Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Banding Blues

I’ve got withdrawal symptoms but not because I haven’t sampled the amber nectar for a while, it’s as good a remedy for the common cold as Dr Beecham’s if only because it sends a person to sleep. No, I’ve got the banding blues because the pliers haven’t been in real action for a while and a glimpse at the forecasts for the next few days suggest I should put them on EBay for a couple of quid. “Ringing pliers, need oiling and cleaning to restore to former glory. No longer required due to global warming. Best offer accepted”.

On the other side of the Atlantic we let them call ringing “banding”, but at least it means they don’t have to suffer from the dreadful predictable jokes about church bell ringing that UK ringers endure. Perhaps our buddies get a different set of quips about instruments, rock chicks or band groupies when the bird connection stirs a dismal “joke” from Pub Bore?

However we must admit they do get some colourful warblers over there that are fairly easy to identify, in spring at least, unlike our little brown jobs that occasionally require a photographic memory of both Svensonn and BWP before venturing an ID.

So as I didn’t get out birding or ringing today, tonight I’ll post a few pictures of the blue birds of Ontario to see if they cheer me up.

Incredible, how can a bunting be bright blue? Surely all buntings are shades of brown and orange with a bit of black if we’re lucky? Not Indigo Bunting, a truly spectacular bunting of which a picture can’t do credit and a bird which really knocked me out when I saw one for the first time despite mugging up in field guides.

I was similarly blown away by the silky, electric blue, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a species I probably didn’t expect to encounter as they are usually found high in the canopy not 8ft up in a mist net.

If you were over in the States without a field guide handy and had to come up with a name for a bird just glimpsed through the foliage, this one would be easy and obvious, Black-throated Blue Warbler. It couldn’t be called anything else but maybe if it was over here the BOU could devise something to outwit birders or at least change the name regularly.

The last slightly over exposed picture is of a Cerulean Warbler, but I can explain that.

Perhaps the best way to describe this bird is to say that the encyclopaedia tells me that the word Cerulean applies to a range of colors from deep blue, sky-blue, bright blue or azure through greenish blue colors. And that is just how the bird appears, depending on the ambient light it appears to change chameleon like to suit the ever changing light of the spring woodland. That’s my excuse for the photo or maybe I was just dazzled? A truly stunning bird.

That’s really cheered me up. Now I definitely won’t sell the pliers, excuse me while I delete my ad from EBay.

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