Thursday, September 20, 2012

Autumn Eye Candy

Thursday, September 20, 2012
 An anvil thunderhead catches the evening sunlight.
Looking through my iPhoto library I realized that I had some very nice eye candy images. Here are a few that I collected in recent weeks.

 Macro shot of a past-its-freshness-date purple coneflower.

 Macro shot of daughter Phoebe's eye—she leaves these on every camera in the house.

White hibiscus flower—from the plant along our garage wall that the indigo buntings nested in very late in August.

Glory rays—that's what my Great Aunt Lolly called them—coming from the cloud-covered sun.

This image, taken with my iPhone 4S, looks almost like a painting. The blood moon was rising over the neighbor's pasture and the low-light gives the image a pleasingly grainy feel.

Soon the broad-winged hawks will all be well on their way to South America. I digiscoped this one from our tower using my iPhone.

Another iPhone digiscoping capture of a brown thrasher from the tower.

Streaks from the West, heralding the end of another beautiful August day at Indigo Hill. How I wish I could stay home and never miss another sunrise or sunset!

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Big Sit's New Flexi-date!

Friday, September 7, 2012
My favorite annual birding event is The Big Sit, held traditionally on the second Sunday of October, all over the world. Here's how the Big Sit works: Find a birdy spot. Mark off a 17-foot diameter circle, register your team and circle on the Big Sit website. Then sit inside your circle from midnight to midnight (or for as much of that 24-hour period as you can handle) on the second Sunday in October and count birds. Easy, right? And lots of fun!

The Big Sit concept has been around for a long time, but it was a handful of members of the New Haven (CT) Bird Club that conducted the first organized Big Sit in the early 1990s. They liked it so much that they trademarked the name The Big Sit!™

Being a one-day event, and having that one day be a Sunday, the Big Sit has always had some participants, or would-be participants, who could not fit the Sit into their schedules due to church, family obligations, etc. And I'm sure that fewer Big Sitters stayed up all the way until midnight on Sunday night since the next day (for most of us) is a school/work day.

After several requests from participants, and a bit of internal discussion, the NHBC decided to open the dates for future Big Sits to include both Saturday and Sunday on the second weekend of October. For the 2012 Big Sit, sitters can choose to sit on either Saturday, October 13 or on Sunday October 14. Or you can choose to sit on both days and pick the best one to record for your Sit circle.

The Big Sit is a non-competitive event (although I compete with myself every year to top our Sit site record for number of species). Anyone can participate—it's free—and you don't HAVE to register, but we appreciate it if you do. Mainly the Big Sit is FUN! It's like a tailgate party for birders. I'm already looking forward to sitting for parts of both days. And if Saturday is rained out, well there's always Sunday!

Happy sitting whenever and wherever you do it!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

ABA Young Birders' Conference

Thursday, September 6, 2012

On Saturday, September 22, 2012, I'll be speaking to and birding with a passel of young birders at The American Birding Association's Mid-Atlantic Young Birder Conference. This important event is sponsored by the ABA and Leica Sport Optics, in conjunction with the Delaware Nature Society and Ashland Hawk Watch and hosted by the Delaware Dunlins Youth Birders Club. It will be held at The Ashland Nature Center in Hockessin, Delaware beginning at 8 am. My fellow featured speaker is Marie McGee winner of The ABA's "Young Birder of the Year" contest.

It's so reassuring to see events (like this one) and clubs for young birders springing up all over the place. If you started watching birds as a young person (as I did), you probably remember wondering if there was ANYone else out there in the world who also enjoyed birds. It was a lonely feeling. Lucky for today's budding nature fans it's a billion times easier to connect with like-minded souls. And with events and clubs and regular field trips and camps where you get to spend time with other young birders—well it makes an older birding dude like me very happy to see that the future of birds and bird watching seems to be getting stronger all the time.

I've arranged for all registrants at the ABA's Mid-Atlantic Young Birder Conference to receive a copy of my Young Birder's Guide to Birds of Eastern North America. It's going to be a blast.

If you have a young person in your life who is interested in birds and nature, please encourage them to attend one of the many organized events for young birder/naturalists.

Another resource is the newly redesigned and relaunched Young Birders' section on the Bird Watcher's Digest website. It is sponsored by our friends at Leica Sport Optics. I'm especially proud of the birder/blogger content we're highlighting, as well as the list of clubs and organizations for young birders.

I look forward to meeting these new bird watchers—in Delaware later this month, and at events in the years ahead. How exciting!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Caption Contest #23 Winner!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Kirby the Kestrel's Appalachian Hair cuttin' corral!

That's the winning entry in Caption Contest #23, submitted, along with several other clever ones, by Robert Mortensen. Congrats to Robert for another big win. He gets a year's-worth of Bird Watcher's Digest for this prize-winning caption.

This was another hard caption contest to judge.
Some other really funny entries:
Carla said... I just know this would make great nesting material if it wasn't stuck to this human!

tommyart said...Thank goodness for the Buzz Cut... It makes it easier to find the bugs!

Alan Pulley said...Training to be a pirate is hard work!

Robert Mortensen said...Following the trail of reflecting ultraviolet light from the mammal's urine, the Kestrel finally tracks down and grasps the juvenile Homo sapien biped.

Robert Mortensen said..."What he really wanted to take with him for his first year at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was a Snowy Owl, like Harry Potter's Hedwig. But alas, his family was so poor, nary a shirt for the lad could they afford. He had to settle for Kirby, the family farm's Sparrow Hawk."

Chris Harbard said...Marge decided to try a novel approach to rid Brett of his head-lice.

Anonymous said...Mom, he followed me home. Can I keep him?

Thanks to all who participated! And special thanks to Rondeau Ric McArthur for the image. You can read ALL the submitted captions along with the original post here.