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Flights of Fancy Any birding-related observations that are not related to a specific outing.

Birding as a military operation?

Posted Wednesday 18th June 2008 at 01:01 by Terry O'Nolley
Updated Wednesday 18th June 2008 at 01:04 by Terry O'Nolley
A question was asked in the Birds and Birding forum about how to handle the post-migration doldrums.

I suggested really zeroing in on a specific lifer species that is breeding in your area and to pull out all the stops to try and find that species.

Switch from "birder" mode to "hunter" mode. Research. Figure out where that elusive species is most likely to be seen. Maybe it will involve a drive of several hours. If so, set your alarm clock for 3:30!

Instead of seeing your upcoming birding outing as a nice chance to walk in the woods and attempt to identify whichever birds happen to lackadaisically meander across your path, think of it in terms of a military operation!

Do some serious Google research (the S2/military intel part of the operation). Check up on breeding bird concentrations. Reference several intel assets and try to glean the most likely spot to encounter your target.

Then use the model of the US Army Ranger 5-paragraph OPORDER:[list][*][size=4][b]Situation[/b][/size][list][*]Enemy forces (the species you are after)[list][*]Disposition, Composition, and Strength (what is its rarity)[*]Capabilities (can it poop on you or attack your hat while making scary sounds?)[*]Most probable course of action (how easily is it spooked)[*]Weather and Terrain (will you need an umbrella? hiking shoes?)[/list][/list][*][size=4][b]Mission[/b][/size][list][*]Who (Yourself)[*]What (get a lifer tick for Cow-headed Jaybird)[*]Where (on top of Old Smoky)[*]When (tomorrow morning at 0330)[*]Why (because it is the summer doldrums and I need a challenge!)[/list][*][size=4][b]Execution[/b][/size][list][*]Concept of Operation (You will enter the southern reaches of the Great Birders Forest 0430 and establish an overwatch position on Doldrum Ridge NLT 0500 with the intention of mercilessly ticking a Cow-headed Jaybird)[*]Maneuver (You will maintain a heading of 135 degrees from the parking lot for 2130 metres and then box-traverse the bog with shortlegs of 180 metres and a long-leg of 340 metres to rejoin your intial heading and then proceed to parallel the treeline for 165 metres to reach your overwatch position)[/list][*][size=4][b]Service Support[/b][/size][list][*]General (external resources you will need to accomplish the mission)[*]Material and Services (gas station, Dunkin Donuts, etc.)[*]Personnel (must interface with the landowner to obtain clearance to enter the objective area)[/list][*][size=4][b]Command and Signal[/b][/size][list][*]Command (define who will take over the mission should you fall :D)[*]Signal (who to call on your cellphone if you get stuck in the mud)[/list][/list]

So shift your thinking from birding in general to very specific mission-oriented outings!
Cow-headed Jaybird
Comments 1 Terry O'Nolley is offline

The Magic of Hughes Hollow

Posted Monday 5th May 2008 at 02:23 by Terry O'Nolley
Updated Wednesday 18th June 2008 at 01:43 by Terry O'Nolley
Hughes Hollow is a place that doesn't officially exist. There are no state, county or city maps with "Hughes Hollow" on them. But birders all over Maryland know what it means when someone says "Hughes Hollow".

Hughes Hollow is a location within the McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area which lies just outside of the city of Poolesville, Maryland. It is a tract of land owned by the state of Maryland and publicly available 365 days year.

And it offers some of the best birding in the state.

Another good selling point for Hughes Hollow is that it borders the C&O Canal and a birding walk through Hughes Hollow could easily run together with a birding walk along the historic C&O canal and Potomac River.

If you want to take a look at what it looks like, here is the Google Maps link:

OK. So why do I call it "magic"? Because every time I get in a conversation with another birder there and they mention a bird they have seen at Hughes Hollow and I say something like "Good sighting! I have not seen a (fill in the blank) yet this year.", within a half hour or so, [b]I see that species[/b]. Seriously! It has happened over and over and over again. Species I have ticked right after having such a conversation include Palm Warbler, Indigo Bunting, Orchard Oriole, Baltimore Oriole, Common Yellowthroat, American Bittern and on and on. It is very strange...

I can't recommend a visit to Hughes Hollow highly enough! If you live in the DC metro region then you may want to consider making a day of birding Hughes Hollow.

I was there for 5 hours today (from 7:00 - 12:00) and saw over 40 species.

I can't recommend this place highly enough. If you live close enough to be considering birding the area, send me a PM and ask about whatever you are interested in. I can hopefully make your outing more productive.
Cow-headed Jaybird
Comments 2 Terry O'Nolley is offline

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