Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Birding is Fun with the Birders who Blog, Tweet, and Chirp!

Paul Ippolito, Jeff and Dawn Fine, Dan Hueber, Diana Fruguglietti

Though Birding is Fun all of the time, it becomes even more fun when you join a group of birders and go out birding together. Last fall I went to Plum Island on a Birders who Blog, Tweet and Chirp outing organized by the founder of the group, Dawn Fine. Birding with other birders is a different experience for me, because it is much more social and I don't always pay as much attention to the birds as I should! Most other birders are very friendly people and very helpful as well. With that many people and all of those eyes, I often see birds I would not have seen otherwise. Also, having more experienced birders around helps me to learn new birds and birding techniques.

Fog over marsh at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge 1-1-11
It was a dreary and foggy day over the marsh at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge last October 1, 2011, the day of our trip. The Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is located on Plum Island, a barrier island off the coast of Massachusetts. There is a $5 admission fee to get into the refuge, or you can get in with a National Parks Pass or a Duck Stamp. Either way, it is well worth the trip and the fee. This is one of the premier birding sites in all of the east coast, and fog or not, we were going birding!

Great Egret
Of course we saw gulls and Canada geese and black ducks and mallards, but we also saw so many other birds.

Forster's Tern
A few Forster's Terns were still hanging around...

Snowy Egret

...and egrets, both Great and Snowy were seen. The great egret is told from the snowy by the color of their legs and their beaks. Can you see the difference? The Great egret is not only bigger, it has a yellow beak and black legs. The snowy, though a bit smaller, is nonetheless more showy with it's gorgeous plumes during the breeding season. However, this was autumn and though it's plumes are gone you can tell it is different from the Great Egret because of its black beak with yellow lores in front of its eyes, and, if you could see it's feet, you would see that it's legs are black but its feet are yellow! Years ago another birder told me that you can tell it's a snowy because it has yellow boots on its feet for going out in the snow! I've never forgotten that.

Dawn and Jeff Fine with Chris Ciccone
These are just some of the people I met on this birding outing. You can tell they are serious birders!

Dan Hueber, a.k.a. "Doc Forestal" and Jeff Fine

Eastern Towhee hiding in a tree
There are so many birds on Plum Island because there are a wide variety of habitats, from ocean, to marshland, to river, and even a bit of forest. As a result, we saw quite few migrating warblers that day, but between the leaves and the fog none of my photos of them are very good, so you will just have to believe me!

American Bittern emerges from the fog

Savannah Sparrow

Greater Yellowlegs
Down at the southernmost end of Plum Island is a place known as Sandy Point State Reservation. This is where the Parker River meets the Atlantic Ocean. On this beach you can often see so many shore birds and today was no exception! 

Dunlin and Sanderlings taking a nap
We saw Ruddy Turnstones, sanderlings, dunlin, plovers and sandpipers; we saw gulls and terns. 

Chris Ciccone getting some serious pictures!

Common Tern with begging baby!
We watched an adult common tern being chased up and down the sand by its begging chick.

A cloud of Sanderlings!

Shorebirds coming in for a landing
Though we were all a bit chilled by the time the day was done, we had so much fun. In the end, I personally counted 61 species of birds for the day and submitted 7 checklists to eBird. I added 2 species of birds to my Life List with Blackpoll warbler and Pectoral Sandpiper and 12 species to my Massachusetts Life List! Fog or not, it was a very productive day birding! Not only did I see numerous birds, but I met a lot of good birders and made new friends. This is what birding is all about. Birders who Blog, Tweet or Chirp is open to anyone interested in birds and birding. You can join the group on Facebook, or find a birding club in your own area. There are so many ways to enhance your bird watching and make it even more fun. So whether you join a group, go to a Bird Festival, or just feed the birds in your own backyard and watch them out the window, just remember that the main point of all of this is to enjoy the birds and Have Fun!
As Dawn Fine would say, "Come Join the Fun!"

You can read about my other outing with the Birders who Blog, Tweet and Chirp on Kathie's Birds


  1. Great post Kathie and it looks like loads of Birding Fun!

  2. Very cool Kathie! I've only met Chris Ciccone in person. Dawn is certainly a hub for birding fun. I wonder if she'd let me franchise BWBTC for any of my trips out of town. I'm going to AZ next week and will be doing a road trip with Laurence and Jeremy from this blog. This summer I'll be going to the Oregon Coast for a week for a family reunion, but I've already asked the family to give me one solid day of birding with birding friends. Though I bird solo most often, I too enjoy the social aspect of birding with like-minded people and I too learn a ton every time I bird with someone else.

  3. What a wonderful day of birding fun!

  4. Nice post and super photos, Kathie.

    I was lucky enough to be included when Dawn brought her BWBTC extravaganza to Patagonia AZ a couple years ago. I think that was the most fun I've ever had birding and socializing.

  5. What an incredible diversity of species. This looks like a fantastic birding site, and I can only imagine how bustling it must be come spring time. You will all have to have an event down in Arizona some time...

  6. Plum Island is an amazing place. I've only been there during the winter, however, and it's a very cold winter destination!!

  7. Hey- I know them! Wow- great memories! Robert- please use BIrders who Blog, Tweet and Chirp for your get togethers... I would love that! I can tell you where to get some cool buttons to pass around too! Happy Birding! Thanks Kathie!!

  8. Mia, it certainly was!

    Steve Creek, thanks!

    Robert, I see Dawn has already answered you! welcome to the group! You should post Birding is Fun on the BwBTC site! That's what it's there for! Facebook is great for getting info out there fast. You can put Birding is Fun on networked blogs and have it post regularly on your Birding is Fun Facebook page. If you have a Smartphone you can post right to Facebook from it. Dawn is more tech savvy than I am in this department. I learned most of this stuff from her. I guarantee you two would get along and I hope you get to meet her and go birding with her and Jeff one day!

    Cynthia, it sure was.

    Scott, you should try it sometime! Dawn holds these get-togethers all over the place!

    Bosque Bill, I was there back then but missed out on the get-together. I was glad to finally make a couple!

    Laurence, They have done it before. Dawn needs to come back and so do I!

    KaHolly, yes, it is cold, but it can be very peaceful at that time of year! It is amazing all year round!

    Dawn, thanks for chiming in and answering Robert's question! He would be a perfect ambassador I think!

  9. Plum Island looks like a glorious place to go birding. It sounds as if you had a wonderful time with your fellow birders. Great variety of birds you saw that day. Lots of fun!

  10. Julie, if you are ever out this way it is certainly a place you should put on your short list to visit! You and your camera would have so much fun!

  11. Wonderful post! Beautiful birds, photos (especially loved the cloud of sanderlings) and nice seeing the faces behind the cameras of fellow bloggers :)

  12. It was a great day despite the dreary weather. Can't wait till the next get together :)