Monday, July 23, 2012

Summer Fun at Bombay Hook

This past week the crew at CRFRS took a trip to Bombay Hook in Delaware as a reward for all of their hard work this summer. As we got our things together to start the trip I remembered how exciting it is to go out with a big group and learn together. For many in the crew this was a brand new experience. All the scopes were loaded into the car, binoculars were cleaned up and placed around necks, and Sibley (bird guide) was featured prominently on the dash. Then off we went! On the way into the reserve we were already hearing and seeing plenty of birds, so we knew that it was going to be a good day.
Shorebirds covered the mudflats at Bombay Hook
We arrived at the first pond and set up our scopes. “Rachel can you count the Dowitchers? I’ve got the Semi’s,” Banding intern Amanda Spears said to me as we scanned the pond. Every August Bombay Hook fills up with thousands of shorebirds that are experiencing migration. Many of these birds are among the farthest travelers of any animal. Some of them will have flown up to Alaska to breed and are on their way to South America to winter, and for that one day we were able to witness a part of their journey. “I’ve got a Western (Western Sandpiper) over here,” field ecologist Dan Small said as he looked through his spotting scope. As the interns were learning (and I was beginning to remember) one of the great joys of shore birding is looking through huge groups of birds to try and pick out that one that might be different. Unless you know what you’re looking for Semipalmated and Western Sandpipers look practically identical. We were interested in looking through the flocks to test our identification skills and learn new tricks. As I continued counting Short-Billed Dowitchers, I could hear Dan giving birding tips to the interns and showing them examples of what he looks for when identifying shorebirds.
The interns were learning some new birding techniques!
“Anybody counted those Snowy Egrets yet?” Maren Gimpel, field ecologist, asked. We were taking time to note each species and count each individual so that we could submit the data to an online database called “eBird.”  eBird provides birders an opportunity to keep their own records while simultaneously contributing to a record of bird sightings for the entire country. After our trip, Amanda carefully entered all of the birds we saw and submitted them to the eBird database. These data are then reviewed by the people at eBird and uploaded to the web. By putting the information on the web other birders can also access the information and see where/what time of year other birders have had exciting finds. By the time we left we’d seen a good variety of birds and some pretty exciting ones too! The interns got a fun introduction to birding and we’re so grateful for all their hard work this summer.
Maren Gimpel consults a bird book
To take a look at some of the birds we saw at Bombay Hook take a look at our eBird checklist

No comments:

Post a Comment