Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Nerd Squared

Taking the nerd part of our name to new heights here lately.
We are birdwatchers - nerd strike one
We submit our sightings electronically - nerd strike two

Two of our submissions from Belize are under scrutiny by eBird.  We are emailing descriptions and photos to the guy almost daily.  The 2 submissions under question are Sparrow which we saw with our guide Eric and identified as Botteri's Sparrow and a hawk that we saw on Ambergris Caye that sat on a telephone pole and baffled us for more than 15 minutes.  Luckily, I have photos of both birds which I sent to the "auditor".  The sparrow came back as Lincoln's Sparrow which the guy says hasn't been seen in that pahe rt of Belize since 2003 and he was pretty excited about the sighting.

Barbara and I spent a long time staring and photographing and trying to identify the hawk on the telephone pole.  Diane and I spent even longer staring at the computer screen and the field guide trying to identify the hawk from the photos.  We used 2 field guides.  Birds of Belize by Lee Jones which is rated the best guide for the country, and another guide that covers all of Central America.  We finally settled on Great Black Hawk (immature) due to field marks and process of elimination of all other species.  The auditor didn't like that submission stating that only one Great Black Hawk had been recorded on Ambergris Caye and could it possibly have been a Common Black Hawk which, by the its very name, is common in the area.  Once again, I sent photos.  His response was really, really nerdy and fascinating and exciting.  He said that his second review of the photos lead him to believe it was Broad-winged Hawk - which is b-o-r-i-n-g EXCEPT that only one of those have ever been seen on Ambergris.  Then, he asked if he could send my photos to Lee Jones - that's right, the guy who wrote the field guide. 

Oh, and if that is all not nerdy enough for you.  Here is nerd strike three - the PhillyBirdNerds are entering the World Series of Birding this year.  Yup. The biggest gathering of nerdiness outside of the computer expo.  To make matters worse, the PBNs are using technology including eBird reports, mapping tools, and "apps" on our iPhones and iPads (yup, we have iPads but no iTampons). 

Overwhelmingly nerdy.  More about the World Series of Birding in coming days.

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