Day 5 - Circling Back

Tuesday, January 05, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-

Full disclosure--I decided to go remove a bird from my year list this morning.

It had been nagging me since I put it on my list and in good conscience I couldn't keep it.  On Day Two I had a Dull Dancer, that without a doubt isn't wild.  The bird is a long time resident of a local park and accustomed to people.  This species does seem to pop up from time to time here so I might add it later--but in keeping with the ABA listing rules I had to remove it.  I want my list to be clean, by the book, and not include anything questionable.

Now that I've got that out of the way and can breathe a sigh of relief, onto today's birding...  I picked out a specific route for today's birding; in essence a circle through several different habitats to look for 5-6 specific birds.  If I got them all today I likely wouldn't drive this route again till spring, or unless someone finds something great along it.  The theme today seems to be circling back.  I circled back on the Dancer as I mentioned above, but I also managed to keep on stopping, turning around, and going back to check out birds.  It happened at least 3 times, and each time it was a common bird that looked odd on the wing.

This is an interesting phenomenon with birders.  So often we'll catch a glimpse of a bird and be sure what it is.  Sometimes it's more than a quick look; as in today's case I watched one bird for about 3 seconds and thought for sure it was my year Clairvoyant.  I had to actually wait for speeding cars to pass for a minute then drive back several hundred yards only to find it was instead a Stately Assassin sitting atop a brush. My next twirl on the highway was when I surely thought I saw a specific species of hawk flapping in the distance.  By the time I located the bird perched on a fence it wasn't even a hawk... Ouch.

This phenomenon is common though.  And ofter birders are incredulous to the fact that anyone would question their sighting of a 2nd state record Flying Zigzag (not a real bird) that they saw going 60 as it zig-zagged overhead.  Don't get me wrong, I have my fair share of "fly-bys".  I try to be critical of myself and make sure I don't mark it down unless I am sure.  But even I have a couple that others probably scratch their head at.  The point is that we often see what we want to see so if we are looking for bird A and something flies by that resembles bird A we try to convince ourselves of the ID.  I guess this is a form of Apophenia, specifically perhaps Pareidolia and its rampant in birding :)

Eventually I did manage to see, identify and get good looks at two new birds for the year.  The first was a Winter Sentinel, followed shortly after by a Pilot Sentinel.  Both were expected and the focus of the drive.  Surprisingly it was rather "dead" at most of the stops I made.  I had a hard time tracking down even the most common of birds.  Eventually I called it a day and headed in.  Tomorrow will bring mores birds--and hopefully less circling back!

New birds today: 2
Year List: 63


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