Hi from mollwollfumble

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david_paterson
david_paterson's picture
Hi from mollwollfumble

Hi,

I'm an irregular bird-watcher, only go bird watching about two times a year. My real interest is science, and bird watching is only a very small part of that.

I've completed the Aussie Backyard Bird Count, submitting 3,947 birds of 87 species in SE Melbourne. Am rather nervous about the accuracy of 3 or 4 of those species.

My better half cooks a daily hot breakfast for all the birds (including meat eaters) in our small suburban garden, on a typical day 80 birds will turn up, creating a traffic jam.

I looked for a "how good a birder are you?" quiz on the web and didn't find one. Is there such a thing? I want to know what I need to do to graduate from "intermediate" to "advanced" birding.

Also, haven't found any web source of printed bird calls in musical (or semi-musical) notation. Is there any such thing? Any library of dawn choruses?

Where are all the sandpipers and dotterels this year?

Woko
Woko's picture

Hi David. Well done on your counting.

It's quite common for even expert birders to be unsure about species. Take a look at the current postings about the Bronze Cuckoo as a good example.

Also, you might want to take a look at the postings on the artificial feeding of birds. Just type <artificial feeding> into the search box near the top of this page & click on search. There's been lots of debate on this issue. My own preference is to feed birds by protecting &/or restoring their natural habitat as this is much less likely to do harm to the birds given that their natural habitat provides their natural food which they've been thriving on for aeons.

My own experience tells me that advanced birding is achieved by getting out there with a good pair of binoculars, a note book & pencil & a field guide. Learn to take notes of the various parts of birds, their behaviour, where they are in the environment & in which locality you observed them. Then check this information against information in a field guide. Join a bird watching group & learn from the observations of the "advanced" birders. If you're into photography post photos on this site & ask for indentities. Sometimes there are short courses run by education institutions, at least in SA where I live. Never be afraid to ask. Or if you are afraid, leap over your fear with a single bound. You'll find folk here are both knowledgeable & friendly.

I don't know of any "how good a birder are you?" quiz. Is this something you've heard or read about? Other members might be able to help.

I'm not sure what you mean by printed bird calls. Is this a music sheet with quavers & lots of lines? If so I don't know of anything like that. There are recordings of bird calls on this site.

Nor do I know of any library of dawn choruses. Others might be able to help. There are recordings of bird calls which might feature dawn choruses. Ask at your local music store. Alternatively, arise early & greet the dawn wherever you may be!! It's one of life's great experiences. And it's free!

What have you observed in relation to Sandpipers & Dotterels? I understand that waders generally are declining in numbers due to the devastation we humans have wrought on their habitats. Airports, tourist resorts, dogs, beach drivers etc., etc. all take their toll. But they never pay the environmental toll. Climate change is also probably having an effect as rising sea levels & increased storm intensity damages their habitats. Or maybe the Sandpipers haven't arrived yet.

Araminta
Araminta's picture

Hi David, and welcome to the forum.

You have just experienced Woko at his best, in full flight. Thanks Woko, you haven't changed one bit, I still love you! (LOL)

 By "printed bird calls in musical (or semi-musical) notation", do you mean sheet music? I have no idea how musical you are? I would suggest, sit down at the piano, listen to the calls online, and write down the notes. Interested in how you go?

Next question: what kind of a "hot breakfast" does your wife cook for the birds??

M-L

Araminta
Araminta's picture

Sandpipers are a migratory bird, they might not be where you are looking for them right now.

I have seen plenty of Dotterels , but that depends on which kind you are looking for.

Info about sandpipers: http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Calidris-acuminata

M-L

david_paterson
david_paterson's picture

Hi All,

> Hot beakfast

Cooked oatmeal. The three pigeon species, mynas and little ravens like it. Hot water and weetbix, as well as pears and apples, are preferred by wattlebirds and lorikeets. Uncooked sausage mince is prefered by seagull, corvids, mynas and rock doves. Little ravens also like oranges, and blackbirds just like pears and apples. I've observed in the past that the people who most vociferously object to feeding wild birds also tend to be those who do it themselves - by growing non-native trees for bird-food.

> If you're into photography post photos

Yes and no. I prefer bird videos. In the years long before youtube I set up an Australian bird video website, but the bird web videos are now unwatchable even by me because the codec no longer exists. Also, my video camera optics has degraded badly.

> I don't know of any "how good a birder are you?" quiz. Is this something you've heard or read about?

I haven't heard of one but I'd like to see one.

> Take a look at the current postings about the Bronze Cuckoo as a good example.

Had an embarassing incident two weeks ago when I mistook a Fan-tailed Cuckoo for a Horsefield's Bronze Cuckoo. Then after that I nearly mistook a Golden Whistler immitation of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo for the real thing. I've heard of one birder who took ages to identify a tailless Fan-tailed Cuckoo. So I can appreciate Cuckoo problems.

> A good pair of binoculars

I used a pair of binoculars for birding for the first time just 3 weeks ago. I'm strongly myopic so thought they wouldn't work, but they do, although slowly as I need to stow my glasses safely. I'm also red-green colourblind so red, green, and brown all look alike.

> Nor do I know of any library of dawn choruses.

Darn. Doesn't anyone keep a library?

>  By "printed bird calls in musical (or semi-musical) notation", do you mean sheet music? I have no idea how musical you are? I would suggest, sit down at the piano, listen to the calls online, and write down the notes.

I'm very tempted to do just that, transcribing Graeme Chapman's recordings. There are three ways to write the calls down on paper. One is to use a wavy line for pitch going up and down and duration left to right. I do this in the field. The second is the way that programs such as Cakewalk view midi files using horizontal bars for note duration and pitch up and down in semitones. The third is full musical score with crotchets, quavers, glissandos and grace notes.

My question about sandpipers, dotterels and other shorbirds is because last year at this time in SE Melbourne I counted >200 sharpies, >10 pied stilts, and 2 common sandpipers. This year visiting the same and more locations all I saw was 1 pied stilt and no sandpipers. People I've asked have said that all the small and medium waders have moved inland because it's too wet on the coast, but where inland?

One new question. I've really enjoyed binding in the roads adjacent to the eastern Treatment plant, seeing flocks of tree sparrows and the occasional swamp harrier, brown falcon and black-shouldered kite. I'd like to join in one of the regular bird surveyas at the Eastern Treatment Plant. But how?

> You have just experienced Woko ...

Nice to meet you Woko, you remind me of someone I know.

Woko
Woko's picture

You, too, David.

Great to read that you're managing well with your new binoculars. Keep that enthusiasm going. 

I'm interested to read that you're red-green colour blind. That must make identifying quite a few species difficult if you're relying principally on colour. So I can imagine you would become highly sensitive to other features such as shape, behaviour & habitat to help you with identification. 

david_paterson
david_paterson's picture

Woko wrote:

You, too, David.

Great to read that you're managing well with your new binoculars. Keep that enthusiasm going. 

I'm interested to read that you're red-green colour blind. That must make identifying quite a few species difficult if you're relying principally on colour. So I can imagine you would become highly sensitive to other features such as shape, behaviour & habitat to help you with identification. 

Yes. Bush birds are difficult. With red-green colour-blindness, yellow, blue, white, black are no problem; but everything elso looks like brown. Another annoyance is that be bird colours in bird field guides look absolutely nothing like the colours I see on the actual birds, because paint colours don't reproduce bird colours. I've read one story about a world expert on seabirds and waders who is colour-blind, the colour-blindness is why he chose to study seabirds in the first place. Because of the colour-blindness, I'm hoping to learn more about bird songs, hence my questions about handwritten recording of bird calls and a library of dawn choruses.

Woko
Woko's picture

Ah, hah! That makes sense. Bird calls would be a key characteristic for you. I imagine your hearing is becoming quite acute. 

I'm curious about bird colours in field guides not being the same as the actual bird colours. Can you explain how that works? 

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