Friday, July 02, 2010

Learning Somethig New

I am ignorant about all but the most common birds. I have been walking in the marsh every morning and feeling bad about scaring the "plovers" who have nestlings. They scream at me and fly in circles and sometimes swoop fairly close. They want me out of there. Talking about this to a friend this week, she said, "They could be terns. Terns often nest in the same places plovers do. Do they have round or flatish heads?" I didn't know. She's a native of the area and can merely glance out my window and say, "Sweet little wren." To me it was an LBB [little brown bird]. I went to an old bird book and looked at drawings of plovers and they didn't really look like the birds I've been seeing. I looked at the terns, and they looked a little more like the birds. Then I went to Google for photos and neither one looked much like the birds I've been seeing.

Today I took my binoculars and tried to really, truly look at the birds -- they like to pause on a pier not too far away from the path. I'm sure any competent birder could recognize all kinds of identifying marks. All I really could tell was that they have longer beaks, I think, than plovers, they were almost entirely brown and they don't really have white bellies. When they spread their wings and fly, they have a white "stripe' across their wings and more white on their tail feathers. None of the birds in the bird book looked quite like that. The top bird here is a flying sanderling [from Google]and has the markings I just tried to describe. The second picture is a plover and doesn't seem to be what I see. The photos I found of terns were all white and the birds I see are light brown when they stand still and then show the white when they fly. I'm confused.

I go to the ocean side of my spit of land and I KNOW I'm looking at gulls. I know there are different kinds but these are all the same kind, the crab catching kind at 8:30 in the morning.


Ladydy5 aka: Diane Yates said...

We can ALWAYS learn something new. Interesting bit of birding there,.

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