Thursday, August 12, 2010

How to Freak Out the Workshop Leader

It's easy really.  We showed up for the Shorebirds with the Man Who Wrote the Book workshop on Tuesday morning promptly at 7:30.  I asked Michael O'Brien (the man who wrote the book The Shorebird Guide) if we should carry the book into the field with us.  He said no need but the second leader, Pete Dunne who also writes books on these subjects, suggested that I could bring it if I needed another 1 1/2" of height to see through the scopes.  Of course, that comment lead to my now patented "Did he just call me fat?" comeback.  Later in the day, Pete made sure to let Barbara know that he didn't really call me fat. . .

We started Day 1 of the 3 day workshop at Cape May State Park (remember that the Birdnerds refer to this as "the lighthouse" or "the hawkwatch platform" interchangeably.  At 7:30 AM it was already stinking hot.  I had sweat rolling down unmentionable places by 8:00.  The water level in the pond just in front of the hawkwatch platform was really low which exposed alot of mud.  Dozens of Herons and Egrets were gathered picking fish out of the remaining water with ease but the group was there for shorebirds so we concentrated on those.  Peeps are notoriously difficult to identify.  Michael started with those - semi-palmated, least, western, stilt, and white-rumped.  We saw all but white-rumped right off the bat. We also had great lessons on Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs.  My favorite of the morning was the Stilt Sandpiper which feeds by probing the mud in a manner that reminds me of the old novelty item:

Here is a photo of the real bird taken with my Canon 100-400mm rented lens (more on that next post):

I will be making lots of posts over the next several days in order to break up all of the stuff that I want to tell you about our workshop so please check back often.

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