Okay, got my two articles sent off! Whoot. This morning I bailed on my scheduled trip and just drove out on my own. I love going in groups and sharing the birding experience, but I really needed a day away to bird without a group dynamic. I did a quick stop to South Padre Island and had some fun with some laughing gulls. There's something just so fun about feeding gulls. The above photo was taken right outside my minivan window with no zoom.
The gulls were coming from far and wide for bits of sausage. I ran out of sausage and grabbed some tasty chocolate chip cookies that WildBird on the Fly made:
Tonight we listened to JeffGyr give the talk as the keynote speaker for the Rio Grande Valley Bird Fest. It was his "top ten birds of the last thirty years". The first part was just amazing birds that popped up in North America, the last part was focused more on birds that have caused HUGE controversy. He even brought up the infamous pygmy nuthatch incident from 1996.
Pygmy Nuthatch Incident Sidebar: In 1996, a pygmy nuthatch was visiting a bird feeder in North Dakota right on the Red River border to Minnesota. One intrepid birder played a pygmy nuthatch call and got the bird to fly across the river and become the first Minnesota state record. This lead to huge amounts of debate: you shouldn't call birds, why can't you use calls to attract birds--the nuthatch was visiting a bird feeder and that's as artificial as taped calls, it wasn't a natural movement into the state, it was only a couple of dozen feet the bird flew over to get to the other side of the river it's no big deal, blah, blah, blah.
Jeff added a nice touch of what Minnesota Ornithologists' Union Records Committee meetings are like and showed footage of a cowboy shootout, a huge bar brawl, sword fighting, Civil War battles--it was hilarious and a tad accurate.
The talk wound down to the ivory-billed woodpecker of course. As Jeff was showing the footage of the Lunneau video, I was thinking to the first time I saw it last year at the Rio Grande fest and how I was excited and full of hope and couldn't wait for the adventure of going to Arkansas. Now watching the footage again and being slowed down I was a tad jaded and depressed--we didn't have better footage to show for it yet, I truly thought it would be different this year, hope can be so fleeting sometimes. Plus, watching the slow motion of the wing beats on the video compared to a pileated woodpecker reminded me of the whole "back and to the left" of the Kennedy assassination. Come on, Florida, get us a GOOD photo.
The talk was interesting, but I truly enjoyed listening to all the birding controversies best. I told Jeff he should do a book on it, fascinating stuff. I must get to bed, we're banding tomorrow.
Oh, so I tried out a Swarovski digiscoping set up today...I realized that I have never truly digiscoped, I only think I have digiscoped, I've been faking it until now. Here's a preview: