and ask, because someone will tell me. Which leads me back to my math problem. Do we as birders try to help them make a positive ID by guiding them with our knowledge, or is it easier to just tell them?

Case in point. On a recent conversation I was having with a new birder on Facebook in regards to a 1st summer Orchard Oriole that she posted along with a pretty decent photo. She wanted someone to help ID the bird for her.

The first person to reply told her what it was. I replied with  2 questions. What was your first impression of the species and did you have a field guide? I think you know where I’m going with this. I just wanted to help someone out who’s new to birding to improve their skills. I wanted to start a conversation about field markings, where you saw the bird, etc.etc.etc.

Harmless right?

Instead of getting a reply from the person who posted the photo, I get this response from someone different saying” What’s wrong with just helping her and answering the question”?

My response to this person was that I wanted to help her to try to figure out the species using field marks. And by doing this she’ll become a better birder. By just giving the answer we’re not really helping her. Wouldn’t you think this would be more rewarding? (Refer to my math question)

Then a totally different person replied with ” Be the kind of birder you want to be and let others be the kind  they want to be. We each can decide what is most rewarding for ourselves”.

I never got a response from the original person.

I just dropped the thread, thinking by this time it was a hopeless cause to help.

This isn’t an isolated occurrence, everyday very common birds are being posted wanting ID help, and someone will give up the answer. And when I say common, I mean as common as a House Finch. Does this person not own a field guide and why not? They take photos of birds and joined a birding Facebook Group, I would assume they would own a field guide or have at least one on their phone.

REALLY!

But it’s not just the question from the new birder that bothers me the most, the fact that they’re coming across in their post as not even trying. No mention of what the bird looks like, coloration, field marks, size comparison to other birds. Where the bird was seen, or any other type of observation, let alone the mention of using a field guide. No, they want someone to ID the bird for them. And if you want to help, you get the “snarky” responses.

The instant gratification of the digital camera and Facebook responsiveness is killing the thought process that makes the skilled birder. Facebook can be a great tool, and I use it everyday. To teach someone face to face is totally different, however with so many users of Facebook out there and their need to “know right now” attitude, trying to teach someone using this kind of media can be difficult, but it can be done, only if people are willing to learn.

P.S. The sad truth is if I posted this editorial on this one particular Facebook page, I’d probably be kicked off, that would be after all the “snarky” replies.

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving

From my family to all my loyal readers, have a Happy Thanksgiving. And just like 2 years ago I’d like to share one of my favorite holiday songs. I hope you enjoy it as I often do during this time of year.

Notes From The Field

The weather has been nothing short of phenomenal here in the Ohio Valley. Friday we were hovering around the low to mid 70’s, and come Saturday after this weather front passed through the temps bottomed out.

Yesterday morning Jon and myself drove to the Brookville Lake area in Indiana, in 30 pluis miles and hour winds and at times snow squalls. The weather was brutal and the birds were really laying low. Other than a pair of Hooded Mergansers on the lake there wasn’t anything else on the lake. Since the lake was a bust we resorted to driving the farm roads looking for field birds. Black Bird flocks, Horned Larks and Lapland Longspurs and Sparrows were our targets as we drove slowly on the grid like roads that criss-cross the flatness of this area of Indiana.

At one time we were pretty sure we spotted a Brewer’s Blackbird in a small flock of mixed Common Grackles, Rusty Blackbirds, Starlings, and Red-winged Blackbirds. But we soon lost track of the bird after the flew to some trees close by. With Indiana being on the furthest eastern edge of their migration route this bird was a good contender for a Brewers, however not being able to relocate the bird keeps us from ticking it off.

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At one point we spotted a small group of about 10 Canadian Geese and low and behold here was this lone Greater White-fronted Goose. The whole group was really nervous as I tried to get close for this photo. I snapped off a few quick ones so not to spook them any more than need be.

Frozen to the core we called it quits in the early afternoon.

New T

shirt

I don’t have that many bird watching T-shirts, so when I saw this one I just had to buy it. I love it, and to the point.