Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Closing in on 300

In preparation for my upcoming trip to Cape May, New Jersey, for the Autumn Birding Festival, I was reviewing my Life List and studying my field guides for target birds. When I go to a new birding spot, I try to anticipate what birds I might find there, so that I am not totally unprepared. As I was straightening out my Life List, I realized I had left several birds off - birds like Peregrine Falcon, Bufflehead, and, of all things, European Starling. Once I cleaned house, I recounted.


Two hundred ninety-eight birds may not be a lot to a hard-core lister, but it is a great number for me, considering that in 2004, I was only at 203. I have been doing a lot of birding in the last
3 1/2 years, and my list is growing by leaps and bounds.

So, I started to wonder - being only 2 birds away from 300, what Life Bird will be the one to put me over the top?

Number one on my Most Wanted List:

Black Skimmers
Thank you to Avi Kenny for this first image.

Thanks also to Sharon Anthony for the second photo.

If there is a cooler bird on this planet, I don't know what it is. The lower mandible of that fabulous bill is much longer than the upper one, and is used to scoop up fish as the bird skims the surface of the water. I can't wait to see that in real life!

As a dedicated sparrow-lover, I'm hoping for Sharp-tailed Sparrows. Either

Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow, photo by Steve Collins, thanks a lot

which we do have in Ohio,
or Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows,
Photo from U. Conn site on Saltmarsh Sparrow research

which we don't, would be sweet.

Failing that, a Seaside Sparrow would do nicely.
photo from the National Zoo/Smithsonian

I'd even be happy with Clay-colored Sparrows.Thanks for the use of this photo
by Allan or Cathy Murrant
at Capebretonbirds

How can you not love all those Little Brown Birds?

And, speaking of the ultimate in little brown birds, I gotta, I just GOTTA see

a Piping Plover.

Cuteness to the max!

Another target bird is the American from encarta

Just as handsome as the skimmer, and with a similar color pattern, he looks like he is dressed for a formal event. Maybe my 300th party?

So, who wants to hazard a guess what my 300th Life Bird will be? Post your guess in comments, and when I return, I will let you know who the winner is. (The prize? Who knows?)

With my luck, it will be some kind of sandpiper, birds that all look alike to me:
brown, spotted or streaked, with long legs.

>>A hearty "Thank You!" to all the nature photographers whose pictures helped illustrate this post.<<


Beth in NYC said...

Kathi, come visit Long Island some time. We've got skimmers, piping plovers and oystercatchers all nesting on the same beach, plus common and least terns. Nickerson Beach - it's excellent! :-)

Susan Gets Native said...

Here's how it's gonna go:
We will hit the area near the Cape May Observatory and get you a clay-colored sparrow. Then as we head back to the condo, we will stop at the 2nd Avenue jetty and get you some black skimmers.
That's how it's gonna roll.

LauraHinNJ said...

"reviewing my life list and studying my field guide..."

(shaking head in shame and disbelief)


I think the skimmers should be #300. You'll have to plan it that way.

I don't know what has Susan thinking that a clay-colored will be as easy as that, but...

That boat trip ought to net you lots of nice shorebirds. I'm afraid that the piping plovers may be long gone by then tho.

Mary C said...

Kathi - how about a piping plover for # 299, and an American oystercatcher for # 300?

KatDoc said...

I have never had a desire to visit NYC, but I find your description of Nickerson Beach very tempting. Maybe I will overcome my fear of big cities some day and drop by.

I'm hoping for Black Skimmers as #300. Once I get to 299, I am going to close my eyes till Susan sees skimmers ahead. (Perhaps I shouldn't be the driver at that point.)

Looking at distribution, I fear the chance of Piping Plovers is low, but a girl can dream, can't she?

What, you don't study your field guides before a trip? ;)

~Kat, who fears her anal-retentive side is showing

Susan Gets Native said...

Laura, remember the clay-colored sparrow we saw in the rain? It could happen again!

Mary said...

Kathi, you'll be pleased. Cape May will deliver.

denapple said...

We saw all these shore birds at Gulf Shores and the Alabama Gulf Coastal Birding Festival. Great fun!