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Showing posts from March, 2011

March [gull] Madness

Today is the first day of the NCAA basketball tournament, also known as March Madness. Or as I like to call it, the best day of the year. But this time of year marks the start of a different month-long event along the CT coast - the coastal gull show. For the next few weeks, gulls will likely congregate in large numbers (in the thousands) along the central and western coasts, where in recent years a large plankton concentration/bloom has occurred from March into early April. These gull numbers, impressive in their own right, sometimes include rarities. 2009's finds included a "Common" Mew and probable Thayer's Gull. Anything is possible. For more info on this event over the past couple years, click HERE . - NB

Comparisons of closely-related Western taxa: Sage Sparrow ssp, Savannah Sparrow ssp, Scrub-Jays, Aechmophorus grebes

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While birding southern California last month I was able to study some interesting closely-related taxa. Below are some side-by-side comparisons with a few of my better digiscoped photos. Note: ALL photos below were taken during the month of February ("Belding's" Savannah Sparrow from Feb 2010 and the rest from Feb 2011). Click to enlarge. "Interior" Sage Sparrow ( Amphispiza belli nevadensis group) vs. "Bell's" Sage Sparrow ( Amphispiza belli belli ) "Interior" Sage Sparrow near Borrego Springs, CA (Feb 2011) and "Bell's" Sage Sparrows near Pine Valley, CA (Feb 2011) Sage Sparrow is comprised of several subspecies, often divided into the two groups "Bell's" and "Interior." "Bell's" is the largely-resident coastal Pacific group while "Interior" birds are widespread between the Rocky Mountains and California. Multiple subspecies make up the "Interior" gr

How modern technology saved my birding in SoCal

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Once or twice before I've written about the usefulness of smartphones while birding. I personally own an iPhone (currently the iPhone 4 on AT&T) and use it nearly every time I'm in the field. Usually it's just to check CTBirds reports to see if anything really good has been reported. But the iPhone has many, many more uses for birders. I'll use my recent trip to Southern California as a prime example because never before had I needed to rely so heavily on the device. My original itinerary was: 2/17 - Pine Valley for Bell’s Sage Sparrow, Salton Sea for the rest of the day 2/18 - Santa Cruz Island (via boat) 2/19 - Los Angeles for Spotted Dove & Red-crowned Parrot, Mount Pinos for White-headed Woodpecker -OR- Santa Cruz Island if the previous day's boat trip was canceled 2/20 - Inyokern for Le Conte’s Thrasher, Onyx for Williamson's Sapsucker if time allows (not a high priority) and Bakersfield for Spotted Dove if still needed then drive back to San Diego

Birders'-only Fantasy Baseball league

For any baseball lovers out there, Scott Kruitbosch of Stratford, CT and I are putting together a fantasy baseball league for birders this season. I had this idea toward the end of last season when I found myself discussing fantasy sports with multiple local birders. Thankfully Scott has taken on the role of commissioner to officially get the league started. We've filled most of the spots with local friends, but we still have a few spaces remaining as of this writing. We're opening things up to anyone interested in playing. If you'd like to play, email me (you can get my email address from my Blogger profile) and let me know. There's no cash at stake here, just bragging rights. Also, just for fun, we'll make the results of the league public. I'll provide periodic updates via this blog for those very, very few of you who would care to know :) - Nick