Thursday, October 8, 2009

Flights, Friends, Football, Feathers, Federal Symbols, and of course Food

I headed off east last Wednesday for a trip that was built around watching the Colorado Buffaloes play a road football game against the West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown, WV. Despite their less than impressive season it had been too many years since I had watched a game out of state, and was a really good way to reunite a bunch of old college friends who are scattered in the mid west and along the east coast. As plans often do this one grew with a life of its own, myself and a buddy decided to fly into D.C. from Denver, and stay with a friend and his family just outside the District in Maryland before heading on to West Virginia on Thursday. Another friend and his wife have just opened a new restaurant, Tamari, in Pittsburgh which became a great destination for the weekend following Thursday night's game. When the friend in D.C. decided to come along to the game with his family it sounded like an even better trip, so with their encouragement we decided to stay in the D.C. area until Tuesday - successfully turning a weekend trip into almost a full week adventure encompassing four states, a district, three major cities, a couple of museums and some great memories both old ones revisited and new ones forged. With all that going on birding took a priority hit, but that did not mean that I wasn't keeping an eye on the skies, brush, and water, an ever growing list, and sneaking off for a few early morning walks to try to get a few pics.
Thanks to the McMahon-Christy and Chen families for their generous hospitality. It was great to see all of you, and my other friends from the region. To the readers - if you are in the Pittsburgh area make plans to visit Tamari. I know I am biased, but it is a great place to go for dinner. Check the Pittsburgh area reviews and you will find that the pros agree.
The Birds:
I will be posting a few more times with pics from various parts of the trip, but here are the details:I submitted 10 checklists to Ebird, from 8 locations in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. For the trip I spotted 30 species, 5 of which were new adds for me.
The new additions, only two of which have even decent pictures, were as follows:Fish Crow, Black Vulture, Tufted Titmouse, Laughing Gull, and Carolina Chickadee.
On a side note, two of the species, Fish Crow and Carolina Chickadee were the ones I specifically targeted. I used Ebird's graphing tools to pull species lists for likely candidates at the locations where I would be visiting. This really helps limit the aimless flipping through a guide when encountering completely unknown birds in new places. As I scanned the lists before my trip I saw the two species with which I was completely unfamiliar. So I did a bit of research before I left. I found that in both cases identification was difficult to impossible by viewing, but very easy by ear. The Fish Crow has a nasally voice - Ka Ka is replaced by something I would describe as an Ung...Ung... I first saw this species in a parking area surrounding a strip mall. The noise the group made was so entertaining I had to stop and just listen for a bit. Before the trip I had been concerned that my untrained ear wouldn't be able to tell the difference - fat chance! They are distinctive. The Carolina Chickadee ended up being the one that kept me working for it. The beginning of its song is different, and only the last snippets would catch my ear as familiar, but until I had a chance to really walk in the woods of Maryland I didn't get to isolate an individual and really appreciate the similarities and differences. Very cool.

2009 Count: 191
Lifetime: 199

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