Rules for the World Series of Birding

I went out today and did a bit of scouting for the World Series of Birding and went over the rules with Clay Taylor for our team: Swarovski Digiscoping Hawks. It's an okay team name, but I'm having some major envy of the team named Blue Oystercatcher Cult.

We have to try and photograph as many species as possible in a twenty-four hour period. The photos do not have to be printable or even blogable, but the bird in the photo must be identifiable.

A regular WSoB team would be able to count species heard and seen. We can only count what we photograph. I wondered if we could use the possibility of digivideoing. For example, we were hearing clapper rails all over the place, could I take a digivideo with the scope and pick up the audio of the call? Clay says "no" we can only photograph. Fortunately, one of the clapper rails came out of the reeds and I was able to get a photo...let's hope it's that easy this Saturday during the actual event.

These are some of the other general rules that just made chuckle:

A sick, injured, or oiled bird counts--as long as it's alive. However, eggs do not count...unless you see the parent bird.

To avoid disturbing a raptor nest, a team that knows the location of a nest where flushing an adult is possible does not have to see the actual nest. On the day of the competition (and if the species was seen simultaneously by two people from the team during some scouting the week ahead) the team can park in close proximity during daylight hours and wait inside or beside the vehicle for as long as it would have taken for all members to get to the nest...the team must wait a minimum of five minutes.

During the competition, a team cannot find birding help from other resources like birding hotlines, listservs, or any other general alert via phone, pda, or computer. So, Non Birding Bill can send me text messages saying how much he loves and misses me or that he sees a Nashville warbler outside the bedroom window, but he would not be allowed to send me a text reading that a wood stork was found a Higbee Beach. Further, if my team is out and we encounter other birders--even if they are not part of the competition, we cannot ask them, "Seen any good birds?" Now, there is a provision if we accidentally hear about something. For example, if Clay and I were walking by a group not involved with the competition was walking past us and one of them exclaimed loudly to her group, "Oh my! I can't believe I got my lifer blue tit outside the Lighthouse in Cape May!" we could use that information.

Now, what if a team found an eskimo curlew and it was just too exciting of a bird and such a once in a lifetime event that all the other teams should know? Well, it would be okay to tell us and it would b okay for us to hear that information...however, if we went to see the eskimo curlew, it would not be countable for our team because we didn't find it on our own. This is known as the "Outlaw Birds" clause.

Wacky stuff, but if you're going to have a competition, you need to have rules. You can read the full rules and guidelines here.

While doing some scouting, I noticed these two laughing gulls. They started perched on the roof of a shelter and then started fighting each other. A few flaps and then they stayed locked in this position for about eight minutes (yes, I timed it).

The gull on the left that is stuck in the bill hold did not move to much. I wondered if it was nervous about having the sharp tip of the attacker's bill so close to the eye? Just I started to wonder aloud just how long this would last...

In flew a fish crow that flushed the gulls. I don't think it was an altruistic motive to keep peace in the bird neighborhood. I think the crow wondered if the birds were fighting over some food and if it could steal the food during the fight. There didn't appear to be food, but it was an interesting interaction that once again leaves me with questions rather than answers.

I hope I was awake enough for during this entry to only have five typos instead of two dozen.