Friday, October 19, 2012

Loose Feathers #364

Merlin / USFWS Photo
Birds and birding
Nature blogging

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Big Sit at Morgan Mudflats

This is the annual Big Sit weekend, and yesterday I participated in the Big Sit at Morgan Mudflats in South Amboy, led by Rick Wright and sponsored by the Montclair Bird Club. Unlike big days, which can cover as large an area as a birder chooses, a big sit is a stationary count. Only species seen or heard from within a 17-foot circle may be counted towards the big sit total. Site selection and circle placement are the keys to a successful big sit; good sites should have a mix of habitat types visible from the count circle. At Morgan Mudflats, the habitats include bay, beach, saltmarsh, deciduous forest, and successional areas. Not all of these are easily visible from a count circle on the beach, but at the very least, they provide an opportunity for fly-by sightings.

Rick's count ran from 8 am to 3 pm. I was there along with Patrick and Anthony, my Middlesex Merlins teammates, for the morning portion of the count. Brant were back at the mudflats, and they were joined by several flocks of Green-winged Teal. Other waterfowl included seven Wood Ducks and a Black Scoter, the latter a new county bird for me. The raptor flight was highlighted by Bald Eagles — two while I was there and eight overall. Yellow-rumped Warblers and House Finches were constantly passing through the brush behind us. Occasionally they were joined by other species like Eastern Phoebe, American Pipits (which ran in and out of the Seaside Goldenrod), Savannah Sparrow, and Pine Siskins (which perched on the Phragmites heads to eat the seeds).

See Rick's full report at the Big Sit homepage.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Loose Feathers #363

White-tailed kite/ Photo by Brian Hansen (USFWS)
Birds and birding
Nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity

Monday, October 01, 2012

Blog Comments Note

I have been using Haloscan, which morphed into Echo and JS-Kit, for my blog's commenting system almost as long as this blog has existed. In 2005, Haloscan offered a better user interface than Blogger's comments, both for commenters (who did not need to register for an account anywhere to comment) and for blog owners (who could easily moderate comments to filter out spam). That advantage eroded over the years, but the system remained good enough to leave in place. As of today, October 1, that system has been discontinued. I will try to switch to a replacement — most likely Blogger's (much improved) native comments or Disqus — as soon as possible. In the meantime, if you would like to comment on a post or say hello, you can contact me via Twitter (@dendroica) or email me at empidonax AT gmail DOT com.