This week, I started an ornithology class offered by a science and nature center in my area. Up until this point, most of what I’ve learned about birds has been through my photography–taking pictures when I’m out and then researching the birds when I get home. I do want to start to branch out a bit and tap into the incredibly vast amounts of knowledge that long-time birders have. Today was the first field trip for the class, and it did not disappoint.
Boy, those birders can find the birds! I really can’t think of a previous time when I saw so many different birds in one day. Well, maybe I did, but I probably didn’t realize it because there wasn’t an expert with me to point them all out. We ended up going to two different locations in town. We saw a total of 10 species at the first location: Mallard, Canvasback, Greater Scaup, Long-Tailed Duck, Common Goldeneye, Ring-Billed Gull, Rock Pigeon (I missed that one), American Crow, Black-Capped Chickadee, and American Robin. We saw a total of 23 species at the second stop: Mute Swan, Trumpeter Swan, American Black Duck (I missed that one), Mallard, Redhead, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser (I don’t think I saw this one), Red-necked Grebe, American Coot, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow (I missed this one), White-throated Sparrow, and a Northern Cardinal.
I didn’t get a ton of great pictures–many of the birds were too far away and my pictures are certainly OK for identifying the birds, but not clear and focused. But I did get some shots I love. Here are a couple of the swans:
These are Trumpeter Swans, and after hearing their French-horn sounding call, I now know why.
There were a number of geese that the class leaders referred to as farm geese. I’m assuming this just means that they originated from domestic geese and are hybrids of some type.
I thought these geese were very pretty.
I also got a decent shot of a male Hooded Merganser:
One of the birds I really loved that I haven’t seen before was the American Coot. The American Coot is a Rail–a small marsh bird.
Look at those feet! I’m going back to get a better picture of this guy–he was adorable.
I’m looking forward to the remaining 7 weeks of the class. I’m sure there are many more new-to-me birds to see, and the weather is just going to get better and better! This will be fun.