Blog Birding #290


ABA Board member J. Drew Lanham, whose new memoir was published recently, offers an excerpt of the work focusing on the concerns of a black man birding in rural South Carolina at Literary Hub.

On mornings like this I sometimes question why I choose to do such things. Was I crazy to take this route, up here, so far away from anything? What if someone in that house is not so keen on having a black man out here, maybe checking out things-or people-he shouldn’t be? I’ve heard that some mountain folks don’t like nosy outsiders poking around. Yet here I am, a black man birding.

Dorian Anderson, he of The Speckled Hatchback, shares some thoughts about how observing bird behavior can help you be in a position to take better bird photographs.

I waited, and I waited some more.  Then some extra-special bonus waiting. There was a fair amount of foot and dog traffic just behind my vantage during all this waiting, so the sandpipers stayed on the far shore where I couldn’t photograph them as desired. Finally, after over an hour of waiting, one of the birds flew into the staked out area. There were loads of Mallards in that same corner so it was really tough to get an isolated shot of the sandpiper. Luckily, it found, for just a few moments, some clear space in between the ducks where I could get a shot of it without any duck photobombs. I had only a few seconds before another person came along and scared my subject away. Bummer, but I was able to walk out with that I consider to be a serviceable frame of the bird!

We’re coming up on hawkwatching season, and Luke Tiller, writing at 10,000 Birds, has a few things to say about why hawkwatching is so great.

As we roll into the middle of September, so we start to head into peak hawk migration in much of the country as Broad-winged Hawks wing their way south to spend their winter in the Amazon Basin. The migration of hawks can be up there with the most spectacular displays in birding, so If you live close enough to get to a hawkwatch and haven’t been to one yet, then you owe it to yourself plan a trip. There are whole regions of the country from the Great Lakes west to Nevada where official hawkwatching is essentially non-existent, due to lack of migration density, so If you live in one of the places it is possible to see this magical migration you need to grab that opportunity.

It’s also a fantastic time to look for jaegers (arguably raptors in their own right) from shore, as David La Puma shares at View from the Cape.

Tis the season when all three species of regularly-occurring Jaegers (Skuas for our friends across the Atlantic) vacate their breeding grounds on the Arctic tundra and flood down both coasts to spend their non-breeding life out at sea. Here in Cape May our most common jaeger seen from land is the Parasitic Jaeger (Pomarine are more often far offshore, and Long-tailed are simply rarer, but regularly encountered on offshore pelagic trips in small numbers).

Though the death of any individual animal rarely means anything to the population, we still feel empathy for the struggler. What does the death of a single bird teach us about our mortality and our connection to the earth. Devin Griffiths at A Symphony of Feathers explores.

There are many who believe that most-if not all-animals are driven purely by instinct, and lack emotions, self-awareness, or anything resembling inner lives. From a detached, intellectual perspective I suppose this is plausible. But get out and open your eyes to the world around you, your heart to the lives of those with whom we share it, and your mind to the breadth and depth of a non-human experience of it, and you’ll begin to appreciate that the scope of life is greater than our narrow human understanding of it.


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