Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New to Birding the mid-Atlantic

States where I've been birding.
(Notice the little island of Oahu, Hawaii?  I've also been birding in the Mexican state of Sonora)

Birding update from Birding is Fun!/Idaho Birding Blog:

Being away from my family for 10 days at time would offer me more birding time and blogging time...so I thought.  I was wrong.  My new job has me on the road from sun up until sun down, so I miss prime birding time.  I already can't wait for Spring and Summer when I get a little more day light before and after work hours!  I haven't had my camera with me for the last month and I am only able to sneak in five minutes of birding here and there.  You can imagine that I take every advantage that I can with rest stops and even at the homes I inspect.  Just yesterday, while I waiting for one of my contractors to arrive, I stood on the deck of a home and pished away (pished, not pissed. - come on folks!).  At least eight species darted in to see what the alarm was about.  All but the Ruby-crowned Kinglets are birds that are new to me since coming east.

In a way, I'm glad to be adding to my life list in a more slow and controlled fashion as I venture into the eastern United States for the first time as a birder.  I am trying to savor each new bird.  If it were spring and I had 20 new warblers all at once, I would probably die of sensory overload.  Easing into eastern birding is not necessarily a bad thing, right?

I have also come to recognize and enjoy the 'usuals' which appear to be the same species from Baltimore, MD to Charlotte, NC.  Tufted Titmouse, Northern Cardinal, Northern Mockingbird, Blue Jay, Carolina Wren, and Carolina Chickadee.  None of those birds are even close to common in Idaho, so I am really enjoying learning there different sounds and antics.  I guess the cardinals and mockingbirds were regular for me when I lived in Arizona.

Sunday morning, at the beach in Norfolk, VA I saw my first Ruddy Turnstone and my second ever sighting of Sanderlings.  Awesome shorebirds!  I even saw a Common Raven near Chatham, VA today, which eBird filters questioned as an unusual bird sighting...so that's kind of cool, right?

There were a handful of White-throated Sparrows around an abandoned home near my hotel tonight.  The overgrown landscape has gone "wild" and was full of lots of birds.  I had seen one W-T Sparrow previously at Lew Ulrey's home in Boise, which was a rare sighting for Idaho.  What a cool looking sparrow!

I can't say that European Starling are any more exciting in the east than in the west.  My new birding friend John Shortis from England, currently in Horseshoe Bend, Idaho would be happy to send them back across the pond where they seem to be declining.

State and county listing will also become a new sport for me as I travel from one mid-Atlantic state to another.  I've sumbitted eBird checklists in 15 different counties already. My Virginia life list is at 43, Maryland at 36, North Carolina 17, and Delaware 8.  This job has me covering a lot of ground, so the potential for seeing lots of birds is there. 

I really enjoyed my drive through the hill country of western Virginia.  The fall colors and the winding roads made for a nice break from the endless highways with the uniform tree-lined landscape. (Oh, the locals call them mountains, not hills.  Sorry about that.  Mountains are a little different for a boy from the Rockies.)

At some point, I plan to take my list of "wanted" birds and use eBird to find the best places to see them.  Making that work with my nightly resting place is the hard part.


  1. Sounds like a lovely drive through Virginia country and nice list of sightings. Hope to visit there in the future.

  2. Western Virginia is absolutely gorgeous. The Appalachians aren't as dramatic as the mountains you're used to, but I think you'll find them serviceable. ;)

    As for the Raven, I'm surprised it was flagged, but they still get flagged in the Piedmont of NC even though they seem to be getting more common in the lowlands, especially in the fall and winter.

    As always, let me know if you find yourself in NC's triangle! I'll see if I can turn up something cool for you. We've got a long-staying Connecticut Warbler if you're interested...

  3. Robert, what is your new job? Will you eventually be stationary and permanent? How wonderful to add to your Life List and county lists! Some areas of West Virginia have never even had one bird count submitted to eBird! I really enjoyed the New River Birding Festivasl there. The New River Gorge is a HUGE birding hotspot with "Huge" meaning lots of birds, not lots of birders. I fear that shore birds and gulls with drive me batty and when the warblers return in the spring, look out! I may go crazy! It'll be fun to compare Life Lists and counties and states birded in. I have never birded in any of the states you mentioned except WV. I did add a few states as we drove across the country. I have yet to add Vermont onto my list of states birded in.