Flight Of The Pine Siskins! ‘Bird Is The Word’ Blog #72! I’ve been at this birding thing for a few years now, oh maybe 6 or 7. It’s hard to remember when I was just starting to turn my attention to birds to when it became pretty much all I want to do all the time. Getting out in nature and enjoying the birds became a really big thing in my life!
The first bunch of entries of the ‘Bird Is The Word’ blog were about random days out and the birds I came to find. I like that format. I’d get home, empty my memory card into my computer with my newest photographs, input them into the blog and write about what had just occurred. By chance it could be filled with exciting finds. There’s also a chance it could be filled with days that didn’t yield amazing results. That’s all part of birding. I’ve always stressed that to really enjoy birding you wouldn’t want to start taking for granted the more common birds for the illustrious and rare. But in the last few months there has been quite a bit of “chasing” the aforementioned illustrious and rare birds.
I remember when I first started birding that I didn’t understand the the point of chasing a rare species. I was just happy as long as there was some birds around. Finding a mob of seasoned birders that would respond to a simple honest question as “Hi, What are you looking at? and being met with a harsh reply… “A bird”wasn’t too endearing. Obviously the 40 people carrying scopes, and cameras and binoculars where looking at or for a bird. Why the attitude though? It only made it easier to embrace that it was a healthier vocation to just get out in nature and see whatever you are lucky enough to see.
When I started the blog it just so happened to be when I really started to get some headway at finding our migrating warblers. Each day out it seemed would tick a new life-list warbler, each one as beautiful as you could imagine. It was imperative I had my camera switched on at all times, as I was, and very much still very much am, honing my identification abilities. I needed to snap a picture of almost every bird to study later or show a better birder than I the photo to find out what the bird was. Out of respect for that process I’d always make a point to look that bird up on one of my guides and study up. My goal was to not need help, but the learning curve is certainly a bit steep especially in the beginning and there are always birds and plumage’s that can humble you and even challenge the best birders.
Thanks to the internet and the community of birdwatchers there is intel to follow in the form of Rare Bird Alerts, lists of sightings and resources like Ebird. When a rare bird is found many times the location is shared and many people can be clued in to an area with a pretty good chance of finding it. I try to share my sightings and information too, I want to make someones day if I can, the way they’ve made my day many times!
So I guess I can tell even from just reading my own blog that I’ve been chasing a lot of species. And…it’s been amazing! I love seeing a new species of bird and I think most birders share that passion. The last few posts have been about some pretty rarefied air sightings and additions to my life list. Northern Wheatear, Evening Grosbeak, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, Purple Gallinule, American Bittern, Virginia Rail, Sora, Marbled Godwit and Western Sandpiper. Seeing these birds are all thanks to the community of birders networking and listing their sightings and I guarantee you I wouldn’t have seen hardly any of them without the generosity and extra effort from fellow birders. Let me formally state here a big Thank You to them!! While I never stop visiting my favorite places, enjoying each and every bird, and always hoping to unearth a cool species I can potentially share with the community of birders, the rare birds, and the chase has been a big part of this blog lately.
And Well… another Double Whammy almost happened again last weekend! I awoke to a report of a rare bird at the beach. A Gray Kingbird. A cool looking bird with a heavy black beak. The only Kingbird we are really supposed to get around here is the Eastern Kingbird. Then there was the Western Kingbird that popped in for a visit in the summertime. Could this work also out favorably? Could I take a 20 minute car ride, park, find a group of birders watching this bird and see it for myself as well? The answer this time was no. Determined to put in the time and effort to give myself a chance on this bird I stuck around a few hours in the nasty cold and wind. However it just was not to be. I still had a great time seeing some friendly birders that I know and just being there. It sure was cold though!
Out of habit I checked the bird sightings list again while out walking the beach and a friend had posted about some Pine Siskins that were only about 10 minutes away. I’ve always wanted to see one and I just never had the luck! This year seems to be a good one for finches coming to New York and I was determined to not miss out. Taking a cue from my lack of luck on the Gray Kingbird, I headed down to try for the Pine Siskins. Upon arriving and slowly scanning over the ample vegetation in the area I started hearing some different bird songs. This must be them! Then visually I caught quick glimpses of fast moving, erratic birds diving into the vegetation. Suddenly the whole flock picked up at once and I was in awe to hear them and see them. Soon after they came back to the same spot and fed right out in the open in front of me! It was nearing sunset and quite windy but I managed a few photos:
The next day was supposed to be better weather and I made a promise to myself that I would go back. Would the birds still be there? There sure was a lot of food for them! I had my fingers crossed. On first look it didn’t seem promising but they sure were there and I was in all my glory taking picture after picture and enjoying these wonderful finches. They have a certain jovial presence about them. They seemed to be having fun! The wind would whip them around as they fed and they just went with it, bobbing up and down like mad while they ate to their hearts content. They’d feed for quite a while and then suddenly vocalize and fly away a few feet, usually being joined by another bird or two in their flock. The weather was a little nicer, the wind was not as strong and the light was a bit better and I had a blast taking pictures of these guys and didn’t ever want to leave hahaha! I love that yellow stripe on the wings! Here is some video < siskins >
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