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Lily Valley

BIRDS (and how to look at them)

262 posts in this topic

10 hours ago, Hereward said:

I saw my first Swallows of the year yesterday, which was nice. Also, I saw a mystery bird, and still cannot ID it. Normally, I would guess that my mind was playing tricks after a fleeting glimpse, but I followed this duck down the river for at least half a mile and had excellent and repeated views through by binoculars. I suppose it must have been an escaped exotic or a hybrid of some sort. Still, very frustrating.

@Xray the Enforcer  THE PURPLE MARTINS ARE BACK IN THEIR HOUSE   *****AND**** I BROUGHT MY BINOCULARS!  I am so buying a lottery ticket after work.  This NEVER coincides.

7 hours ago, Hereward said:

What goes on on the riverbank, stays on the riverbank.

:rofl:  FREEAKIN MALLARDS!

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1 hour ago, Lily Valley said:

@Xray the Enforcer  THE PURPLE MARTINS ARE BACK IN THEIR HOUSE   *****AND**** I BROUGHT MY BINOCULARS!  I am so buying a lottery ticket after work.  This NEVER coincides.

 

NICE. I had half a mind to chase a Barn Owl that had been spotted in Central Park (first record since...2004?) this morning, but then I decided I wanted a martini more so I came home. Gin >>>>>>>>>>>>>> birbs (at least for today). Going to do some serious birding this weekend though. 

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23 minutes ago, Xray the Enforcer said:

NICE. I had half a mind to chase a Barn Owl that had been spotted in Central Park (first record since...2004?) this morning, but then I decided I wanted a martini more so I came home. Gin >>>>>>>>>>>>>> birbs (at least for today). Going to do some serious birding this weekend though. 

They didn't stay!  There's a SPARROW in one of the apartments.  He is NOISY and his NEST IS TAKING UP EVERYTHING.  :(  I am very said, the martins are so beautiful and I love their song.

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1 hour ago, Lily Valley said:

They didn't stay!  There's a SPARROW in one of the apartments.  He is NOISY and his NEST IS TAKING UP EVERYTHING.  :(  I am very said, the martins are so beautiful and I love their song.

It can take awhile for a colony to establish. If not this year, then maybe next?

 

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11 hours ago, Xray the Enforcer said:

It can take awhile for a colony to establish. If not this year, then maybe next?

 

I was reading about caring for their houses and the terrible things sparrows will do to martin colonies.  :(  I don't think I'm cut out for that kind of heartache.  I thought this was a NICE hobby where I could feed birds and LOOK at them.  I wound up in a CESSPOOL!!!  WHAT HAVE YOU DRAGGED ME INTO??????

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2 hours ago, Lily Valley said:

I was reading about caring for their houses and the terrible things sparrows will do to martin colonies.  :(  I don't think I'm cut out for that kind of heartache.  I thought this was a NICE hobby where I could feed birds and LOOK at them.  I wound up in a CESSPOOL!!!  WHAT HAVE YOU DRAGGED ME INTO??????

A feathery intrigue of blood, horror, and yolk!  Entire generations of eggs put to the beak to satisfy domestic ambitions!

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Posted (edited)

On 11.4.2018 at 0:02 PM, Xray the Enforcer said:

I can ask my friends who are bird guides (e.g. people who lead bird walks and bird tours for a living) which ones they use. Mind, those books will be in English, so you'll probably have to either look for translations, or get in contact with a local bird guide or birding group to get the local vernacular names. Digging around, I've seen multiple glowing reviews of this field guide: https://www.amazon.com/Collins-Bird-Guide-Lars-Svensson/dp/0007268149 and here's a link to the app: http://collinsbirdguideapp.com/ 

BTW, I always recommend getting an actual physical book in addition to any apps -- it's much easier to flip through and start seeing similarities between birds within a family or genus, which will help your birding ID skills. 

Thank you @Xray the Enforcer! Indeed it seems that "The Svensson" is universally recommended. (There is a German edition. You are right, otherwise the names will be confusing. For example, by "white swan" I meant "mute swan". Looks like resorting to the Latin name is less common than in, say, plant lover circles.) I'm just afraid it's a little bit overkill for me, particularly lugging it around everywhere. So unless your friends have other recommendations, I might choose another "Svensson" first. The drawings are said to be not as good, but it's available as a pocket book. The original version is called "Philip's GUide to Birds of Britain and Europe": https://www.amazon.de/s/ref=a9_sc_1?rh=i%3Aenglish-books%2Ck%3Aphilip's+guide+to+birds+of+britain+and+europe&keywords=philip's+guide+to+birds+of+britain+and+europe&ie=UTF8&qid=1523559559

Sounds good?

I prefer real books anyway, I'm old-fashioned.

PS: SOrry, wonky keyboard.

Edited by Mindwalker

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Posted (edited)

I try to avoid taking physical books into the field whenever possible. For me, the best combo is a book, an app, and possibly a tablet app of the same publication. I study the physical book/field guide at home; I use the phone app when actively out in the field birding, and I use the iPad app while at the bar just after birding to confirm IDs, make a list, etc. The Sibley Guide to Birds of North America is my go-to field reference: it has all three versions of the publication available for both Android and iOS. But I also use Kenn Kaufman's field guides at home as study material. 

It gets a little dicier when traveling to another country -- lots of countries don't have good digital versions of their field guides. Like, I was lugging around two enormous books when birding in Colombia (at the time, the ONLY two field guides available, and one was out of print so I paid a fortune for my Hilty) because I had no other options. A third field guide to Colombia was just published YESTERDAY and I hope they'll make an app version in addition to the hard copy. 

Edited by Xray the Enforcer

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On 11.4.2018 at 7:01 PM, Seli said:

I tend to use paper books, for the reasons Xray already mentioned and because I grew up with them. I do prefer particular lay-outs and the presence of distribution maps in my guides, but that is personal taste.

The aforementioned Lars Svensson has a Dutch edition, which I believe is nice. Another one I have here is by Detlef Singer, which might be translated in other languages as well (Originally German).

Thank you @Seli! Will check out Singer; German would be fine. Never heard of him.

I found out there will be some guided birding tours in my area in May and at the end of April, so if everything works out, I'll try one of these. Must find a book and probably binoculars...

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Posted (edited)

I highly recommend getting binoculars. Get at least 8x32 size. The 8 means that things are magnified 8 times larger than what they'd appear with the naked eye. The second number tells you how large the light-gathering lenses are. Larger ones gather more light (which is good), but they are are heavier and and tend to be more expensive. (32 = 32 millimeters in diameter)

I use 8x42 almost exclusively. They're the perfect balance between image quality, ease of use for almost anyone, and weight. Don't bother with anything larger than 42-mm objectives -- the 50mm ones are just total overkill. And beware being tempted by 10X magnification -- yeah, you get more detail, but at the cost of them being easy to use. It's much harder to pan an area to find birds with a 10X vs. the 8X. I'll use a 10X only if I'm doing something like studying the minute differences between similar bird species. 

Here's a good buying guide: 
http://www.audubon.org/gear/binocular-guide

Edited by Xray the Enforcer

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8 hours ago, Xray the Enforcer said:

I highly recommend getting binoculars. Get at least 8x32 size. The 8 means that things are magnified 8 times larger than what they'd appear with the naked eye. The second number tells you how large the light-gathering lenses are. Larger ones gather more light (which is good), but they are are heavier and and tend to be more expensive. (32 = 32 millimeters in diameter)

I use 8x42 almost exclusively. They're the perfect balance between image quality, ease of use for almost anyone, and weight. Don't bother with anything larger than 42-mm objectives -- the 50mm ones are just total overkill. And beware being tempted by 10X magnification -- yeah, you get more detail, but at the cost of them being easy to use. It's much harder to pan an area to find birds with a 10X vs. the 8X. I'll use a 10X only if I'm doing something like studying the minute differences between similar bird species. 

Here's a good buying guide: 
http://www.audubon.org/gear/binocular-guide

This gives me a serious buying itch. My own binoculars were probably cheap when I got them as a present decades ago, and pre-date most of the modern coatings.

Off to browse then.

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3 hours ago, Seli said:

This gives me a serious buying itch. My own binoculars were probably cheap when I got them as a present decades ago, and pre-date most of the modern coatings.

Off to browse then.

I have the Vortex Viper 8X42, the best in the midrange category. Since that guide was published, the price has gone down and you can usually find them for around $450US. I have yet to make the leap into Leica/Swarovski/Zeiss territory, although one of these days it will probably happen. 

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Posted (edited)

5 hours ago, Seli said:

This gives me a serious buying itch. My own binoculars were probably cheap when I got them as a present decades ago, and pre-date most of the modern coatings.

Off to browse then.

Seli, I bought the Celestron 8x42 which were the best of the Get in the game category:  http://www.audubon.org/news/category-get-game

They're light and portable, have a good feel and they're easy to focus.  Edit:  Stupid touchpad deleted two sentences, I LOVE mine and they were around $110.  I'm planning on getting a decent scope before I upgrade my bins.  Currently have no need for a more expensive pair.  I'm also a bit of a klutz and the case for them is well padded and light as well.  I'd recommend getting a good cleaning kit to go with them.  I bought one for around $12 that has cleaning papers a brush and cloth.  My eyeballs are greasy!  The kit came with a pouch I can attach to the strap of the binoculars.  Super handy because I always forget to clean them before I go out.

Edited by Lily Valley

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Posted (edited)

Thanks both, it is always nice to hear about some personal experience. I'll have a look at what is available locally as well. My usual decision cycle is measured in months though, so I am unlikely to make a final decision soon.

edit: I'll probably have to handle whatever I buy, since I do wear glasses and they will have to work well with that.

edit2: oh, the store of the national bird protection organization is the next town over.

Edited by Seli

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I also wear glasses. I've had great luck with both 8x42 Nikon Monarch 5/7 and with the aforementioned Vipers in that regard. Where it gets dicey is with 10X bins and spotting scopes. 

@Lily Valley let me know when you're in the market for a scope. I helped put together our scope guide and used every single one in the lot. I have a number of opinions, but the most salient one is that, with scopes, you really do get what you pay for. As such, it's worthwhile to save up for a good one (between $2,000 and $3,000 USD) and also get a decent tripod. 

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15 hours ago, Xray the Enforcer said:

I also wear glasses. I've had great luck with both 8x42 Nikon Monarch 5/7 and with the aforementioned Vipers in that regard. Where it gets dicey is with 10X bins and spotting scopes. 

@Lily Valley let me know when you're in the market for a scope. I helped put together our scope guide and used every single one in the lot. I have a number of opinions, but the most salient one is that, with scopes, you really do get what you pay for. As such, it's worthwhile to save up for a good one (between $2,000 and $3,000 USD) and also get a decent tripod. 

Duly noted.  I suspect it's the same with binoculars, so I DON"T WANT TO TRY YOURS.  I am perfectly happy with mine for now and I want to stay that way for a few years!   Lol!

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Posted (edited)

The Celestron sounds good. Of course, in my place, these things are more expensive. I also take months to make decisions like these, so it might take a while. PS: Today there was a crow not far from my window. Beautiful creatures.

Edited by Mindwalker

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The magpie that likes to roost in my street had a fight with the raven that also likes to roost. Despite being a fair bit smaller, the magpie consistently wins.

I also found out that southern Australians are lucky because we have the prettiest magpies in the world: the brilliant white-backed males are endemic to our region. Even the central coast ones tend to have dark grey or black backs.

Similarly, their song is unusually sophisticated. :) I love listening to them.

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A collection of Dutch nest-cams here https://www.vogelbescherming.nl/beleefdelente. The navigation is in Dutch but should be obvious. I don't think all nests are occupied yet (apparently the kingfishers are notably missing so far).

And because no plans survive reality he jackdaws (kauw) hijacked the nesting location that was intended for and used in past years by barn owls (kerkuil). While the hawk (havik) is nesting in the location previously used by white-tailed eagles (zeearend).

Edited by Seli

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Oh dear. The crazy peregrine falcon mom at Cathedral of Learning killed and ate her first two chicks as they were hatching this morning. This is the third year in a row she's done this. Hopefully Eggs 3 and 4 will make it. 

Biologists and bird experts have no idea why she does this. She's a good mother falcon...if they survive the hatching. Last year they fledged three and one the year before. 

 

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