Saturday, June 14, 2008

Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!

It seems that you can only have so much theoretical knowledge about birding and at some point have to actually get out there and look for a bird preferably with someone experienced--so after months of reading nature blogs and books on birding, FINALLY my schedule allowed me to participate in a field trip with the Stanton Bird Club

The club is in the Lewiston/Auburn area--about an hour to the southeast and the date has been marked on my calendar for months. At 3:30 a.m., I was wide awake and worried that the alarm would fail to go off at 5--so decided to head on down the road. In Western Maine the only ones on the road at dawn are the logging trucks and when I stopped at the Corner Store for coffee I had to navigate through a crowd of loggers getting their morning infusion of caffeine and gossip. As it was, I ended up being the first one in the parking lot at the Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary close to an hour before the scheduled meeting time. A little excited, maybe?

Over dinner the night before I had confided to Charlie that I was nervous about meeting new people and participating in a new activity--"Do you think they will laugh at me?" "Do you think birders are very judgmental?" He assuaged my fears and assured me that I would have a wonderful time but no, he didn't want to come along.

So, the folks were really nice and not judgmental at all--they didn't laugh at my shiny new copy of Birds of Eastern and Central North America nor did they roll their eyes when I struggled with my binoculars. They helped me learn how to use my binoculars and patiently helped me locate the birds. Most of the birding was done by ear and they assured me that birding by ear was a skill that should be acquired slowly. So I listened and learned. The birds weren't all just sounds in the forest, though. We spotted two pileated woodpeckers high up in a dead tree. I could have stood and watched them all day.
We also saw a common yellow throat warbler, a eastern phoebe, a brilliant indigo bunting, a tree swallow, a brown creeper and a black and white warbler. There were a few more that I didn't see or didn't see well so I'm not counting them. I decided I would only count them if I would recognize them again.

As I was driving home at 10 a.m. after four hours in the woods (how does that work?) my mom called and asked me to stop by and take a picture of a beautiful poppy blooming in her garden. It was indeed spectacular. What a beautiful morning!


KGMom said...

I need some training in birding by ear. I am always hearing birds--then looking looking to try to figure out what they are. If only I could id them by ear!
Lovely poppy!

beckie said...

Beth, I am so glad you participated in a bird outing. I hope it is something you will come to love. Did you start your life list? I think after the outing, I would have gone home and taken a nap.:) Your Mom's poppy is beautiful. Do you know what kind it is? It does sound like a beautiful morning!

Ruth said...

Good for you!I wish there were outings like this in our area. This evening I was in a meadow and heard such a variety of birds, but I could not ID most of them. You saw some great birds.

Kathiesbirds said...

Oh, Beth, how wonderful! We all have to start somewhere. Sounds like a great day to me! I have yet to see a black and white warbler. I'm glad you saw the brown creeper. I saw my frist one in Maine. I think they are such sweet and amusing birds! Pileated woodpeckers fascinate me due to their large size, showy plumage and the fact that they remind me of the Ivory Bill which is pretty much lost to us now. When I am out birding, 4 hours goes by in a flash! And, I have a beautiful feeling, everything's going you way...

Beth said...

KGmom, it is amazing--they heard sounds that I was not even hearing--it took stillness and concentration to hear all of the subtleties. There's probably a lesson in that alone.

Beckie, thanks! yes I did start a life list on e-bird. I'm being careful about only putting things on that I'm sure about and feel like I can identify again so it doesn't have much on it--but I have lots of life left--I hope!

Ruth, it was actually some advice you gave in a comment one time that made me seek out a group so I could go birding with an experienced birder. So, thank you!

Kathie, They were all cute! I honestly can't get over those pileated woodpeckers, through the binoculars I could see their feathery heads and they looked like something left over from the stoneage. The common yellow warbler was another one that I wanted to cuddle.

The Texican said...

I think birding is the perfect complimentary hobby to your mountain climbing. It will just mean a little more gear with the book and the binoculars. :)

Jayne said...

How fun Beth! So proud for you. Now, you need to rub off on me! I have yet to make that leap and go on an outing. Sounds like a great group of people.

Linda Seamans said...

Hi Beth,
I'm so glad you enjoyed the bird walk on Saturday. I've been actively birding with the Stanton group for nearly a year, and have really enjoyed EVERY outing. If you'd like the trip results (list of birds we heard and saw), let me know ( and I'll send you directions to get on the Stanton List Serve. I'm the lady with the long dark hair (one of the two sisters on the trip). Welcome!

Mary said...


I took my first tour with a beginner's group last Fall. Like you, I was very nervous but knowing everyone else were novices, I felt better about it. Since then, I have met some experienced birders and they are all so helpful! Occasionally there are a few hard core birders that can be snobby - I just stay quiet around them. Now I'm to the point where I can locate a bird by listening, or pishing. Very cool!

You saw a great many birds and your tour ended early enough to enjoy the rest of the day!


TheElementary said...

I'm glad you were finally able to do this.
Anything that helps you to meet a good group of people is a worthwhile venture and you get to go outdoors. Who could ask for more?
I remember that video you posted a while back about the most amazing birds found in a jungle, untouched by humans. That was amazing too.

Naturegirl said...

Beth I was in Arizona for the winter and struggled to get images of birds
throughout the day so one day I woke up ((((very early))) and went out scouting and was delighted to run into fellow birders who all shared tips and sitings!! Happy birding!
A fellow Nature lover!

Dan said...

Hi Beth.
Linda Seamans sent me a link to your blog. I'm glad you had a good time with our group. Thorncrag is such a wonderful place. I wasn't able to make it for that trip, but I go there every chance I get. You saw some great birds too. To get an Indigo Bunting on your first outing is amazing. And the Pileated Woodpeckers are always great. And I hold a special place in my heart for the Common Yellowthroat; that is the bird that got me excited about birding 20 years ago. I suspect that one of your sightings on this trip will be the same for you.
I hope you'll continue to join us as often as you can, and I look forward to meeting you on a future trip (I don't miss many).

Dan Marquis
Field Trip Coordinator
Stanton Bird Club

Larry said...

Sounds like your first birding trip went very well.Most birders are really nice.-If you continue with birding you may run into a few killjoys but that's true in any aspect of life.-It must have been fun to watch the Pileated Woodpeckers.