Monday, May 20, 2013

Birding for Scholarships

Every May, in recent years, I have enjoyed staying connected to Earlham College (where I got my B.A. degree) by participating in Birding Big Day. Donors pledge money per bird species and alumni from all over the world go out to try to find as many bird species as they can over graduation weekend.


This year's birding big day was a lot of fun since we are in Europe and I'm trying to learn the birds here. I don't have a handle on European birdsongs yet so nearly all of these birds were ID'd by sight.  We were enroute by bicycle through the Baltics over the BBD weekend so this list encompasses northwestern Latvia through much of Estonia. The weather didn't cooperate with us (our most promising spot along the route, a migratory bird area on the Latvian coast, was completely socked in with fog when we passed through) but we still managed to see birds here and there in other places.

As it happens, my bird guide is in German (a translation of Hayman and Hume's 2009 guide)! Luckily Markus knows all the birds by their German names anyway so we just used those and I actually don't know the English common names for a lot of these birds.  We sent the list below with latin names - thanks to Bill Buskirk for adding English names to the list!
Feldlerche (Alauda arvensis)  Skylark
Weissstorch (Ciconia ciconia)  White Stork
Bachstelze (Motacilla alba)  White or Pied Wagtail
Kranich (Grus grus)  Common Crane
Elster (Pica pica) European Magpie
Graureiher (Ardea cinerea)  Gray Heron
Stockente (Anas platyrhynchos)  Mallard
Kiebitz (Vanellus vanellus)  Northern Lapwing
Buchfink (Fringilla coelebs)  Chaffinch
Kohlmeise (Parus major)  Great Tit
Braunkehlchen (Saxicola rubetra)  Whinchat
Wiesenschafstelze (Motacilla flava ssp. supercilians) Western Yellow Wagtail
Brandgans (Tadorna tadorna)  Shelduck
Lachmoeve (Larus ridibundus) Black-headed Gull
Rauchschwalbe (Hirundo rustica)  Barn Swallow
Nebelkrahe (Corvus cornix)  Hooded Crow
Saatkrahe (Corvus frugilegus)  Rook
Grunfink (Carduelis chloris)  Greenfinch
Haussperling (Passer domesticus)  House Sparrow
Eichelhaher (Garrulus glandarius)  European Jay
Amsel (Turdus merula)  European Blackbird (of 4 and 20 fame)
Loffelente (Anas clypeata)  Northern Shoveler
Hoeckerschwan (Cygnus olor)  Mute Swan
Neuntoeter (Lanius collurio)  Red-backed Shrike
Wacholderdrossel (Turdus pilaris)  Fieldfare
Ringeltaube (Columba palumbus)Wood Pigeon
Kuckuck (Cuculus canorus)  Common Cuckoo
Stieglitz (Carduelis carduelis)  European Goldfinch
Singdrossel (Turdus philomelos)  Song Thrush
Blasshuehn (Fulica atra)  European Coot
Rothalstaucher (Podiceps grisegena)  Red-necked Grebe
Rohrweihe (Circus aeruginosus)  Western Marsh Harrier
Weissrueckenspecht (Dendrocopus leucotos)  White-backed Woodpecker
Star (Sturnus vulgaris)  European Starling
Mausebuzzard (Buteo buteo)  Common Buzzard
Graugans (Anser anser)  Greylag Goose

Markus has been doing a lot of bird-related photography, though without a zoom lens we are limited in what we can capture. Here are a few from birding along our route (Big Day and otherwise) as well as from our continued work with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation to document roadkill observations.

Haubentaucher (a grebe) we saw in Finland. We have seen these all over Europe, but didn't see one during Birding Big Day!

Creative and impressive White Stork nest

Roadkill Gruenfink (Greenfinch) we spotted this morning in central Finland

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