Friday, June 27, 2014

Google Street Maps Birding

I've created a monster.  A nerd monster.  (Instead of terrorizing cities he sits in his mother's cave and plays Basements & Humans).

Occasionally I pass the time slowly scrolling along random streets captured in Google Street View looking for birds.  I'm not proud of it, but as far as Things To Do go it's better than a heroin addition.  I've been able to find a bunch of birds and it's allowed me to travel All Over The WORLD!

There are other images of our world out there on the internet, and one reader, Greg of the Greg and Birds site, has started to find birds in them.  In Google Maps.  Overhead, satellite, far-away images of teeny-tiny birds.  I don't know how he did it, but Greg zoomed way into a lake on the southwest side of Indianapolis (here are the coordinates: 39.851657,-86.302702) and found a ... bird.  I'm not exactly sure what it is.  I captured a screenshot:

Greg suggested Great Egret but the structure doesn't look right.  Maybe its head is tucked up.  The wing shape looks to me more like a gull, but I don't know.  Guesses welcome.

Thank you Greg for this opening up incredible, pathetic new frontier.  God help me when I lose my job for spending the day scanning the backgrounds of real estate photos trying to identify passerines on feeders in the neighbor's yard.  It's an odd world, my friends.


Reader Urs Geider sent in a comment with a link to this screenshot showing 38.872515, -90.172794 (the Riverlands area in Missouri, across the Mississippi from Alton, IL). Looks like American White Pelicans to me!  Awesome!  Thanks, Urs.

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Bunch of Photos From My Trip to Alaska

I don't like posting trip reports.  When I started this dumpy website, I wanted to fill the gap in the bird blogosphere between Hey Here's A Cardinal In My Backyard bird blogs and Here Is Some Insane Endemic Trogon I Discovered On An Island blogs.  Reports of my lame 30-species-days were not my area of interest.

But, dear reader, screw you.  It's my damn website and if I go to Alaska and see a ton of cool shit and lug around some huge lens everywhere to get pictures, then you're going to have to look at them.  So buckle in.

A quick note - my autofocus doesn't work.  I lucked into a Canon 30d camera body when my friend, it's previous owner, dropped it into a saltwater swamp.  He went to upgrade, I inquired about the condition of the damp body, he said it sorta worked, the rest is history.  Most of the time the thing works fine, but the electronic connections are rusty and there's not much communication between the lens and the body.  So some of the photos aren't that great and aren't in good focus but who cares.  Just so you know.

I traveled with my buddy Jake to Anchorage, Homer, Seward and Nome, Alaska.  I got 21 ABA lifers.  140 species total.  I drank a bunch of beers.  I saw musk oxen, sea otters, killer whales and guys smoking crack.  Here are some of the birds.

Northern Wheatear
Northern Wheatear

Golen Eagle
Golden Eagle

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