Monday, May 16, 2011

my first time (the bird whisperer) #144

The bird gods smiled down on me on Sunday and stopped the rain for the whole day! I was surprised there weren't more cars at Mud Lake. On the drive there, there was a song on the radio and about halfway in I realized, "hey! this song is about birds!" So I took note of the title and artist and feel free to listen to it while you read (Canadian guy, from Alexisonfire. He's got a nice sound..."Sleeping sickness" and "Coming home" are also good). But warning: it's a total downer about the oil spill. Luckily this post is going to be a little more upbeat than that, so probably not an appropriate soundtrack.

Actually, he's got another song called Fragile Bird, which has nothing to do with birds, but has "bird" in the title. Ok, I'm getting WAY off track now, but here it is anyway!

Well, there's something I want to talk about. We've all been first-timers at some point. Maybe some of us have never done it. It's something I've been shy and maybe even a little embarrassed about. I've looked up how to do it on the internet, but it's just not the same as the real thing, right? I mean, someone can explain it, but you never really know what it's going to be like when you do it, and how do you know if you are doing it right, or if you're going to be good at it? Should you do it with any of them? Can you do it too much? Nobody seems to talk about it, but I think a lot of people do it. Well, yesterday, I saw someone doing it right out in the open like it was nothing, and not holding back at all. We're talking "pishing" here.

Yep, pishing, which to me has been a particularly mysterious aspect of birding. For those who don't know, "pishing" is a silly word for the noises birders make to attract birds. Often, it sounds like "pssshp" (obviously), but it can really be any sort of noise you make to attract birds. For the first time, I saw a bunch of people do it at Mud Lake on Saturday, and it's not what I had in mind at all. The few times I had tried, I was super quiet...I had no idea what kind of volume was appropriate...I was practically whispering. But some of these people were quite loud, practically spitting everywhere! Then I asked someone, and she said, well, they do have to be able to hear you...

So today, I thought I might try it to see if it worked. My first attempt was on this little guy...
and he turned around and looked right at me!
Hey, I don't think I've even counted a least flycatcher before!
#144: Least flycatcher; Mud Lake, Ottawa; May 15, 2011
I used to only post new birds, but you've probably noticed that I'm adding a lot more pictures, of the things I see in general...plants, and animals, as well as birds I've already seen. If I restricted myself to only lifers I wouldn't have too many pictures, and there is just so much great stuff out there.
Stare-down contest. He won. I'm sure he's not as mean as he looks...just a hard exterior, but a softy inside?
Lots of yellow warbling going on. I think I can safely say I know their song!
Does this not look like a really skinny yellow warbler to you? And look at the teeny tiny band!
No need to pish for a can hear them a mile away. Don't the twigs remind you of the LOTR logo? I tried to take a video, but just ended up fumbling with the settings because I wanted it in HD. So instead of a low-rez video, I got no video.

The nice thing about Sunday is that I got some really great looks at a few birds that I had seen before but from pretty far away, and when they were in fall feathers, and that my previous pics were not so great off. Namely the magnolia, the chest-nut sided and the northern parula.

So once I was into the woods, I make a serious effort to try this pishing thing again. At first, I was convinced that it wasn't doing anything; well, it wasn't driving them in, but at least it wasn't driving them away.

I took a moment to shoot the Jack-in-the-pulpit (aka. Bog onion, Brown dragon, Indian turnip, Wake robin or Wild turnip) that we had seen on the OFNC outing. Such a cool's nice to be able to put some names to things now. And it's nice to take photos of things once in a while that STAY STILL!

I was on a trail and caught sight of this lovely fellow. So I do a little check around to make sure nobody was around, and let out a PISH. So the bird checked me out and I told him how handsome he was. And then I see this guy to my left looking at me, and I am terribly embarrassed, because I'm pretty sure he just witnessed me both sputtering out loud and talking to a bird. Well, if you are looking for a crazy woman, deep in the woods talking to the wildlife is where to go.
Nashville Warbler
Then I found this little grove and something about it just seemed right. I caught sight of one little bird, and gave a pish! He really did come to check me out! Then I realized, it's a magnolia. Heck, there are like 3 of them right in front of me!
Magnolia warbler. Huge improvements on my first shots of magnolias.
So if that wasn't awesome enough, they just kept parading in, one at a time--magnolia, then black and white, then white-breasted nuthatch, chestnut-sided warbler--as I merrily pished. And I was quite confident at this point, because it really seemed to be working. Now, without a care about who was around me, PISH! PISH! PISH! I was so high on...birds. In the meanwhile, a particularly curious chickadee came right in, and was hovering around my head...I thought it was going to land on me!

Not a new blog bird, but the first time I've seen a chestnut-sided in spring feathers. What a difference. It sure seems like a different bird! I'm pretty sure he's looking at me trying to figure out what I'm doing. Photographic note: I also love the background on this one.

Wish I could have got a clearer shot of this robin collecting for her nest.

Well, I'll admit I might have gone a little overboard on the pishing and should probably pull it back a bit. In my excitement I was just pishing all over the place, pishing out of control. I imagine if everyone was doing it all the time, they would just get used to it and it wouldn't be effective anymore... So I guess my adventures in pishing will have to be made at a minimum.

I went down to the pine stand to see if I could pish out some pine warblers, which would have been a lifer for me. I've heard them but still never seen them. They're giving me a real hard time, those pine warblers! I did see this fine wood duck and his mate though...
Whose bum? At first I thought this was a very strange black bird with very unfamiliar white stripes. Oh, it's just glossy!
Heading back toward the ridge, I caught sight of my second Northern Parula of the day. This bird is so stunning, it seems it should be tropical!
After a little more wandering around off the main path, I realized I had lost yet another camera accessory. I'm notorious for losing lens caps, but this is my first time losing a lens hood. I had a good idea of where it went down...I had had a bit of a bout with a stand of I headed back and luckily found it.

Ok, at this point I had been there a few hours, and I kept saying, "Jenna, you need to go home now." But it was always the same, "Just one more trip up to the ridge." And I can't say no to matter how sore/hungry/thirsty I'm getting. So that's what I did.

However, I am going to take a little break now...come back tomorrow for the rest of the afternoon!


❦ fitcetera said...

You're definitely speaking the lingo, Jenna.
Great captures!
I talk to the birds, too, and I don't care! I tell them how cute and sweet they are.
I actually thanked a couple for landing close to me ... lol.
I'm addicted.

Happy Birding!

Funkysandman said...

that's a good license plate:
"pish-pish" Lake!!

Ruhh said...

Funny you say that Northern Parula looks tropical. I've only seen it in the Florida Everglades and again in Arizona's Catalina Mountains and associated it with southern climes.

Looks like you had an amazing weekend. I'm going to have to start getting up early again and breaking out the binocs.