23 May 2023

Bird update May 2023

Posted by Callan Bentley

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Greetings friends … It’s been slow around the blog for some time now, and partly that’s due to being very busy with the spring semester, and partly due to a lack of inspiration. But I have been inspired to keep birding, and now that the books are closed on the semester, I have some time to sit and think and feel around for strands of creative inspiration. So I hope to boost productivity over the summer – maybe not to the glorious levels of the heyday of this blog, but at least to better than once-a-month posting.

Anyhow: I’m at 146 species for my county in 2023, and when I checked in with you a month ago, that number stood at 111. Spring migration is the main boon – lots of new species flushing through our forests and mountains. It’s great to have hummingbirds back, and the brilliant blue indigo bunting. I’ve tracked down a few rarities, but mostly it’s been backyard birding for me. I’ve slipped from my highest ranking of #2 down to #5, and then clawed my way back up to #3 again.

I have a walk I do — I call it my Bird Walk — That starts at my house, and then heads down a nearby gravel road, crossing through forest, riparian zones, and open grassland, before looping back through a soggy wetland and then my neighborhood lake, and this time of year that route will net me ~50 species in an hour or so of walking. It’s about 4 miles, depending how far down the gravel road I choose to push it.

I’ve been enjoying refamiliarizing myself with spring migratory bird songs, thanks to the Merlin app. There are also some rarer ones that I’ve learned since last year – the Yellow-breasted chat, for one. I definitely feel more aware of bird song now than I have been at any point. I’ve gained enough confidence to scowl when Merlin IDs the song as the wrong bird! Mostly it gets it right, and I learn more every day through repetition and practice.

I ended up canceling my UVA class due to low enrollment, which means plenty extra time for birding as spring segues into summer.