The pitfalls of Seanetting: a tale by Jerry Golub

23 02 2010

Being a Seanetter can be isolating work–out on the beaches in cold, wind, driven snow and sleet; even the most intrepid Seanetter can sometimes start to feel a bit uncertain of herself and her bird i.d. skills. We hope that our Dead Bird Quizzes help you all to feel like part of a larger community of dead bird seekers who often feel at a loss when faced with a carcass.

The scene in New Jersey--the "faux hawk" (made of rock) is here, as is an actual Peregrine falcon

Here, Seanetter Jerry Golub (New Jersey) has been selfless enough to share this tale of his most recent foibles out on the madness making winter shores. The subject line of his email: “Double Embarrassment”

“The weather relented and I was able to survey my beach today.  It was 38 & overcast, but no wind.  After only finding half of a dead RBGU and not very interesting live birds, I was almost back at my car when I saw a large falcon fly toward a jetty and harass a gull or pigeon.  I was pretty certain it was a Peregrine, but wanted to get closer for a better view and picture.

Do you see a bird in the lower half of the picture?  I thought I saw a hawk with a dark back and light face & underparts.  I approached and took pictures until I realized it was a rock!  I then relocated the Peregrine and took some pictures.

After photographing the Peregrine I returned to my car and a large white mass I must have passed an hour earlier turned out to be a dead GBBG!

I ID’ed a rock as a bird and missed a large dead bird!”

The "RockHawk" (circled in yellow) drew Jerry's attention, while a real Peregrine Falcon (red) wonders "What am I, chopped liver?"

Truly, we are all in this together, Seanetters. And the beaches and the birds will conspire to bewilder and confuse. Even the rocks, as Jerry now knows, will taunt you. So thank you for sticking with it, Seanetters. We couldn’t do it without you!

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3 responses

23 02 2010
Elizabeth Rock

HAA! I LOVE this story…it’s so EXACTLY something I would do! Jerry Golub, I salute thee. It can be really hard even on good days to make out the details of things against the water, stones, glare, etc; but on a winter beach it can be murderous. With the icy wind in your face, shoving the binocs around, and the weird flat light, anything can look like anything else. Or like nothing: last November I went out on a day just like that; cold, windy. Started down the beach, looking around, being all observant. Scanning around; saw nothing of interest as I headed past a large log cast up on the shore. You know how this comes out now, don’t you: as I blundered up to the log, it rolled over, picked up its head, and gazed calmly at me. A very large seal, resting on the beach. It was somewhat larger than a gull. And I had ID’d it as a log, until I was almost on top of it. siiiiiigh.
Anyhow, thanks for sending your story; you made my day.
LR

7 03 2010
jerry golub

Thanks for the comment Elizabeth. I too have been fooled by pinnepeds; many years ago at Ano Nueva, CA, home to nesting & loafing Sea Elephants, when unescorted vistors were allowed, I walked out on beach to see some. As I approached what I thought was a dead one mostly covered in sand it came to life before I realized I was inadvertantly violating the Sea Elephant Keep Out zone. Fortunately it wasn’t breeding season and I was not attacked.

After thinking about my last SeaNet survey, I feel that I did not miss the GBBG when I started walk, but rather it was killed by PEFA in the intervening 1.5 hours. The limp bird with breast ripped out is typical of a falcon kill according to Sarah.

11 03 2010
Megan Hines

Hah! I love this, my husband is always teasing me about all the interesting leaf birds I see during migration. (“OOOH, over there! is that a magnolia warbler?!” “no, that’s a leaf”.

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