Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Day 11: (bird) Clubbing

Nahanton Park, Newton, and downtown Newton Highlands 8:45am-11:30am
wispy clouds, mostly clear and sunny

This morning I took my inaugural birdwalk with the Brookline Bird Club!

The most important lesson today: Binoculars are essential for birding.
This is how real birders avoid the stiff neck -- they watch from afar, through binoculars. It's perfect for seeing identifying details, though you don't hear as well from that distance. (Has anyone invented an audio equivalent? bin-auditories?)

Woefully unequipped, I spent the morning squinting at distant silhouettes and birdlike shapes - practically indistinguishable from one another - though the birders with binoculars identified many, including a ruby-throated this and a purple that.

I was also kindly informed by one birder that it's The Wrong Time of Year for my project. Just as I suspected!! It's almost a relief to have it confirmed: the birds will sing for real come spring. I'm already plotting A Bird a Day II for Spring 2011.

For now, the adventure is in the quest!

Didn't get any good audio on the bird walk, though it is kinda fun to hear the bird observers murmuring. Here's a taste, listen for the excited crescendo upon spotting a good one:

The birders were all very welcoming and friendly, and somebody's grandson beat me by some 20+ years as the youngest participant.

Ironically, it was on the way home, just off the busy main drag of Newton Highlands, that I found my bird of the day, whose extremely-varied calls were echoing off the asphalt and the nearby church walls. (The occasional cracking sound is some kids playing baseball in their front yard)

He was already very loquacious here, hidden in a leafy tree:

Then flew to the top of a large tree, and built into quite an energetic climax:

I'm hoping one of my new birder friends can help identify him: he had white strips underneath black-tipped wings, long tail, and was otherwise rather gray-looking while perched.

*UPDATE 10/20: This bird has been identified as a Northern Mockingbird. Thanks to Daryn and Haynes!


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