|We're going to be camping at Cape Lookout State Park and visiting locations all the way up to Seaside (see the stars on the map)|
First, I find out which counties I'll be visiting and then I create an eBird bar chart of all the birds seen in those counties.
Then I download the histogram data into Microsoft Excel and remove all of the columns except for the weeks surrounding my planned visit. Then I delete all the birds that show no sighting data during those weeks. This gives me a good list of what I can reasonably expect to see. I convert the data to percentages rather than long decimal numbers for my own convenience. Often, I will delete from the list all the birds that I am already familiar with to create my study list and my potential "life bird" list.
Here is my potential "life bird" list for Tillamook County, Oregon for the last week of July and the first two weeks of August - sorted by probability as per submitted eBird data for birders like you:Greg Gillson, one of our fantastic contributors here at "Birding is Fun!" is the perfect resource for this Oregon Coast trip. I browse through his Photo Checklist of Oregon Birds and peruse the images of my potential life birds and my excitement just builds and builds.
Check out Greg's photography below that helps me get an idea of what these birds look like, what habitat I might see them in, and a glimpse of how they might be behaving when I see them:
|Fork-tailed Storm Petrel|
Next, I read about each of these species at AllAboutBirds.org. I particularly like the descriptions of habitat and feeding as well as the "cool facts" with which I will delight (or bore) my family members.
Finally, I spend some time in my arsenal of field guides both paper and digital, studying the illustrations and photos, and reading the text for each. May I recommend the Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America by our own Lillian Stokes? Another cool thing I like to do is find online video and sound clips for any of the species I can. Video really helps get an idea of general shape and size, habitat and behavior, and often sound. When will they start incorporating video into the digital field guides for smartphones and tablets?!
Speaking of apps, I can also use the apps like Audubon Birds with "Find Birds with eBird" to zero in on locations where each of these species has recently been seen.
By following this pattern of study and preparation, I feel ready to identify, if not recognize, and enjoy these birds and add them to my life list. I'll check back in after the trip and tell you how I did!