Monday, March 26, 2007

Additional Greetings, Comrades: the cleverness of our plan is quite apparent!

We must continue this tail of our noble efforts to convert the one you call BINAC to our glorious ways.
First we show our superior weaponry:

Not all of our weapons have disintegrated into such a state of disrepair:

Next we take this BINAC on tour of Communist collective farm and cereal factory. It is only one building:

Next we tour Communist Art Museum, and listen to several hours of Yakov Smirnov jokes. We all have laughter from deep in the belly! (Comrade Yakov is currently undercover in American military base called Branson Missouri.)

This Communizing makes a loyal patriot hungry, so we stop at local Communist housing collective called "Red Star on Tower of Water" for quick snack.

Cleanliness standards are quite impressive!

Finally, we go head down main Russian Audobon to city:

There we have great feeding at five-star Marzist restaurant--barbed wire at no additional charge -- and dine on fine CCPizza:

You Amerikans should be paying us to take tour such as this!
However, since the one you call BINAC has not resisted, we must consider more severe methods. Perhaps we may place nails into barrels and put certain persons into barrels and roll certain barrels then down hill into certain river.
Then we will see whether ransom will be paid.
Resistance is feudal--BINAC will soon submit to the lures of Mother Russia!.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Greetings again, Comrade Birders!

We have regained control of your mighty intern-net.

We will return as soon as your Vice-President Al Gore repairs computer net and allows our connection to continue.

Later, Comrades.

Do *not* panic...everything is under control.

Please ignore that last message.

We are not sure what is going on, but someone hacked into the site yesterday, and the IP address was somewhere in Eastern Europe.

We have not heard from the part of the crew that is in Hungary since Thursday. It is possible that some sort of kidnapping situation has occurred. Since BINAC has no formal relations with Hungary, we have asked the Swedish Embassy in Budapest for assistance. We have also contacted a former SAS man in Bucharest, but apparently that is not even in the same country as Budapest, and it will take him several days to reach Budapest on his towns fastest donkey.

We are trying to raise the money for the ransom, but so far all we have collected is a few lottery tickets that have already been scratched off. Boy Scouts are trying to raise the money but rumor has it that the funds are going to be paid to the kidnapped to *not* return the rest of the crew safe and alive.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Greetings, Comrade Birders

We are esteemed representatives of the most glorious former socialist satellite Soviet republic called Hungary.

We inform you now that the capitalist swine you call BINAC has been captured by glorious forces of allies of Mother Russia.

This swine BINAC has been taken to our Parliament,

where our leaders have tortured this BINAC until our peoples representatives learned the secrets of the Amerikan top secret rekreational vehicle.

We now have this BINAC in an inpenetrable and inpregnable castle that cannot be penetrated.

Unlike our local socialist prostitutes, this castle cannot be penetrated or impregnated.

We will be holding this fiend until you pay our ransom of ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS. We also require secret information about the other Amerikan birder we know only by his secret code name, MR. GUPPY.

If this BINAC means nothing to you, you will not pay this exorbitant sum.

But we want you to pay, so we can purchase women and cheap vodka.

To show we are serious, here is evidence of this Amerikan top secret telescopic device, captured from the spy BINAC, a device which has now volunteeringly defected to our glorious cause:

Comrades out!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

About that mystery sparrow... is indeed the rare "House Sparrow." Congratulations to all who made the proper identification.

So, why did we post about that photo? Is this just another case of the evil BINAC mocking others for fun and profit?


We had a point to make. Two actually.

The first point is pretty obvious: Even people who consider themselves to be birders, and who regularly post to birding listserves, sometimes make mistakes on insanely easy species. (Insert random woodpecker joke here.)

The second point is a bit more obtuse but explains the first: Nobody learns how to bird anymore!

Before the Internet, this is how you learned how to "bird." You got a pair of binoculars, bought a field guide, and went out into the field. In the field, you struggled (unless you were a prodigy--you know who you are), got frustrated, and got discouraged.

But if you stuck with it, you eventually saw the light. You ran into another local birder, joined a local club, or went on a field trip, and you met other birders. Birders who were *better* than you, and who could show you how to separate Savannah from Song Sparrows -- in the field, not a book, or in your living room in front of a computer. These other birders didn't just *want* to help, they saw it as their obligation, their way of repaying the debt they owed to the birders who taught and mentored them.

That doesn't happen today as much as it should. The Internet has equalized everyone. With the digital cameras we have today, anyone can take a photo of an unknown bird they see, and have other people identify it for them. But that's not learning. You have to be able to make those id calls, in the field, by yourself. And the only way you can do that is to spend the time in the field, work through the tough spots, and get help from people who can actually show you how to make those calls in the field.

You know, the whole "teach a man how to fish" thing.

We know this generalization doesn't apply to everyone, but it applies to a lot of us. It's a two way street; experienced birders have to be willing to give their help, while newbie birders have to be willing to aceept the fact that they don't know everything, and be willing to take the help that is offered.

Gone Birdin'

We'll be headed overseas again tonight, hopefully someone back in the States will be able to post a few updates to the site while we're gone.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Why should you be nice to visiting birders?

Answer tomorrow.

And the answer is: Because that birder may find a stunning first state record bird and report it promptly, just like Missouri birder David Faintich and his group from St. Louis, who found Florida's first White Wagtail this week!

Update: There were some nice photos posted as attachments, but we don't want to steal those, so here is a link to someone who took some of the photos: Hopefully he will post photos of the White Wagtail soon, but it's a nice site to check out anyway.

The bird is apparently a smoker.

Monday, March 19, 2007

olivacea R.I.P.

We just noted this message on one of the Florida lists:


I received word this afternoon that long-time Florida birder, Noel Wamer of Jacksonville, passed away Sunday evening. I don't have any other details at this time, but thought those who knew him would want to know. In recent years, Noel kept the birding community updated on spring migratory movement coming north out of Cuba on his "badbirdz blog". The following self-assessment was taken from that blog...I am a grumpy old man who lives in northeast Florida. I have a major interest in birds, especially tracking migration using weather radars. Politically I am a godless liberal, placing me in the most oppressed minority in the world (4.7 percent of the population).

UPDATE: Here is a link to an obituary, with lots of nice comments from birder folks:

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Announcing the 2007 America's Birdiest City and County Competition

We were forwarded the following e-mail today regarding the 2007 ABC contest:

Hello to everyone,

I would like to welcome everyone back who has participated in the America's Birdiest City/County competition in the past and all newcomers, also. Before I go any further I would like to introduce myself.

My name is Mike Wilson and I live just west of Mobile, Alabama, about 45 miles north of Dauphin Island, Alabama. I am very honored that Phil Pryde has chosen me to coordinate the ABC/C competition. Phil has done a wonderful job setting up a birding competition that is fun to participate in and different from other counts around the country. I am not in this alone, however. Dr. John Porter, Executive Director of Dauphin Island Bird Sancturaries (DIBS) has offered the sevices of their organization and website. DIBS, formally known as Friends of Dauphin Island Audubon Society, was established in the mid 80's to protect and preserve the 165 acre Audubon Sanctuary on Dauphin Island. Since then they have grown and now work tirelessly in purchasing key bird habitat on the island, protecting it from future development. As everyone is aware, the biggest problem the birds face is loss of habitat. As a barrier island Dauphin Island a strategic stopover spot for migrating birds that need a safe place to rest and refuel. DIBS has purchased lots on the island that are diverse in habitat, ranging from tupelo gum swamp to wooded lots that are home to some of the oldest live oaks along the gulf coast.

We have not made any changes in the rules of the competition from last year. You can pick your 72 hour period in which to have your count between April 1 and May 31. When you have finished your count you will need to email the results to me. I will periodically send out emails as reminders and you are always welcome to email me with any questions you might have. I am including the city/county categories and the rules below. You can also visit the DIBS website for information.

We are having beautiful sping weather here on the Alabama gulf coast already and I'm exited about migration. I hope everyone has good weather and a great count!Let's go birding!


Here are the categories:

Large Coastal City (population over 100,000)
Large Inland City (population over 100,000)
Small Coastal City (population under 100,000)
Small Inland City (population under 100,000)
Inland Eastern County
Inland Western County
Coastal Gulf Coast County
Coastal Atlantic County
Coastal Pacific County

The Rules:In order to have all teams in the "America's Birdiest City" and "America's Birdiest County" ("ABC/C") competitions operating in the same manner, and to insure a "level playing field" for all participants, the following conventions have been developed to guide "ABC/C" teams in the field The main "rules of the game" are as follows:

1. All entrants must conduct their "ABC/C" Bird-a-thon between the dates of April 1 and May 31.

2. "ABC/C" competitors must record all bird identifications within the legal boundaries of their selected city or county. For "City" entrants, most automobile club and Thomas Bros. maps show city limits; birding in suburbs and in unincorporated areas is not permitted. For both City and County entrants, be sure that birds aloft and those identified by call are within your city or county's boundaries.

3. For coastal cities, the "birdable area" extends one mile (i.e., as far as you can scope) out into salt water (or Lake water) from the shore, or from offshore islands that are legally a part of the city or county involved. All birds counted must be identified from land (this rule results from a participants' poll taken in 2003, and mainly reflects the fact that the participants were not at all in agreement as to how far out into the ocean should be considered part of a city [or county]).

4. All cities or counties that enter will select a 72-hour bird-a-thon "window" for their count. You may have as many teams as you like and teams can have as many members as you like. All teams and participants are allowed to count the whole 72 hour window.

5. "ABC/C" bird-a-thon entrants can use any number of participants and teams they wish.

6. All birds, to be officially countable, must be positively identified as to species by sight or sound (the honor system is employed here). No "sps", please (i.e., no genera/family entries, such as "Loon, sp.").

7. Only ABA-approved birds are countable; no psilly psittacines, please!

8. Any rare birds encountered should be written up, just as at a Christmas count.

9. "ABC" Bird-a-thon teams respect private property and in general comply with all the "rules of birding ethics" that have been published by groups such as ABA or NAS.

10. "ABC" Bird-a-thon teams must promptly provide the coordinator (below) with a summary of their results that includes a complete list of all species identified. This write-up verifies your sightings and allows a credible comparison of results. The write-up must be received by the coordinator by May 31.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Breaking News: New species for the ABA area?

The Florida birding lists are reporting a Loggerhead Kingbird at Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West, Florida, a spot we have visited many times.

One of the posters mentioned that this would be a first North American record; we don't have our ABA-area lists to check this, but it certainly is a great rarity for Florida.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

You might have noticed a few changes around here...

..and we can assure you that they were unintentional!

Actually, we were sued by Mr. Guppy, so we had to take the site down...oh we're just kidding.

What really happened is that when we switched over from Blogger to Google...blah blah blah....technical crap....blah blah blah...Google sucks...blah blah blah...wrong template saved...blah blah blah...shit disappears...blah blah blah...and you get the picture. Anyway, we've sort of decided to start fresh, we will get some of the standard links and counters back up when we can, but don't expect it to happen overnight.

If you've been paying attention to the recent comments there is some interesting stuff going on commenter called another a "dough-head fascist" and "jingoistic fuck," while the Lovely Birdchick expressed her unyielding love for all things BINAC.

Good stuff.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Mystery Sparrow in Florida--ID Help Needed!!!

A Florida birder has requested help in identifying this "unknown sparrow." We thought about sending the photo to ID-Frontiers, or maybe even to, but we're not sure those folks would be able to come up with an appropriate response.

Here's the unknown sparrow--can anyone id this species?: