Monthly Archives: May 2013

American Woodcocks at The Biggest Week

One of the highlights for me of The Biggest Week in American Birding was coming across a nest of newly hatched American Woodcocks near the parking lot at Magee Marsh. Fellow New Mexican Donna Madrid-Simonetti and I stayed well back from the birds and photographed them with our 400 mm lenses.

When we first saw them, they were snuggled up under a log. This photo is heavily cropped, as we did not want to disturb them.

Magee Marsh, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

American Woodhen and chicks.

There was caution tape around the area where the birds were sheltering, and birders and photographers kept a respectful distance as we admired the Woodhen and her fuzzy chicks.

Not far away I found the empty eggshells. The tiny chicks had hatched only that morning. The nest where the Woodhen had incubated her eggs was little more than a slight depression in the leaves, and the eggs had blended in perfectly with the detritus on the forest floor.

Magee Marsh, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

American Woodcock eggshells

I left the area to do some birding elsewhere. When I came back later that day, the little family was out for a stroll.

The Biggest Week in American Birding

Out for a stroll

I was backing up as I took this photo.

The Biggest Week in American Birding

They started to walk straight toward me.

I had stayed far back from the birds. These images were taken with a 400 mm lens, and they are heavily cropped. But at this point, quite a few people started crowding around the poor Woodhen and her chicks. People were thrusting point and shoot cameras and cell phone cameras right in their faces. The chicks became confused, and the mother Woodhen became distressed. Concerned birders started trying to move people away from the birds, but the babies became scattered. Finally, the babies were coaxed back to the mother and people backed away from the birds. The whole episode was distressing to watch.

Kim Claire Smith wrote about a similar situation with a Kirtland’s Warbler on her blog here. These situations highlight how important it is to be respectful of wildlife, particularly when they are taking care of their young. No photo is worth causing the stress to birds that I observed in this instance.

I am happy to say that the next morning it was reported that the American Woodcock family had crossed the parking lot and was safely in the woods. Here is a video that I took of them before the crowds of people descended. Please note that this small group of birders was far back from the birds. You can see how close the birds were to the parking lot.

Advertisements

12 Comments

Filed under Ohio bird photography, The Biggest Week in American Birding

A Canoeing Adventure at The Biggest Week

When I signed up to go to The Biggest Week in American Birding, the field excursion “Birding by Canoe” caught my eye. There aren’t many places to go canoeing in New Mexico, and in fact my one experience in a canoe had been at Disneyland when I was ten years old. My excitement about a canoe trip was slightly tempered by apprehension when Kimberly Kaufman told me that CBS Sunday Morning would be filming during the trip. I had visions of my New Mexico derriere being filmed disappearing into the water. To be on the safe side, I left my DSLR at the cottage and took a point and shoot with me.

We met at the designated place at 6:00 a.m. We stood around chatting and waiting for the film crew to arrive. It looked as if it would be a gorgeous morning.

The Biggest Week in American Birding

Biggest Week Birders await the canoe trip.

When we reached the canoe launch site, we were instructed to choose life jackets.

The Biggest Week in American Birding

Prospective canoeists choose life jackets

We watched as the Sunday Morning crew made their preparations.

The Sunday Morning film crew makes their preparations.

The Sunday Morning film crew makes their preparations.

The Sunday Morning crew set off down Green Creek, and Kimberly Kaufman spied something on the stream bank: an Eastern Phoebe.

CBS News Sunday Morning

The CBS crew sets off in a canoe

We paddled toward the bay in the calm waters.

Tom Kashmer, a naturalist with Sandusky County Parks, and Serena enjoy the scenery

Tom Kashmer, a naturalist with Sandusky County Parks, and Serena Altschul with CBS News enjoy the scenery

Kimberly Kaufman and Katie Anderson show fine form

Kimberly Kaufman and Katie Andersen show fine form

The film crew had a boat with a small motor. The rest of us provided our own power.

News crew, with motor

News crew, with motor

We saw Bald Eagles throughout the morning, and I discovered that it is very difficult to take photos from a moving canoe.

Bald Eagle nest

Bald Eagle nest

Bald Eagle photo from a moving canoe

Bald Eagle photo from a moving canoe

We paddled out into the bay and listened as Tom Kashmer told us about the history of the area.

Paddling out into the bay

Paddling out into the bay

Tom Kashmer relates the history of the area

Tom Kashmer relates the history of the area

Kimberly Kaufman and CBS Sunday Morning Contributing Correspondent Serena Altschul were kind enough to allow me to take their photo.

Kimberly Kaufman, Serena Altschul

Kimberly Kaufman and Serena Altschul

It was a delightful and interesting trip with wonderful people, as are all of the adventures at The Biggest Week. What a wonderful festival!

CBS Sunday Morning will air a story on birding on May 26, 2013. The Biggest Week in American Birding will be featured in that segment. Be sure to watch!

11 Comments

Filed under Ohio bird photography, The Biggest Week in American Birding