Oct
01

Upcoming Events and Tours

By · Comments (2)

Birders birding La Crau sheep barn

October 2: Lecture and book signing for the Southern Ocean Birding Group.

October 15: Lecture and book signing for the Bergen County Audubon Society.

October 25: Lecture at Cape May Autumn Weekend.

October 25: Book signing at Cape May Autumn Weekend.

November 8: Birding Sandy Hook with the Linnaean Society of New York.

November 20-29: Private Birds and Art tour: Venice to Florence.

January 31: Birding New Jersey with the Brooklyn Bird Club.

February 18: Lecture and book signing for the Queens County Bird Club.

February 19: Lecture and book signing for the Delaware Valley Ornithological Club.

February 20: Lecture and book signing for the Wyncote Audubon Society.

March 13-18: Birding southeast Arizona with the Linnaean Society of New York.

March 21-26: Birding Nebraska with WINGS.

March 31: Lecture for the New York City Audubon Society.

April 18-25: Birding Catalonia with WINGS.

May 11-15: Lecture and field trip for Biggest Week in American Birding.

Sycamore-Rick.jpg

Share
Categories : Information
Comments (2)
Sep
30

Do You Hear Hoofbeats?

By · Comments (0)

Gellert and I are used to running into interesting birds on his walks: in just the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen a fine peregrine falcon, a common raven, and a smattering of the commoner southbound warblers. This morning, though, we came across something totally unexpected.

Gould, SynAust, Zebra Finch

We screeched to a halt when a tiny, short-tailed gray thing flushed from the roadside into a low tree, and were startled to see a little zebra finch looking back at us.

It was a long flight on those short wings from this species’ native range. Or do you suppose — just suppose — that somebody left a window open last night?

Vieillot, OisChant, Zebra Finch

Share
Sep
29

Cape May

By · Comments (2)

Yes, we arrived a day late for the whiskered tern and we left a day early for the zone-tailed hawk: but my latest tour had a great time at Cape May last week all the same. A few photos:

Birding birders Cape May

The view from the hotel balcony at dawn.

Birding birders Cape May

Sunrise over the beach.

Birding birders Cape May

Some autumn color in Atlantic County.

Birding birders Cape May

An eastern ribbon snake in the Meadows (or some Thamnophis or another).

Brown Thrasher

One of many, many, many brown thrashers at Higbee Beach.

Birding birders Cape May

If you get a chance to bird with this genial gang, do it!

Birding birders Cape May

The beach scene across from our hotel.

Birding birders Cape May

Black skimmers and a nice variety of gulls and terns, there for the picking just steps from our door.

Birding birders Cape May

A great cormorant joins its smaller cousins on the concrete ship.

Birding birders Cape May

We’ll be back.

Share

Black-throated Blue Warbler

This pretty little black-throated blue warbler was a welcome but not unexpected guest at the bird bath this morning.

But — as they say on the internet — watch what she does next.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

I think the house sparrow was as surprised as I was when the warbler flew up to the newly filled tray feeder.

She obviously liked what she found in there.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

I should explain that she wasn’t sharing the house sparrow’s millet: I’d put the remnants of a chunk of suet in there earlier this morning. Still, this isn’t your everyday feeder bird, is it?

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Share
Sep
23

Slapping Soras

By · Comments (0)

Trigger alert!

Wilson

Wilson

Last September, pondering the abundance of the lovely little sora in autumn marshes, we wondered what it meant that so many had once been “paddled” in Virginia’s Curl’s Neck Marsh. I even managed to make contact with a couple of outfitters who specialize in rail hunting. But the response was everywhere the same: It just meant that the rails had been taken from a boat.

Everywhere the same, and everywhere unsatisfactory. Here’s the real answer, from the Richmond Dispatch at the turn of the last century:

It is a saying often heard in the country, if not in the city, that “slapped” birds are much better than “shot” ones. This is to say that market hunters, of course, do not shoot their game, but kill them with a long paddle — eighteen feet long — with which they shove their boats through the marshes…. A slight blow from the heavy paddle “settles his hash forever,” as the country boy says…. The bird is not bruised, and is much to be preferred to the shot bird….

Not a very pretty picture, but at least now we know. And we know, too, what the witty rail hunter called himself a century ago: a “soracer.”

He stands [in the boat] and slaps the poor little things until his arms are tired. Such a night as this he is apt to kill fifteen or twenty dozen.

Our reporter goes on to tell us that a dozen soras fetch 50 cents at the market, and that “the good soracer” earns 50 to 75 dollars in September and October. Do the math: That’s 24 birds to the dollar, or 1200 to 1800 rails a season for the skilled paddler.

I can only repeat what I said last year at this time: That’s a lot of soras.

Share
Categories : Information
Comments (0)

 Subscribe in a reader

Nature Blog Network