Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tai Haku's 11 step program

So I've been perusing the unofficial annotated national list plotting my path to birding glory - this is how I see it going down if it goes down at all - the 11 species I think I'm most likely to get are in red.

I have pretty close to a full suite of these with the exception of Snowy Egret (1) – to be honest that would probably already be on the list were it not for my lack of effort at properly grilling juvenile little blue herons. Whether I can find one now I really want one is of course the crux of the matter.

Thus far my really quite careful watching of our big flocks of ducks (white cheeked pintail and blue winged teal) has only revealed a single vagrant – green winged teal – but there are a couple of other possibles. I'm hoping I can bag American Wigeon (2), Lesser Scaup and/or Ring-necked duck (3) at some point on one of the ponds.

Stilt Sandpiper (4) is the obvious target here and one of the reasons I've been working the peeps quite heavily – having got the other 2 obvious targets already this month. Also among the possibles are long-billed dowitcher (5) and whimbrel (on which see the near misses below) as well as perhaps some of the smaller peeps carried in flocks of migrating semi-palms, pec and least sandpipers.

The most obvious targets are Indigo Bunting (6), Northern Parula (7), American Redstart (8) and Northern Waterthrush (9). Also more than possible are a number of wood warblers. I'm somewhat hamstrung in this field by having absolutely no experience with any of these species. My utterly feeble tactic to compensate for this is going to be to photograph or note absolutely every warbler and passerine I see that I can't immediately identify (happily we don't have many) and having reviewed with a fieldguide to try to id dump them on the birdforum id section and/or here requesting confirmation and hope for the best (if this sounds pathetic bear in mind that this is how I got most of the peeps on the list).

Really starting to reach a bit desperately now. I count introductions on my list because frankly there is no way of knowing how sustainable a small population of escapes is when compared to such a small pool of birds anyway – the number of escaped breeding peafowl for example probably exceeds the number of breeding red-tailed hawks so who's to say what's truly sustainable. Certainly escapes make up a vastly more significant aspect of our avifauna than, say Bay-breasted warbler which is quite rightly on the list due to the capture of a single specimen at our only ringing station. Possibles here are feral guineafowl (10), a couple of species of escapee parrots (11!) (of which there are several pairs roaming the island and allegedly breeding which regularly get reported to me in gripping fashion by non-birders) and supposedly feral Silver Pheasant (the unlikeliness of which me seeing is mitigated massively by virtue of the supposed epicentre of the feral population being about 1km from my house.

Near misses
I could and probably should be a lot closer to my goal by now but a few near-misses really stick in the craw:
1 – a pair of green, black and yellow looking warblers I saw in the mangroves that could quite frankly have been one of many images in the fieldguide. No id to species = no place on the list.
2 – Whimbrel, big bird with curlew looking bill briefly silhouetted flying across the road in front of my car. I couldn't stop to investigate and couldn't rule out a couple of other species so it stays off the list for now.
3 – American Redstart – I think I saw one. Dunno though.

So in addition to pondering whether I'm going to make it you can now ponder if I'm going to do it in the style envisioned.....

No comments: