A couple of days ago I re-read Mary Oliver’s famous poem, Wild Geese, a lovely piece which got me thinking about bird migration. This semester I have been taking a fall birding class through the Hitchcock Center with Scott Surner, from the Hampshire Bird Club. We have been focusing on fall plumages; though I had previously considered myself to be a reasonably decent birder, I now realize that my skills are not nearly as good as I had thought!
The old Peterson’s Field Guide page entitled “Confusing Fall Warblers” is only the tip of the iceberg; trying to identify the fall and winter plumages of not only warblers but shorebirds and many others is like starting all over again, without the benefit of song to help with the id. I have had to buy a new field guide as, alas, my old Peterson’s is not quite up to the task. Now I am on to National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern North America, which is serving me much better this season.
In an effort to improve my learning, I have also done a few pencil drawings of various birds; they are just copies of what’s in the book, but they are definitely improving my memory for the next time I see a flash of movement or color through the trees. Maybe I will post some of this work after my artistry improves.
If you are interested in fall migration and want to know what is coming through your area when, check out the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Regional Migration Forecast; this week’s post includes a terrific close-up of a loon with a beady red eye: http://birdcast.info/forecast/regional-migration-forecast-2-9-october-2015/.