beginner birder

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Sepulveda Basin – Birding Summary

Birds are starting to get more and more colorful as spring gets closer.

I went birding Saturday morning at the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve in the San Fernando Valley. The bird walk was led by Kris Ohlenkamp, the man who organized and oversaw the Christmas Bird Count for the area.

Our plan was to meet the group there at 8AM to begin, we arrived about five after 8 and as we got out of the car, we realized that when we gathered our things before we left, the camera was left at the house!

beginner birder

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Aerial Feeding of The Gulls and other birds spotted around the park

During my morning trip to the nearby Lake Balboa, the sun was shining and the place was alive with birds of all sorts: Red-wing Blackbirds, American Coots, House Finches, Mallards, Sparrows, Grackles, you get the idea.

They are all hungry for food, most find their own breakfast, but some birds are really aggressive and pandering to get handouts from people— those birds are Ring-Billed Gulls.

beginner birder's gull guide cover

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The Beginner Birder’s Gull Guide

Gulls can be confusing! Here are a few tricks to help tell some of the more common gulls apart.

This gull guide is for adult birds only. Gulls get even more tricky than depicted here, due to the fact that juvenile gulls are completely different colors, usually brown with a black bill. Juvenile identification will take more practice, but start with learning the differences between adult gulls, then focus on the young ones. These are the four main gulls I’ve seen in Southern California:

spotted towhee before and after editing

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Editing Bird Photos: A Beginner’s Guide

You’ve just returned from your first birding trip with a camera full of photos, now you’re ready to go through them all, edit them, and post them for the world to enjoy. Let’s get started! In this guide I’m going to be showing you how to edit bird photos with Adobe Lightroom CS6. This article shows some of the tweaks I make to my photos before posting them online, but won’t go into the technical things that each change does, you’ll see it for yourself as you edit your own photos.

Why Lightroom instead of Photoshop?

There are two main advantages of using Lightroom to edit your photos.

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Beginner Birding Mistakes

If you’re thinking about going on your first bird walk or bird outing here are 8 things you should avoid.

1. Wearing Bright Colors

Bright colors like white amplify movement and make you contrast with your surroundings. Subdued earth toned are best. Birds see more color than we do (even UV) so they’ll be sensitive to colors that far contrast what they are used to seeing.

2. Making Loud Noises

Remember to silence your cellphone (if you even have service!), and keep loud talking to a minimum when necessary. If you are trying to get a good shot or spot a bird that’s close-by, you don’t want to scare it away. You’ll eventually get shushed by other birders if you’re a jabber box. This is less important when viewing birds at far distances, like most water birds.

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eBird: The Gamification of Birding?

Growing up in the ’90s you could definitely consider me a part of the “Pokémon Generation.” Throughout my childhood I played games like Sonic, Zelda, Mario, but the one that seemed to have the biggest impact on me and my friends was Pokémon. We spent countless hours battling, training, trading—but most of all collecting Pokémon.

I confess to still being a fan of the series and continue to play the newest games today (while gleefully passing on “adult” shooter and sports games).

What does this have to do with birds?