Birding in the American Southeast

I recently wrote an article for the Saporta Report, a metropolitan Atlanta newspaper, on the joys and possibilities of birding in Georgia. It might have some useful information if you’re ever in the area and want to identify the birds that are flying by overhead, so check it out:

…While the awesome wilderness of, say, the mountains of north Georgia guarantee an incredible experience for birders and other naturalists, local parks and preserves like Lullwater have much to offer as well. Just recently, for example, I stopped in at the Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve (also in Decatur) and the Dunwoody Nature Center (in Dunwoody) and managed to get a few glimpses of some of the metro area’s more interesting avian visitors, including the pileated woodpecker, red-shouldered hawk, yellow-bellied sapsucker, and winter wren. A vigorous hike in Sweetwater Creek State Park (in Douglas County), also not far from downtown Atlanta, turned up a young Cooper’s hawk in addition to more common birds of the forest, such as titmice, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and so forth — a good day, considering that I was also treated to incredible vistas and the historic mill ruins on the Sweetwater’s banks. Continue reading

Bird-watching Trips with Tomás de Berlanga Students

Friday morning, at 9:30, my 10th-12th graders and I took two taxis down to Puerto Ayora to look for birds. We started at the intersection between the two main streets of the town: Baltra Rd, which is the same road all the way from the other side of the island at the canal separating Santa Cruz and Baltra, and Charles Darwin Ave, which is the southernmost street in the area and is lined with tourist shops and the ocean.

We walked down Charles Darwin Ave and easily pished some Yellow Warblers from bushes and overhanging trees on the sidewalks. A little space that cut towards the water and was surrounded by artisans’ booths (closed until the afternoon and evening) had a couple cacti with nests in them, and indeed we saw a pair of Cactus Finches fly away as we approached. Looking out over the water, we could see some frigatebirds circling around the Muelle de Pescadores—Fishermen’s Pier—and Brown Pelicans flapping towards it. We returned to the sidewalk and reached a zigzagging plank pathway that wound between red mangroves and led to stairs descending towards small boats moored next to the pier, and from there we could watch the action at the pier and the surrounding water from a good vantage point. Brown Pelicans, both adults in breeding plumage and the greyer juveniles, sat in the water and trees nearby, and waddled among the feet of the fishermen cleaning their fish. A couple of Lava Gulls were also underfoot, as well as a young sea lion!

The same scene awaited us on Monday afternoon, at 12:30PM, when I went back to the Puerto with nineteen 7th-9th graders and a fellow teacher, Andrew. Continue reading