Friday, November 15, 2019

Fri-D Let's Make it Easier

For a variety of reasons, none too good, I've been out of the Cape May Birding scene for over a year. Now that I'm back, I run into old friends who ask me what I've been up to. I've been saying, "trying to get good at birding."

A couple people have actually laughed out loud at this. I experience a great deal of discomfort talking about myself, and it is in fact completely true I am trying to get better at birding. but I've been told I'm not too bad at this stuff, and I better be good, since I've been doing it for about 40 years in 49 states, 12 countries, and 5 continents with most of the very best birders who ever walked.

This is dangerous. The good get better, and the new get overwhelmed. There are so many field guides now that a lot of my scrawled notes in my old guides are superfluous, although at scrawling time people didn't know the stuff I was writing down or didn't talk about it. All this new accessible info is great, right? Not if it makes birding harder. It ain't no good at all then.

Everyone looks for the 'red head' on male Eurasian Wigeon (I was listening to fellow birders calling Green-winged Teal Eurasian Wigeon, and even Redheads, just the other day], but what color are Eurasian's flanks? What if your duck has it's head under water? Ref. photo above.

Or, e.g., swans:

[If it's on a little pond, it's a Mute Swan, except when it's not. If it's on anything from May through September, it's a Mute Swan. If it's fanning its wings over its back, like the two above, it's a Mute Swan that's pissed off. If it's got a straight neck, almost no visible tail, and honks, it's a Tundra Swan, like the one in front. No bill color needed, and the hell with details of feathering at the base of the bill. Bunker pond, Cape May Point, NJ last week.]

Some i.d.'s are difficult, sure, so let's keep the easy ones easy.

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