Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Northeast BC in Fall

I just spent last Sunday flying through the northern Rocky Mountains of British Columbia doing some reconnaissance survey work for an upcoming wildlife field program. What a fantastic day, with beautiful blue sky, crisp autumn colors, and a few bird sightings to boot. Bird highlights included several small flocks of Red-winged Blackbird, a Mountain Bluebird, and a few American Pipits. On a couple of remote, high elevation lakes I found Common Goldeneye and a female Hooded Merganser. A Northern Harrier and Sharp-shinned Hawk were also seen zipping past the helicopter. Below are a couple of photos from the trip.

Until next time, happy birding.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

3 lifers from the couch

Yesterday I finally made time to update my life list according to the latest revisions of The Clement's Checklist of Birds of the World. By way of splits and lumps (and one small correction to my list), I had a net gain of three new species. Here's how it broke down:

Common Moorhen: the species was split to form Eurasian Moorhen and Common Gallinule. Result was +1 to the life list, as I have seen Eurasian Moorhen in England and Common Gallinule in the United States.

Winter Wren: the species was split to form Eurasian Wren, Pacific Wren and Winter Wren. Result was +2 to the life list, as I have seen Eurasian Wren in England, Pacific Wren throughout western British Columbia and Washington, and Winter Wren in northeast British Columbia and northern Alberta.

Blue-crowned Motmot: the species was split to form Amazonian Motmot, Whooping Motmot and Blue-crowned Motmot. Result was +1 to the life list, as I have seen Amazonian Motmot on the eastern slope of the Andes in Ecuador, and Whooping Motmot in the canal zone of Panama.

So as you can seen, the total above is +4, but the title of the blog posting is 3 lifers from the couch. That's because I discovered an error in my list - I accidentally had European Turtle-Dove checked for my United States sub-list, which was supposed to be Eurasian Collared-Dove. It hurt to remove a species, but the honor system among birders and their checklists runs deep.

In addition to the above noted changes to my life list, Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (seen in Panama) is now lumped with Black-mandibled Toucan. As I had not yet seen the latter, the resulting change had no effect on my life list tally.

Another 70+ species in my life list were affected by name changes. Some were relatively straight-forward (i.e., genus changed), and others were more complicated. As en example of the latter, Mexican Jay was split and the original Latin name was given to the new species, Transvolcanic Jay; I have only seen Mexican Jay. The same thing happened with Naumann's Thrush, which was split from Dusky Thrush; I have only seen Dusky Thrush.

I hope my next lifer is from the wilds, and not from a checklist update!

Until next time, happy birding.