Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stealing Time for Birding

I still haven’t responded to Paul’s challenge of a big day of birding in April, but oh I will. The problem is that I don’t have a free day for probably another two weeks. This may change, of course, but between work, stay-at-home father things, a board game auction (don't ask), and children’s activities, I have pretty much something going on every day of the week including weekends.

That means that all this birding I’ve been doing has all been somewhat tucked away within my schedule when I have time. Morning trips to the Heinz Wildlife Refuge on the weekend? I can do those if the weather cooperates and if my kids don’t have anything scheduled before lunch and if I don’t work that day, and even then I can only do that if I sacrifice my one sleep in day of the weekend (of course I happily sacrifice sleep to get a few hours out by myself to go birding and hiking in nature). And any weekday trips can only occur after my older kids are off to school and after my youngest takes a nap, but before my older ones get back from school.

I have to take stolen moments to go birding. Stolen days take careful and long range planning, but I will do one this month.

I am lucky for a bunch of reasons, but being near so many good places to go and working at a good spot are two great reasons for my year list. But that got me thinking: does working at the DuPont Environmental Education Center really help me with my list? Sure, I see stuff there, but would I see those anyway?

Let’s look at the data!

Damon’s bird sightings from his work that were added to his list:
-Fish Crow
-Bald Eagle
-Great Black Backed Gull
-Common Merganser
-Wood Duck
-Great Egret
-Greater Yellowlegs
-Northern Harrier

Eight (8) birds that I’ve seen while at work, not bad. But I’ve spotted Fish Crows, Bald Eagles, Common Merganser, Wood Ducks, Great Egrets, and Greater Yellowlegs in a few other places this year. I know I’ve seen the Great Black Back Gull, but can’t remember actually spotting it somewhere else. I have not spotted a Northern Harrier at all anywhere else and, in fact, that was a first on my (albeit paltry and spottily maintained) life list!

But that isn’t horrible, with only one individual species spotted at my work, because those other seven species spotted help make it easier on my list. Sure, I see Bald Eagles all the time anymore, but I need to actually see them to put them on and I am pretty much guaranteed seeing them at work (not the last two times though!). And being able to watch the Greater Yellowlegs through a high powered spotting scope there allowed me to quickly and easily identify not only them, but also the Lesser Yellowlegs that was hanging out near them at another location.

Having that extra ability to see birds from work allows me to allot my preciously few stolen hours to go birding in more specific and targeted spots, like trips to New Castle, Delaware to find those damn Brants that are always listed there in eBirds.

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