Though breeding songbirds have essentially fallen silent, August can be a very enjoyable month for birding—and it can be enjoyed in very different ways. Shorebirds are sweeping through many birders’ home grounds. Some birders are waiting for migration to start and savoring the summer birds while they last. For others, migration is already in full swing. August can be a good month to bird on vacation, or perhaps at a young birder camp. Even if the hot weather keeps you inside, August can be an opportunity to brush up on ID skills for the fall, or even do a bit of research.
Not very many young birders took to the blogs in August, but of those who did, here are some highlights:
Lucas Bobay and Sam Jolly, coauthors of the fun new blog The Birder’s Conundrum, went to eBird to discover the highest number of birds ever reported by state, and which species made up the flock. What bird make up the largest flock in your state? Red-winged Blackbird alone won twelve states.
Chloe Walker, of Chloe’s Birding Blog, attended the ABA 2014 Camp Avocet, and began a report of her experiences at the camp, complete with several photos that would make anyone wish they were there.
Have you ever witnessed a mega-flock of birds? Perhaps it was thousands of Red-winged Blackbirds undulating above a field, or Snow Geese congregating before a long migration. eBird has a feature where users can observe the all-time high counts of all species within a given state. We used this feature to find what species had been seen in the highest numbers in that state at one point in time. For example, the report of 500,000 Sooty Shearwaters from Oregon was the largest flock of any species ever seen there (according to eBird data, which ranges from 1823-2014). We did this for each state and plotted the species on a map using our revolutionary Birder’s Conundrum mapmaking software.
At Fowler Beach (still part of Prime Hook) we flushed several sparrows but without satisfying looks. Our camp counselor George Armistead started pishing, and finally multiple Seaside Sparrows and one Saltmarsh Sparrow popped up and landed on a dead branch. The Saltmarsh Sparrow was a totally unexpected sighting, and it was my 314th lifer! Other than the sparrows, we had wonderful looks at Snowy Egrets, Glossy Ibises, Least Sandpipers, one Whimbrel, one Piping Plover, and much more.
Alex Burdo, on his blog Flight of the Scrub-Jay, begins chronicling his experiences this summer of some excellent birding on Cape Cod.
I could drone on for ages about why birds are such unique and splendid creatures, which I hope I have helped you realize now. Birds truly are amazing animals, whether it’s their undeniable beauty, their sonorous voices that enchant us, or even the simple fact that they have been able to adapt to a vast array of different habitats and can be found just about anywhere. Birds have fascinated me for eight years now, and my fascination I know will never cease to grow and will last with me for as long as I live. Although not everybody appreciates birds at the same level as birders do, I have a hunch that everybody has a soft spot for our feathered friends.
This combination of habitats regularly yields hourly totals of over thirty species, and always delivers a bevy of good birds. The yard list includes such highlights as Northern Bobwhite and Lesser Black-backed Gull (one of the former was seen strolling through our property last summer, while the latter was out on the flats of Barnstable Harbor). These birds display the draw that both the yard itself, and the surrounding area have for birds. I will definitely be devoting more time to this wonderful location in future posts.