Bird brained stories!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Nuthatch sighting!

If you're a regular reader of my ramblings, you might be wondering, given all the previous photos of White-Breasted Nuthatches, why I'm excited about yet another sighting. If you're really curious and want to know why, you'll have to read on.

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In the current issue of Wild Bird Magazine, Pete Dunne lists "Twenty Important Catalysts." I saw that title and was eager to read what his list included. I recently read Kenn Kaufman's Kingbird Highway, and he shares right away that the year when he did his big birding trip was a year on the cusp of big changes in the pastime. He was birding in more "innocent" times, when person-to-person networks and hard work, along with knowing your birds, would make or break Big Years. As he says, we're now in the age where anyone with unlimited money and time can make a good stab at these records.

One of the reasons this is true is change number 7 on Pete Dunne's list--the internet. Instead of waiting for the monthly or quarterly listings of interesting sightings in the various organizational newsletters, anyone signed on to a state or regional birding listserv can learn almost immediately where to go to see the cool birds others are seeing.

I'm certainly not immune from the lure of the internet. In fact, it was an internet posting by Dan Jackson, who's already gifted me with two life birds, that led me to Richmond Bay after work. The day before, Dan had spotted an Iceland Gull hanging out with about 500 Herring and Ring-Billed Gulls on the ice. I couldn't take advantage of his news, trapped as I was at school on parent-teacher conference night. At work the next day, peeking again at the wisbirdn-list, Dan was reporting a new sighting of an adult Lesser-Black Backed Gull, along with a Glaucous Gull! I'd brought my binoculars and camera to work in anticipation of looking for the Iceland on my way home.

Off I went, driving right through LaCrosse rush hour traffic, rather than my preferred rural route over the bluffs. Any time one of these internet posts appears, I can just about guarantee that whenever I'm able to arrive, there will be other birders there. Today was no exception. In fact, I've done this sort of thing enough times now that I don't even need to ask people who pull off if they're looking for the birds. I can just tell, and the conversation gets right down to business!

So it was that I stood at the edge of the bay, peering through my binoculars as I watched about a million Bald Eagles amusing themselves by chasing after twice as many gulls hanging about on the ice. Try as I might, I couldn't seem to make any of those gulls into one of the three I sought. As I tried to will black primaries into white, a couple pulled into Bob's Bait and Tackle and walked over. Not even asking if they were birders, I simply said, "I'm not seeing anything." We chatted a bit more, then the woman asked me "Are you Gwyn?" I guess the little photo in my sidebar is probably a big clue, but I still am momentarily astonished when someone I've never met seems to know my name.

I told her I was, and she said, "I'm Nuthatch."

I had to think for a quick moment. Nuthatch? Of Bootstrap Analysis? Didn't she live in Michigan? Surely she hadn't traveled THIS far for three gulls!

She hadn't. They were in the area for other reasons, but had checked the internet listings and came to see if they could find the gulls. In a world without the internet, this would truly have been a first meeting for us. However, this is the world with internet, and both of us have been active bloggers in the nature blogosphere. We've shared space on various editions of I and the Bird. We "know" several other bloggers in common and consider some of the same people, like Cindy of Woodsong, as friends. Now we can say we've met in the real world as well. The internet can be a bane or a boon, depending on how it's used. I'm glad that my use has been mostly of the latter sort; that use allowed me to turn a day without any life sightings into one with the sighting of a very unique species of Nuthatch!

Nuthatch, if you're reading this, it was a treat to meet you beyond the computer screen. I hope your travels were safe and that we meet again some day.

7 Comments:

  • Beautiful pic! LOVE this entry!!!

    By Blogger Adrienne " A little dramatic at times", at 2:12 PM  

  • There's an old saying, "it's a small world", well, the internet has certainly made it a lot smaller. Great litle bird by the way!

    By Blogger Duncan, at 3:00 PM  

  • It was cool meeting you, Gwyn, you are the first blogger in our little blogosphere that I've met in person. And my flight home was cancelled this morning, so we were able to pick out one of the gulls this morning in the driving snow. Until we meet again...

    By Anonymous Nuthatch, at 4:11 PM  

  • What a fun sighting!
    I look forward to spotting some bloggers in a similar way

    Delightful post

    By Blogger Endment, at 12:27 AM  

  • oooo I wish I would have been/could have been there- what a great sighting for each of you..fun!

    By Anonymous Cindy, at 10:28 AM  

  • Oh, my!

    Gwyn, I've appreciated your checking on my little hummingbird blog over the past couple of weeks. My sister told me you were a real birder, but I didn't fully appreciate your experience and abilities (both birding and photographic) until I came to check out your blog. I've now subscribed to your blog and will be watching with awe as you share more of your pictures.

    I wish my silly hummingbird had been smart enough to build her nest in the yard of someone like you, someone with enough patience to leave her alone and trust her to do her maternal duty. I have a nest cam in the works, though, and will soon be able to stop standing at the back door, peering out and reminding myself that I Must Not Disturb the Birds!

    Stay tuned...and I'll do the same!

    Amy

    By Blogger Amy, at 3:05 PM  

  • haha . . . that's so neat! gorgeous little guy you captured. :D

    By Blogger doris, at 8:00 AM  

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