Sunday, December 6, 2009

The three worst words in birding

Edit, Dec. 12: Added some better photos and bird ID's. How'd you do?


"It just flew."

Surely this is the worst thing any birder could hear when she or he is working like mad to get on the bird that everybody else can see. All around you, people are giving you directions, some helpful, some less so. "It's right there. Right in front of me, high in that tree. Not the big tree, the smaller one, with all the green leaves. Can't you see it?"

No, I can't see it! And why not? Because, IT JUST FLEW!

So, to celebrate the worst phrase in birding, here are some less-than stellar photos of the birds that just flew. Just for fun, how many of them can you identify? (All photos enlarge with a click.)

Bay-breasted Warbler
Magee Marsh, May, 2009

Blackburnian Warbler
Cranberry Glades, W Va., April 2009

Black-throated Green Warbler
Cranberry Glades, WVa., April 2009

New River Gorge, WVa., April 2009

Dark-eyed Junco
Wildacres, N. Carolina, June 2009

Green Heron
Crooked Run Nature Preserve, Sept. 2009

Great Egret
Magee Marsh, May 2009

Canada Warbler (I think)
Magee Marsh, May 2009

Red-headed Woodpecker, immature
Clermont County, Ohio, Dec. 2009
Next week, we commenorate my second-least favorite birding phrase: "You should have been here yesterday (last week, last year.)"


Two quick stories. The junco is the first one I have ever heard singing, and I recognized the song. At least, I recognized it as "something different." Because we only get juncos as winter visitors here, I had never heard them sing before. While walking along a road at my pottery retreat this June, in the mountains of North Carolina, I heard a sweet chipping song. At first, I wrote it off to yet another one of the
hundreds of singing Chipping Sparrows I had been listening to that week. Then, I stopped and really listened. The junco was sitting at eye level with me, and I got to watch it for quite a while and take several photos before it flew.

About the "maybe Canada Warbler:" That photo is dated May 16, and I had labeled it as a Canada. I have a memory of seeing a Canada Warbler that day and it's on my check list, but have no other photos documenting it. I have many photos of Magnolia Warblers from May 18 of this year, but none from May 16. Until my beloved Science Chimp weighed in, I was confident in my label. Now, I doubt myself. Compare the Maggie below with the Mystery Warbler above - you be the judge.


Weedpicker Cheryl said...

We all feel your pain Kathi! I could send you a dozen photos just like these.

Fun (but painfully true)post!

Elizabeth said...

Such a clever idea for a post!

I wouldn't wish for a different crane picture, though. It's fantastic!

Susan said...

I have lots of photos like these too! I guess thats why birding is such great fun...because once in a blue moon, it doesn't fly away!

Kathiesbirds said...

Well, I can Get the Baltimore oriole, the green heron and the great egret but that's about it. Funny post and a great idea! I got one Cooper's hawk that didn't fly away over on my blog.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Loving this post!!
Lemme try.

Chestnut-sided warbler
Blackburnian warbler
Black-throated green warbler
Beatsthehellouttame warbler (Tennessee?)
green heron
great egret
magnolia warbler
red-headed woodpecker

Eee! Eee! eee! Happy Science Chimp, signing off.

KatDoc said...

Thanks for all who commented and/or played my little game. Sorry, Kathyie B., there is no Baltimore Oriole in this series of Really Bad Pictures, but you got the Green Heron and Great Egret.

Trust our Science Chimp to come to the rescue with the most correct answers, but it's nice to know I stumped even her, just a little bit.

The "Beatsthehellouttame warbler" is, in fact, a Dark-eyed Junco from North Carolina, and the Magnolia Warbler was a Canada from Magee Marsh. All the rest are correct, and I am off to post better photos of each, if I have them.


Julie Zickefoose said...

@##$#%!! I was totally waffling on Canada versus Magnolia! Finally settled for Maggie thanks to the law of averages.And I thought it was a bright fall male. But you can see the eyering in the photo, derrr.


KatDoc said...

You know, in looking thru my file of photos from that day, I can find a Maggie, but not a Canada Warbler, which is how I labeled the photo. This is *really* embarrassing, Zick, but you may know my pics better than I do! I gotta go back and research my own notes. Arrgghh!


Julie Zickefoose said...

The truth is out there. Don't bust yourself looking for notes--I'm fine either way! But from one Science Chimp to another, I know you HAVE to know now.


cindyzlogic said...

Hey! Join the club...LOL. Great post!

Judy said...

The close-up of the egret is out of this world!!!

holly said...

It has been a month since you posted. Are you wandering the frozen tundra in search of some elusive bird?

dguzman said...

Man, you guys are the best.

I've been trying to get a Blackburnian (my favorite warbler) on film for like three years.... Nice.

And that last Magnolia photo--that's just plain stunning.