Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cuckoos at Eagle Creek

Yesterday I birded at Eagle Creek Park mainly looking for migrant warblers and shorebirds. I started my morning at the Marina with a few warblers and tons of Chickadees, Titmice, Nuthatches, and Gnatcatchers. I found more warblers as I headed up the road but there was still not all that much diversity. The highlight of my morning was finding both Black-billed and Yellow-billed Cuckoos within about 15 yards of each other! Not only was I able to observe them for about 15 minutes, they were in positions where I was able to get some nice photographs!

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Black-billed Cuckoo

Black-billed Cuckoo

Monday, August 29, 2011

Amicalola Falls State Park

Last weekend, while visiting my sister-in-law in Atlanta, she took us to see Amicalola Falls State Park in the mountains of Northeast Georgia. We didn't make it up there early enough to go birding but the falls were incredibly impressive and the views from the top were spectacular!

We parked down at the bottom of the falls near the Visitor Center and hiked up to the top where the lodge is. It starts out as an easy hike through the woods near a rushing creek with some small falls.

The first set of steps takes you up to the base of the largest part of this cascading falls.

Me on the bridge below the falls

By the time you reach the top of the falls, you have covered 607 steps! Although it's a lot of work, the view from the top is worth the effort!

I will definitely be back to this park sometime when I am in Atlanta again and hope to have the chance to stay at the lodge. As an added bonus, I spotted a Mississippi Kite shortly after leaving the park to drive back to Atlanta!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Limiting Expectactions on Bird Outings

"When I am looking at a potential rarity, I try to ask myself: What do I want most here? Do I want this bird to be that particular species? Or do I genuinely want to know what it really is." This quote from Kenn Kaufman's Field Guide to Advanced Birding is one of the most important pieces of advice anyone can offer a beginning birder. If you genuinely want to learn about birds and their identification you need to follow this advice. You can extrapolate this advice to all identifications as well. The overall message is just to try to identify every bird correctly without bringing your own bias into the identification.

Throughout the start of my birding "life" I would always set goals for the number of species on a particular outing or a particular trip or just how many life birds I wanted to see within the next year. This probably led to many misidentifications just to get to the set number of species I wanted to see. After a few years of setting goals I decided to just go birding when I went birding. I believe that this has helped my identifications as much as almost anything else I have done.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Quick Trip to Michigan

This past weekend, my wife and I along with some of my other family members, headed up to my aunt and uncles house in the country outside of Detroit. It was a relaxing weekend and while it did not involve birding, there were a few nature-related highlights. The first highlight was the pair of Sandhill Cranes that would come out to drink at the pond on the property. They put on quite a show and had no problem with me sitting just 50 yards away. This is one of my favorite shots that I got.
The other highlight was all of the frogs that frequent a pond and waterfall on the property. The most cooperative one was a huge Bullfrog!

Hopefully I will be able to get out birding more over the next few weeks but my wife and I are closing on a new house on Friday and I'm guessing that will take up a lot of time! In September, Eric and I will both be attending the Midwest Birding Symposium. Will we see any of you there?