Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Almost..but not quite.

I have come to realize that Field guides often point out "diagnostic" field marks that in fact really aren't. They may be the norm for a certain species, but not diagnostic by any stretch.
I have collected a sample of photos that demonstrate how a field guide can lead you down a bumpy ID path.
European Golden Plover
Almost.. but not quite
 This plover shows an erect stance, pot-bellied breast, skinny "necktie", ect. Compare the structure to the Black-bellied plover behind it. It's an obvious difference. But, the ID didn't pass the muster

Little Stint
Almost..but not quite.

This bird shows rufous tones, a gape notch that doesn't really matter, and a split-supercillium among other traits. It was called a Semipalamated sandpiper.

Long-toed Stint
Almost..but not quite

 This bird shows what every field guide says is diagnostic- a pale base to the lower mandible, dark centered scapulars, and an erect stance. Come to find out Least can also sport these traits. Who knew.

Common Ringed Plover
Almost..but not quite

 This is a July bird in tattered plumage. No doubt a female, but no takers on the ringed Plover.

Aphrodite Fritllary
Almost..but not quite
 Even butterfly guides stumble. The marks on the basal cells, as show w/ arrows, are noted in all guides as diagnostic for Aphrodite, but now always. This bug has been called a Great-spangled fritillary although the guides show clean basal cells for that species.

Hickory Hairstreak
Almost..but not quite
The guide states the blue HW cell needs to be longer than the adjacent orange cell which in this photo is almost 2x as long, but it's a Banded hairstreak.
The moral of the story is field experience and hours of observation can usually trump the Field Guides

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Quieter Times

I wish to go back to a  Quieter Time,
To step from these changes, not walk that fine line
To jump from this tightrope suspended in space
Falling into your arms back to yesterday's place

To lie by your side on a lace afternoon
Our bodies awash in the glow of the room
The curtains alive from a soft salty breeze
The passing of Summer stirs the Autumnal leaves

From the porch of a seaside resort town hotel
To moments before parting into passion we fell
Never dreaming these decades of future would pass
Never seeing each other yet the memories last

Yet I in this aerial test can't turn 'round
If the balance is shattered I'll lose what I found
So I steady myself before moving ahead
Hearing echos of whispers of words we once said

Yes I wish to go back to the times spent with you
The best that I've known from the old or the new
So cherished these memories of love that we shared
That they balance my steps as I move thru the air....
h tomlinson

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sexes of the Seasons

It was one of those charcoal drawing mornings where the sky and clouds are same grays as the water and the trees and bushes have just had stronger stokes to darken them. To set them apart. It is a shades of gray  scene as far as the eye can see.
There is still a chill in the air, and the sunless morning seems not to know the calendar date.
Yet, I could feel Spring starting to nudge her way in as Old Man Winter tires of his grip on us.
She is patient. Every day she unfolds another finger of the Old man's grip until he finally lets go to the inevitable. She will have her way.
All around the locals are testing their voices after a long winter of silence.
The Pileated stutters to his mate somewhere across the river, and the throng of Wooducks whine their pitiful whine.
I hear Tree Sparrows, White-throats and the occasional Fox sparrow somewhere in the dense brush and overhead the croak of Ravens.
It's nice to hear the forest in song. Even the sterile smell of winter is broken by faint odors I can't quite put my finger on.
Maybe it's the bubbles rising to the surface of the thawing vernal pools. The sweet smell of last years fallen leaves.
Or maybe it's the buds sending off nameless scents of new growth.
Or is it just my optimism tricking doesn't matter I still enjoy it.
Up river I see the unmistakable wake of a creature heading my way.
It's as silent as the current as is swims closer and closer.
It's a Beaver. He swims a snaky pattern as he heads down stream never pausing but I can tell he's wary of my presence. I stand perfectly still, waiting with camera ready as he glides by. My camera shutter chatters like a annoyed wren and he flips his tail up and smacks the water in warning. He has a mate somewhere and he just alerted her to danger. I see her sneak behind the many fallen trees in the water and think I am not the one to be afraid of. The water craft folks will report you and that will be that. They will come for you as they have for the past two years. The lodge you worked so hard to build will again fall to disrepair.
I am so sorry.
I move on looking for other signs of Spring and it's not to long before I hear a Phoebe chipping up ahead.
Is it the name that makes me think they are all females? but to me they are which begs the question where do the little Phebs come from?
And then I think why is it the only season I think of as male is Winter?
Why are the other three ladies. Each very different but female persona's just the same.
These are the Sexes of the Seasons for me...and Winter is not my favorite.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Whats the Point?

When ever I can't decide where it is I want to bird I always have a pocket of favorites that I can pull out. Today like many others I chose Stone Harbor Point. Last time I walked the Point it was cold, windy, and snow covered. Winter was in control.
 Today was one of those gift days South Jersey can throw your way in the middle of February.
49 degrees, March Lion winds, and the up lifting angle of the shadows as the sun changes her arc across the sky.  I feel  the inevitable arrival of Spring all across the dunes, but it is quiet.
I have seen a Horned Lark poking in the flotsam between the dunes, but the Ipswich have gone probably taking with them my chance of finding an old friend....
The Point has changed. No surprise. The weather and tides constantly rearrange her surfaces, yet she withstands the passing times.
Today there are channels cutting between the dunes and I meander around the temporary water features.
Not expecting the American Bitterns to have stuck out Ole' Man Winter, I once again flushed both of them.
A couple I surmise. I feel bad.
I find myself following the edge of a new tide channel trying to work towards a gathering of shorebirds along the beach when I see a beautiful male Snowy Owl. He sees me but I have no choice but to continue parallel to the channel forcing me to walk past him.
I am walking slowly not making eye contact and I pass without spooking him.
He is looking for something. We all are I guess, but his focus is intense. I take a photo and turn away from him to head towards the beach.
Low tide has strewn all sorts of storm tossed sea stuff. Beach pickings. Lots of live whelks and clams. Dizzy from tumbling, but alive and waiting for the tide to return them to safety.
The sun warming my back soothes the aches I have from shovelling snow up home. 
And I remember Whats the Point.......
The price we pay for the Gift of Life, is in knowing it must be returned.
 h. tomlinson

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

2013  A Year in Review, Tooting My Horn

Jersey Birdline posters ran a thread in January  First seen / Last seen which because of work I missed posting about.
Shortly there after a blogger posted how he likes to go find his own birds and not just chase other's sightings.
Well, I am not much of a chaser either but I do strive to find my "own" birds and contribute to the birding community.
Below is a review of the birds I found last year thru my own efforts: FOY is First of Year reported.
18 Northern Saw-whet Owls
 Orange-crowned warbler(s)
 42 Marbled Godwits
 Wilson's Phalarope - FOY at Heislerville and another in August at the Higbee dikes
 Western Willets FOY May
 Silver-phase Turkey's
 Hybrid Canada/ Something warbler. I'm still in the Townsend's warbler state of mind
 Olive-sided Fly...with lots of help from Linda Widdop
 Bell's Vireo - not eBird confirmed
European Golden Plover- not yet confirmed by the Records committee
Bairds sandpiper FOY
Buff-breasted sandpiper FOY
Lawrence's warbler
Golden-winged warbler
Philadelphia Vireo FOY
2 Rufous Hummingbirds
Selasphorus Hummingbird
White-crowned Sparrow juvenal Gambel's race
Clay-colored sparrow (2) not reported by others
Western Grebe  Dec - Sandy Hook first of the 2013-2014 winter season
Smith's Longspur. actually 2014 but hey
It was a great year for me and 2014 started w/ a BanG!
Many thanks to my friends who travelled parts of the journey w/ me

Thursday, January 2, 2014

And so it begins....

Happy New Year and Welcome to Odd Birds In. 
A blog about..well, anything I want.
Mostly birds but I'm sure I'll wander off into uncharted airspace.
I've been a poster to NJ Birds for many, many years and will continue to do so but I feel a need to begin my own blog dedicated to the Odd things we encounter while out and about.
I invite You to join me.
I am a recreational birder which essentially means my Passions far exceed my skill sets and I probably will never make a dime from Birding.
What I have made is friends and as the credit card company says "Priceless".
In the past few years I've carried a camera along and find that drives me more than listing.
I was a lister...
I went to counseling and am doing much better now.
I couldn't tell you my Life list, Year list, or any other totals except the ones I've loaded into eBird. (Minus the ones that haven't been accepted)
My mantra when it comes to reporting is very simple:
No Pic...No Tick
I did break that rule this past Fall with Bell's Vireo but the reviewers held me to my own mantra and
 the report wasn't accepted.
If I wasn't very good at Finding birds this would probably upset me, but I will find another BEVI and hopefully my camera and I are speaking to one another that day.
A good birder friend of mine describes my ID technique as follows;
Most birders when looking at an Odd bird will start with the ID's that  are "closest" to the local birds. I on the other hand will start way out and often need someone to reel me back in.
It makes the purists crazy but has served me well.
Besides it's more Fun that way.
I make mistakes, outrageous ID's, but I never make shit up.
I am in it for the FUN and anyone who has birded w/ me will concur.
I'm off birding.........looking for Fun and the
Odd Birds In