For many birders, February is a month of waiting. After February, the snow will melt and the first Killdeers and American Woodcocks will usher in a parade of exciting spring migrants. In February, though, the birdlife remains decidedly wintry. While the harsh weather kept many birders indoors, many made the most of the local winter birding. Others found the month a good opportunity to reflect on past birding experiences or to ponder birding at large.
The cold didn’t stop Chloe Walker of Chloe’s Birding Blog from going on her first winter pelagic. Her trip proved to be a great experience:
As always, I greatly enjoyed my two days at sea, and I wish it had never ended! Nine pelagic lifers (and actually a Purple Sandpiper from land as well, bringing the total to ten) was more than I had ever dreamed. Most importantly, I gained more knowledge about bird identification, field marks, and sea life.
Lucas Bobay of Birding With Bobay decided that 2015 will be the year when he builds up his state list. A Thick-billed Murre has been just one of his many successes so far:
Close inspection revealed that it was decidedly not a Dovekie. This thing was way too big. And its bill was way too long. A scan of the field guide apps on our phones brought us to the conclusion that we were looking at a Thick-billed Murre, a species very rare this far south. The Birds of North Carolina website says that there are only around 20 records for the state. No wonder we didn’t know what it was!
Brendan Murtha, the author of Sterna & Such, analyzes the complex birding world of twitching:
Twitching is what happens when you combine birdwatching with road rage and with the quest for the holy grail. There is no rational thinking. There is no relaxing. There is just a lust for a certain bird, a need for it’s appearance in your life; as if the crossing of paths between you and this individual has long been written in the book of birding religion, and by missing it you are putting a black spot on your purity. Seriously. For many twitchers, missing the “bird of a lifetime” is akin to missing your siblings wedding. You can never live it down.
Aidan Place, the author of The Birding Place, reminisces about his experience at 2014 Camp Chiricahua, and some of the great birds that came with it:
After lunch, we headed towards the town of Rodeo, New Mexico, looking for birds along the road as we went. Not surprisingly, it was Michael O’Brien who spotted something good first. He had noticed and interesting looking thrasher along the side of the road in a derelict-looking playground. A few of us campers had noticed it as well but had mostly dismissed it as a curve-billed. However, as soon as we had pulled back around we realized that no, it was not just a curve-billed. In fact it was a Bendire’s thrasher!!
Now that spring is underway across the nation, it will be fun to see which birds the young birders find next!