Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!!

To one and all!!!

Warren's Thanksgiving will be complete if his birds - the Ravens - beat the Steelers tonight. Yes, Warren, Adam and Mitch are going to the game.

Meanwhile, here is a Holiday treat: a preview of the soon to be published Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology Since Darwin, by Princeton University Press.

Happy Thanksgiving
The Birdcouple

Monday, November 25, 2013

Looking back on 7 years

Ruddy Turnstone

Hard to believe it has been seven years since Birdcouple the blog first got up and running. In November 2006, George W. Bush was still President, our boys Mitch and Adam were in their teens still, and Lisa and Warren were still fairly new. (It always feels new, babe). We had probably just hiked 200 miles of the Appalachian Trail, not the nearly 1,200 we have done today.

That's a long run for a blog, and we intend to keep it going.

A lot has changed indeed, but we think blogs still very much have a place in a social media space crowded with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, SnapChat, etc.  You can of course check us out on Twitter and Facebook, too.

Our focus will always be the same:  love of nature and each other; the joys of birding, traveling and hiking; and most of all, the urgent need for conservation.

With that preamble, we'd like to dedicate this post to all the wonderful friends and colleagues who have helped share the journey:

To best birding buds Paul Baicich and Peter Kaestner (and the Kaestner clan!) who have been our guides and mentors...

To Ross Geredien, who does so much for conservation in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County...

To Dan Haas, the funnest (and funniest) birding companion ever, and a great musician...

To Tim Carney - go with that big year - and the great new generation of young Maryland birders...

To Carlos Bethancourt and the great gang at Canopy Tower in Panama...

To Dave and "The Doodles" in Ohio

To Leslie Starr and Joe Turner, our partners in this year's Rarity Roundup...

And to Maryland birders across the state - they are the best in the land - including Jim Stasz, Jim Brighton, Bill Hubick, Matt Haffner, Mark Hoffman, Ron Gutberlet, Mikey and Jo Lutmerding, Leo Weigant and Karen Caruso, Joe Hanfman, Kevin Graff, Fred Shaeffer, Jeff Shenot, Jeff Culler and so many more...

It's been a great adventure so far. You never know who you will meet or what you will find: 


All friends and treasures we never would have met without birds!  Birding has introduced us to an amazing set of people who we, likely, would have never met without sharing an interest in seeing and conserving birds and bird habitat. 

With such good friends, who could imagine a happier (bird) couple?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Number One should be Birding!

Came across this lovely reminder of how happy people operate here

And although it has nothing to do with birding, I found it a good reminder that you are in control of your own happiness!  

The 21 Habits of Happy People.....

Appreciate Life

Be thankful that you woke up alive each morning. Develop a childlike sense of wonder towards life. Focus on the beauty of every living thing. Make the most of each day. Don’t take anything for granted. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
2. Choose Friends Wisely

Surround yourself with happy, positive people who share your values and goals. Friends that have the same ethics as you will encourage you to achieve your dreams. They help you to feel good about yourself. They are there to lend a helping hand when needed.
3. Be Considerate

Accept others for who they are as well as where they are in life. Respect them for who they are. Touch them with a kind and generous spirit. Help when you are able, without trying to change the other person. Try to brighten the day of everyone you come into contact with.
4. Learn Continuously

Keep up to date with the latest news regarding your career and hobbies. Try new and daring things that has sparked your interest – such as dancing, skiing, surfing or sky-diving.
5. Creative Problem Solving

Don’t wallow in self-pity. As soon as you face a challenge get busy finding a solution. Don’t let the set backs affect your mood, instead see each new obstacle you face as an opportunity to make a positive change. Learn to trust your gut instincts – it’s almost always right.
6. Do What They Love

Some statistics show that 80% of people dislike their jobs! No wonder there’s so many unhappy people running around. We spend a great deal of our life working. Choose a career that you enjoy – the extra money of a job you detest isn’t worth it. Make time to enjoy your hobbies and pursue special interests.
7. Enjoy Life

Take the time to see the beauty around you. There’s more to life than work. Take time to smell the roses, watch a sunset or sunrise with a loved one, take a walk along the seashore, hike in the woods etc. Learn to live in the present moment and cherish it. Don’t live in the past or the future.
8. Laugh

Don’t take yourself – or life to seriously. You can find humor in just about any situation. Laugh at yourself – no one’s perfect. When appropriate laugh and make light of the circumstances. (Naturally there are times that you should be serious as it would be improper to laugh.)
9. Forgive

Holding a grudge will hurt no one but you. Forgive others for your own peace of mind. When you make a mistake – own up to it – learn from it – and FORGIVE yourself.
10. Gratitude

Develop an attitude of gratitude. Count your blessings; All of them – even the things that seem trivial. Be grateful for your home, your work and most importantly your family and friends. Take the time to tell them that you are happy they are in your life.
11. Invest in Relationships

Always make sure your loved ones know you love them even in times of conflict. Nurture and grow your relationships with your family and friends by making the time to spend with them. Don’t break your promises to them. Be supportive.
12. Keep Their Word

Honesty is the best policy. Every action and decision you make should be based on honesty. Be honest with yourself and with your loved ones.
13. Meditate

Meditation gives your very active brain a rest. When it’s rested you will have more energy and function at a higher level. Types of meditation include yoga, hypnosis, relaxation tapes, affirmations, visualization or just sitting in complete silence. Find something you enjoy and make the time to practice daily.
14. Mind Their Own Business

Concentrate on creating your life the way you want it. Take care of you and your family. Don’t get overly concerned with what other people are doing or saying. Don’t get caught up with gossip or name calling. Don’t judge. Everyone has a right to live their own life the way they want to – including you.
15. Optimism

See the glass as half full. Find the positive side of any given situation. It’s there – even though it may be hard to find. Know that everything happens for a reason, even though you may never know what the reason is. Steer clear of negative thoughts. If a negative thought creeps in – replace it with a positive thought.
16. Love Unconditionally

Accept others for who they are. You don’t put limitations on your love. Even though you may not always like the actions of your loved ones – you continue to love them.
17. Persistence

Never give up. Face each new challenge with the attitude that it will bring you one step closer to your goal. You will never fail, as long as you never give up. Focus on what you want, learn the required skills, make a plan to succeed and take action. We are always happiest while pursuing something of value to us.
18. Be Proactive

Accept what can not be changed. Happy people don’t waste energy on circumstances beyond their control. Accept your limitations as a human being. Determine how you can take control by creating the outcome you desire – rather than waiting to respond.
19. Self Care

Take care of your mind, body and health. Get regular medical check ups. Eat healthy and work out. Get plenty of rest. Drink lots of water. Exercise your mind by continually energizing it with interesting and exciting challenges.
20. Self Confidence

Don’t try to be someone that you’re not. After all no one likes a phony. Determine who you are in the inside – your own personal likes and dislikes. Be confident in who you are. Do the best you can and don’t second guess yourself.
21. Take Responsibility

Happy people know and understand that they are 100% responsible for their life. They take responsibility for their moods, attitude, thoughts, feelings, actions and words. They are the first to admit when they’ve made a mistake.
Begin today by taking responsibility for your happiness. Work on developing these habits as you own. The more you incorporate the above habits into your daily lifestyle – the happier you will be.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Life list

Birders keep lists for all sorts of reasons. Some of it is competition, to be sure, as in - I'm #1 in bird species in Maryland this year, or I've photographed more species of birds in Tuvalu than anyone!!!

But there are other, more altruistic reasons, as well. Bird records help us keep track of when migratory species arrive and leave each year, and whether that is changing, and to record shifts in bird populations. They also make sure rare birds are properly noted and verified.

Finally, bird records serve as memories. Warren recently had the pleasure of shifting the bulk of his records from a program named AviSys (which he still uses for specialty records, like our Appalachian Trail bird list) to eBird. Birdcouple was able to relive past birding trips to the Florida Keys, Namibia, India, Arizona and elsewhere.

The bottom line? Warren has seen 1,056 of the world's approximately 10,000 bird species, with records of at least one bird in more than 30 countries. Lovely Lisa is not far behind, with about 900 species.

Photo by Glen Tepke
Warren's 1000th bird was a Gray-lined Hawk, soaring over the Parque Natural Metropolitano in Panama City, Panama. What a great Millennium Bird.!!
That's all for now. Gotta go find more birds....

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Afghan postcards, Part 2

Spanish Sparrow

Back in June, we posted about BBF (Birdcouple Best Friend) Peter Kaestner, who is in Afghanistan. It will come as no surprise that Peter has already built a super Afghanistan list of 110 birds (last we heard).

If he finds a species that no one has ever seen in Afghanistan before, we will be unsurprised.

Here are a few recent shots he kindly shared.  (For the record, Warren's Afghanistan list is five species: Common Myna, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Eurasian Magpie, Laughing Dove and Rose-Ringed Parakeet.

Desert Warbler

Eurasian Skylark
     And a distant Northern Lapwing:
Peter helpfully informed us that the fruit in the last post is a Persimmon, not a Crabapple. The man knows everything.