Forum Role: Participant
Active Since: July 30, 2016
Topics Started: 0
Replies Created: 22

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Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 22 total)
  • Alicia
    Participant
    Activity 1: I've always loved birds, mainly thanks to my mom. This course has encouraged me to spend more time just watching birds and noting what they're doing, instead of thinking only about keeping lists. Activity 2: I already do the seven actions for birds, but I find the most challenging one is to cut down on single-use plastic. I recycle all my plastic, but normal daily life is almost impossible without a significant consumption of plastic, for packaging, in appliances, etc. Whenever there are alternatives, I use them. Another important action we could all do is to make sure we vote for politicians that will act to protect the environment and wildlife. Activity 3: I see that populations of many birds have visibly declined over my lifetime, but populations of some species that were extremely rare when I was young (the Bald Eagle and Peregrine Falcon) have bounced back. Activity 4: This course has made me want to start keeping field notes of birds from my favorite local patch, and keeping track of bird activity throughout the year.
  • Alicia
    Participant
    Activity 1: These animated range maps are the coolest thing! It's fascinating to be able to see practically week by week over the course of a bird's year where they are, where they're most abundant and try to imagine how they're traveling and why they spend time in specific locations. I would imagine the Blackburnian Warbler's small, highly-concentrated wintering range is because they need a very specific habitat that's only in that area, or because this way they avoid competition with other related birds. It was interesting that the Scarlet Tanager looks like its wintering population shifts throughout the winter, unlike the Blackburnian Warbler that stays focused in one winter range. And I was surprised to see how concentrated the Ruby-throated Hummingbird population is in Missouri in May - the place to be to see them in spring. Activity 2: Three local migrant birds are the Common Swift, Lapwing and Reed Warbler. I guess the large areas showing no data on the animated range maps for some birds are because there are no eBird observations from those areas - such as for the Swifts crossing the Sahara. It's interesting how the Lapwing's migration is east to west, from eastern Europe and China to spend the winter in north-western Europe. I didn't realize how the entire world population of Reed Warblers is concentrated in west Africa for the winter, in Mauretania, Senegal, and Gambia. It was surprising too how in February some move to around Lake Victoria, to then move up through the Nile Valley to cross the eastern Mediterranean. Definitely a little brown bird with a big story... Activity 3: The Goldfinch male has bright yellow breeding plumage, which must be the brown tips of his non-breeding plumage wearing off by spring to show the brighter colors. The same must be true of the Common Loon, but I wondered how his white throat and breast feathers wear off to reveal the black underneath.
  • Alicia
    Participant
    Activities 1 & 2: Since the end of December I'd been seeing on the eBird rare bird alert that there was an immature Ross's Gull seen from the pier at Nieuwpoort on the Belgian coast, and yesterday I finally went to see him. He regularly hangs out with Black-headed and Herring Gulls around the end of the pier, flying over the sea and sometimes even perching right on the pier. The field guides say that an immature Ross's Gull can resemble immature Black-legged Kittiwakes and Little Gulls, but I noted down the special field marks of the Ross's Gull and this bird definitely showed them (especially his wedge-shaped tail with black tips to the central tail feathers). But his ID has been confirmed by many birdwatchers more expert than me.
  • Alicia
    Participant
    Activity 2: Like other participants in the discussion I saw there were more small birds at Down House - birds more of woodland, scrub and open areas. Before I looked at the comments on eBird and the satellite map I also thought there might have been some water at Down House, because there were some gulls observed (but it turns out they were flyovers). For Sevenoaks I was sure there had to be extensive water habitats because of the species of shorebirds, waterfowl and marsh birds recorded there. Since there was a higher total of species recorded it also seemed to me there had to be more varied types of habitat than at Down House. And I was right...:-)
  • Alicia
    Participant
    Activity 4: I live in Brussels, Belgium and my favorite local birdwatching spot is a small nature reserve at the edge of the Sonian Forest, with two big ponds, reedbeds, woodland and some open areas. On January 8th I saw a lot of Eurasian Coots, Tufted Ducks, Mallards, Gadwall and some Mute Swans on the smaller pond. There was also  a Little Grebe. Some Egyptian Geese, Black-headed Gulls, Gray Herons and Great Cormorants flew over from the bigger pond nearby. In the trees and park areas I heard Stock Doves "singing", Eurasian Jays, a Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wren, Jackdaw, Magpie and a Gray Wagtail. Six months from now almost all these birds will still be at the reserve, except for the Black-headed Gulls that are only there in the winter. The big difference will be the pairs of Reed Warblers that will have arrived (from Africa!) to breed in the reeds along the edge of the ponds. There should also be Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Song Thrushes and Great Crested Grebes breeding in the reserve. During the summer House Martins and Swallows also often fly over the ponds to catch insects, and there will be swifts, and maybe even a Kingfisher nesting in the special nesting bank built by the bigger pond.
  • Alicia
    Participant
    Activity 1: I spent about 25 minutes watching the Cornell feeders cam on Oct. 16th, and saw a flock of Red-winged Blackbirds (it was raining). No other birds came, but I could there were others calling. Maybe there were some little birds on the ground under the feeders - it would be great if the feeder cam could also give us a view of the ground feeders (and the chipmunks...). Activity 3: From eBird I saw there are some interesting birds around Brussels I haven't seen much locally or never at all - the Graylag Goose, Wigeon, Eared Grebe, Common Gull and Rook.
  • Alicia
    Participant
    Activity 1: The Magpie can be told from far away because of its rounded wings and long spoon/wedge-shaped tail. The Rose-ringed Parakeet is very aerodynamic, like an arrow, with long, pointed wings and a pointed tail. Activity 2: Three birds here that are all or mainly black are the Carrion Crow, Great Spotted Woodpecker and the Magpie. The crow is entirely black, while the Magpie is black and white patched, but with an all black head. The woodpecker is patched black and white, with white wing bars and has white on its head. Activity 3: Characteristic foraging behaviors of three local birds - the Black Redstart perches on an exposed spot and flies out to catch insects, or sometimes hovers at vegetation to catch insects or pick berries; the Nuthatch climbs along tree branches, and sometimes forages on the ground; the Great Tit is most generalist, since it forages in trees, on walls, on the ground, in climbing vegetation, and at bird feeders. Activity 4: One of my favorite birds is the Goldcrest - it's a tiny, round bird that hovers and hangs on tree branches, and prefers foraging in spruce trees, and it has a very high pitched call and song.
  • Alicia
    Participant
    Wow - what a gorgeous picture! At first I thought you were going to say the eagle showed up at your bird feeder. :-)
  • Alicia
    Participant
    Activity 3: One of my favorite local birds is the Greenfinch - they have a lovely song, a bit like a wild canary. I tried making some watercolor drawings of the male Greenfinch, but they don't do justice to this beautiful little bird.Greenfinch 1Greenfinch 2Greenfinch 3
  • Alicia
    Participant
    Activity 3 - Three common birds from where I live (Brussels, Belgium) are the Wood Pigeon, Rose-ringed Parakeet and Magpie. I don't know if the Wood Pigeon has an equivalent in the US, unless it's maybe the Band-tailed Pigeon, but I've never seen one. They're big chunky pigeons, like a small chicken, and they trundle around in the leaf litter in the fall searching for beech nuts. In the spring they eat buds and young leaves. There's a pair that nests in the ivy in our garden each year. The Rose-ringed Parakeets are all over Brussels. They come from a collection of parakeets that were deliberately released in Brussels when a local zoo went bankrupt. The authorities complain about them, but most people like them. They might take over some nesting holes that would otherwise be used by native birds, but they seem to mostly eat seeds from ornamental, non-native trees that other birds aren't interested in. The Magpies are everywhere in Brussels where there are some big trees to perch in. They don't get along at all with the local Carrion Crows - the crows chase them and they chase the crows.
  • Alicia
    Participant
    I loved listening to the song of the Brown Thrasher on the Wall of Birds - it brought back happy memories of when I was growing up and I heard the Brownies singing in the shrubs and woods by our house. Those were the days. May the dear Brownies keep on singing forever.
  • Alicia
    Participant
    Aw, come on :-) - I think you did a great job with the subtlety and variety of the colors, especially since watercolor is so difficult.
  • Alicia
    Participant
    I was surprised with the results of the first exercise (Drawing basics) - for me it was much easier to get decent results when making a continuous line than with the sketchy lines.  I won't even pollute this forum with my sad drawings! :-) But for some reason the ginkgo leaf was always OK... How did everyone else do?
  • Alicia
    Participant

    @Rose Yes - I used a 0.4 water-proof pen to go over the pencil.  I planned on using watercolor for the colors, but I'm not too happy with the result... I have a lousy color sense, and I usually don't have the patience to get them all just right. Plus the paper in my journal probably isn't ideal for watercolor - it drinks up the water too fast, and makes the result blotchy. Maybe I'll use colored pencil instead... or maybe I'll stick to B&W! Nature Journal - Yellow Warbler 3

    in reply to: Jump Right in! #646105
  • Alicia
    Participant

    @Los Thanks! - I'll give it a try.

    in reply to: Jump Right in! #646100
  • Alicia
    Participant

    @Allie Thanks!

    in reply to: Jump Right in! #646099
  • Alicia
    Participant
    Wow - you did a beautiful job; I especially like how you did the branch and leaves.
    in reply to: Jump Right in! #646026
  • Alicia
    Participant
    I made this sketch of a plant and was wondering if anyone out there could please tell me if they know what it could be - I hope you can tell from the drawing! I found it in a park in Brussels, but a lot of the local weeds are the same as the ones in the US. Nature Journal - Weed X
    in reply to: Jump Right in! #646025
  • Alicia
    Participant
    1. With the photo I could study all the details at leisure and make corrections, which would definitely be a challenge with a real warbler... The challenge for me was to get accurate the small details of body shape, proportion; etc.  For instance, I made a mistake initially with the curve of the top of the head, and the way the forehead met the beak.  Plus, the paper in my journal doesn't take well to erasing, so I had to lightly sketch over these parts. 2. Drawing from the photo helped me see these details, while when sketching in the field I usually mainly see the "big picture" - the overall look of the bird, its attitude, etc.  I'm curious to see if this course will help me be more detailed in field sketching. Here's the drawing, first in pencil then gone over in pen: Nature Journal - Yellow Warbler Nature Journal - Yellow Warbler 2
    in reply to: Jump Right in! #645614
  • Alicia
    Participant
    Could it have been a Red Knot?  I like your drawing though - the little bird has attitude.
Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 22 total)