Saturday, November 14, 2009
In Praise of Satellite Images
If you're anything at all like me, you quickly get bored with the standard birding locations. After half a dozen visits, most places become boring, even dreary, to bird. You could range farther afield and bird new locations, but that takes time and money. Others opt to bird some local spot day after day. A good way to find rarities, but I get sick of seeing the same Yellow-rumps and juncos at Irvine Regional Park after a few futile visits. Satellite images, I've discovered, provide an way to discover new birding nooks and crannies close to home.
When I look at satellite images to scout out birding spots, I look for green patches--trees and other vegetation--particularly in urban areas. Islands of habitat in the city can be excellent birding spots. Bodies of water are also worth investigating in such water-starved places as Orange County.
The image at the top of this post shows my newest satellite image discovery. This square of green in eastern Orange immediately caught my attention as I explored the area online, imagining myself a tired bird flying overhead looking for somewhere suitable to stop. This spot is an apartment complex a couple of miles from my house. I rode my bike there last week, and was pleasantly surprised to find it a very lush place, vegetated with many pines and ornamental trees. Good sign.
I stepped up to a line of trees and began pishing. Immediately, several Western Tanagers (fairly rare in the winter), Townsend's Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and others popped up. In the thirty minutes I wandered around the place, I was struck by the numbers of birds--nothing unusual, but fun all the same. I'll have to keep tabs on the place.
My recommendation to you? Get onto google.com/maps, punch in your address, and scan the satellite images for interesting little birding places within a few miles of your house. Who knows what's waiting to be found?