Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ringing in the New Year with birds

As cliché as it may sound, I can't believe the first week of 2011 is over. It got off to a great start on January 2nd as I participated in my first-ever Christmas Bird Count. Probably the oldest citizen science project out there, Christmas Bird Counts have been taking place since the year 1900. Isn't that amazing? I keep hearing that birding as a hobby has been gaining in popularity in recent years, but it's obviously been of interest to a lot of people for a long time for such a project to be entering its 111th year.

Counts happen all over the Americas during a period from mid-December to early January. I participated in the Hocking Hills count, where I met up with friends Jim McCormac and Nina Harfmann, and two new birding acquaintances, Peter and Gabe. We had so much fun during the 6-1/2 hours or so that we scoured the hollers of the Hocking Hills.

Nina, Peter, Gabe and Jim. Trust me, there really are 4 people in this picture.

The day just flew by, too. Overall, we tallied 54 species seen and heard for the day. Unfortunately, I missed the 2 Bald Eagles that flew over the parking lot where we all met (I was the last to arrive), but I made up for that today when I saw one fly across the highway.

We were there mainly for the birds, but it's not too hard for me to get distracted by other things, especially when the scenery is so lovely.

I could have taken pictures of frozen puddles forever, but there were birds to be counted!

The sun shines down upon us on this quiet country road. Some spots were very birdy, others were remarkably quiet.

Dilapidated old barns abound, begging to be appreciated for their beauty. Maybe Barn Swallows live here in the summer.

No birding trip with Jim would be complete without a little bit of botany on the side. Myself, Nina and Peter were all in for a special treat when Jim shared with us the endangered Appalachian Filmy Fern, one of only two known colonies of said fern in the state of Ohio. Given its fragile status, we were all sworn to secrecy as to its location. My photos don't do justice to the delicate nature of this fern, which Jim says is merely 1 cell thick. I would be interested in trying to get photos that capture their translucent quality, but I don't want to disturb the site more than necessary.

"Baby" fronds of Appalachian Filmy Fern

It puts me a little in the mind of parsley, this special fern. For more information about the Appalachian Filmy Fern, check out Jim's blog.

Happy Birdy (and ferny) New Year to you!


KaHolly said...

I hope everyone who spent the day counting birds had as good a time as you! WOW on that fern! I'll definitely have to check out Jim's blog and learn more about it. Heather, I was quite enamoured with the picture of the old barn. It's a real beauty! ~karen

nina said...

How did I miss your taking these shots? Stealthy Heather, with the camera hiding out behind scarves, coats, mittens, binoculars,...
I had the BEST time getting out with all of you. The Hocking Hills area is a beautiful part of the state.
I love the entangled barn, as well.

Heather said...

Karen - I think I can at least speak for everyone in our group as to the good time we had. And I made Nina stop the car so I could get some shots of the barn. ;)

Nina - Yes, I'm sneaky like that! I had to make up for lack of bird photos with some nice scenery shots instead. I'm really glad you were able to join us!