Friday, October 21, 2011

Field Notes

Many birders keep field notes, recording not only what birds they’ve seen, and when, and where, but also jotting down detailed descriptions of the shape, plumage, flight, feeding habits, and other behaviors, of rare or interesting birds. The notes help them to sort out difficult identifications, track sightings over time, and keep a record of their birding activities.

As I’ve written before, I am a "listless" birder. And that works for me. But occasionally I do make field notes. My notes are probably rather, um, atypical. Here are some "field notes" that I collected over the past few months during trips afield.


Kestrel. Beautiful. Long wings. Slice the air.

White-throated Sparrow. Seed-crusher. Sweet song.

OMG. Peregrine. Flash in the sky, burst of feathers, one less dove.

Heron in the mist, winging over the trees that edge the river. Recalls to me [how?] ancient times. Breathe, breathe, look.

Merganser, shaggy crest, droplets on the beak. Diving ducks, how do they see in the murk? Bob up from a dive, look around, what panache. They know they're cool. Hey.

Listen, far away over the fields, a meadowlark whistles. Dwindling farmland, dwindling habitat, the rare clear whistle. Wish I could see the bird that offers the distant song.

Flickers, golden wings bounding through the air. Calling wicka wicka wicka through the woods. The pair meets on a branch, couples, calls softly, preens.

Blue jays everywhere. So aggressive around the feeders. But see how tenderly this couple feeds each other. Jay, jay, softly they call. Beeble beeble, the rarely heard song. Here is a seed for you.

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