[Tweeters] Field Notes and Photos

Brad Waggoner wagtail at sounddsl.com
Mon Feb 4 08:27:18 PST 2008

Hi All,

One quirky-looking Gyrfalcon can sure generate some terrific discussion.
I agree with Wayne Weber's comments about taking good field notes if
one is lucky enough to stumble upon some rare bird. And I am sure that
records committee members love when they have photographic evidence
supported by excellent field notes. I bet this was the case with the
Smith's Longspur found by those fortunate ones in Marymoor Park. But, I
assume these types of reports make up a small percentage of the reports
they see.

Oh, but what do I do first? Do I grab the camera or pull-out the pencil
and notepad. I know when I was a young, budding birder in my teens (my
learning curve was and is much longer than Charlie's), I would almost
immediately thumb through the field guide rather than give the bird a
thorough study noting all possible field marks. Boy, was this a tough
habit to break. So naturally, given I am a lousy note-taker it is
difficult for me to immediately start writing notes. And I have also
loss track of some potentially "good" birds by fumbling around with my
video camera.

Although I still have to fight-off some of my old bad habits,
I think I have now worked-out a fairly good system. Most importantly I
think I have learned to give the bird (if it allows) a thorough once
over attempting to note visible and obvious field marks. And then, being
the lousy note-taker, I pull-out my cell phone and punch one button to
call my business phone line. Since nobody answers this line except me, I
then proceed to leave a long-winded message describing the bird as I am
studying it in the scope (or perhaps shortly after views through my
binoculars). I have also used my video camera just to capture my verbal
description of the bird. Anyway, then the camera and lastly the field or
in the car note-taking (before opening the field guide!). Given a
semi-cooperative bird this seems to work for me.

Cheers and good birding, note-taking, picture-taking, etc.
Brad Waggoner
Bainbridge Island, Washington
mailto:wagtail at sounddsl.com

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