During the Biggest Week in American Birding, Dakota and I had the opportunity to take two brand new birders out for the first time. Our friends Brit and Kris (ages 14 and 12) decided to tag along for a day of extreme birding.
We took off around 6am. Our first stop was the Black Swamp Bird Observatory in northwest Ohio. We went inside to check out the see-out-but-not-in window. It is decked out with outdoor speakers, birdfeeders and of course, the bird magnet: a moving water source. White-crowned Sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles were all over the place, lifers for both girls. (They had seen blackbirds before, but never really SAW them.) As they watched, a Baltimore landed right in front of their faces and they gave me a look that was utterly PRICELESS.
Sometimes I forget how amazing the common birds are and this was a sweet reminder. The girls were more than ready to find some birds in the field after the oriole sighting. I am not sure what amazed them more…the number of other birders or the close-up of a Prothonotary Warbler!
After the boardwalk we walked the beach along Lake Erie and then birded over at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and finally hit the boardwalk again until we were ready to drop.
Brit and Kris each netted over 55 LIFE BIRDS and caught a serious birding bug. They have been pouring over bird books and asking questions since returning…this is how it starts folks! 🙂
A Few New Birder Highlights
1. Favorite bird of BOTH – the Balitmore Oriole – and they were everywhere!
2. Female Bald Eagle on her nest (a quest bird for Brit)!
3. Close-up of a Palm Warbler though a passer-by did not understand our excitement (boo! hiss!)
4. Red-winged Blackbirds!!!
5. Awesome views of a Northern Parula
6. Finding beach glass and a poor dead Double-crested Cormorant on the beach
7. An interesting birder with sound recording equipment…he had no shoes on!
8. Great Egrets, lots and lots of Great Egrets!!
9. Riding on the trunk (slowly) through the Ottawa NWR auto tour (shh!)
10. Eastern Screech-Owl close-up through a spotting scope.