Sunday, May 02, 2010

Old-school birding (kinda) and a lifer!

I am still without camera and binoculars, so I went birding old-school style today, using mostly my plain old eyes and ears as well as my spotting scope. I've determined it's tough to bird with just a spotting scope unless you're looking at water birds.

I'd been seeing local listserv reports of Vesper Sparrows out in the fields and farms south of State College, so I drove out there despite an on-and-off drizzle. A Vesper Sparrow would be a lifer for me, so I was really anxious to see one. There were also reports of American Pipits, but as I rolled along Nixon Road I heard only Northern Cardinals, American Crows, Bluejays, Killdeers, and... wait -- yes, indeed! I heard that crazy "two slurs, then a warble" (as described on the Stokes CDs)! I knew I was in the right place!

It took a while, but I was finally able to find one in the scope. This guy came right up to me, giving me gorgeous views; they're really beautiful little birds. Here's an online image I found at a beautiful site by South Dakota photographer Terry Sohl:That's lifer #265!

Here's a list of birds I saw:
Turkey Vulture
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)
Blue Jay
American Crow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Vesper Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
American Goldfinch
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

It was frustrating trying to find birds without binocs; one of my good birding friends Hillel went without binoculars for a long time, and I really don't know how he did it! Like I said, when you're checking out shorebirds or marsh birds, who stay relatively still for long periods, it's great having the scope to really zoom in. But try finding a warbler or a sparrow in a tree with a big old scope? Boy howdy, it's tough. Maybe with practice it gets easier. But I miss my Leupolds! And if I'd had my camera, I'd have gotten a great photo of that little Vesper Sparrow, posing for me and singing his little song.


Matty Boy said...

What happened to your stuff? If you need binocs, I'd be glad to send you mine.

dguzman said...

I left it in Maryland when AB and I visited some friends, and I'm still waiting for them to mail it all back to me.