Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Boobies

I haven't been this excited to see a BOOBY since... since... well, it's been a long time. I could look at BOOBIES all day long really. I never tire of them. Masked Booby, Blue-footed Booby, Red-footed or Brown Booby. I like BOOBIES of all shapes, colors and sizes.Why all this BOOBY talk, you ask? Well, there has been some questionable sightings of a State record bird, the BROWN BOOBY (Sula leucogaster), off the coast of Assateague National Seashore.I was there this past Sunday morning at 6:45 AM looking for (at) this bird in question. My photos are terrible, but since when have you ever turned down the opportunity to look at blurry Booby photos? Hmmm, exactly. After I enjoyed the bird flapping around, then gliding for a bit, then a lot more flapping, I had my own quiet celebration. In my humble opinion, this bird couldn't be further from it's more-expected relative, the NORTHERN GANNETT. The bird banked ever-so-slightly, revealing a contrasting lighter belly, merely one identification marker that is indicative of a BROWN BOOBY.A minute later, my friend Stan Arnold called to tell me that the bird had been sighted. I took my scope off the ocean and looked up the beach, only to find a dune full of Maryland's finest birders. I soon joined them, as more eyes are better than my eyes alone. (I might rip into a Sheena Easton song soon... think James Bond. Nevermind.)The controversy, or the hearty discussion as it is probably best described, has been if not intense, then certainly thorough, amongst Maryland's finest birders. Some think it's an odd-looking (obviously odd-flying too, since it's so different) NORTHERN GANNETT. For comparison, we were lucky enough to have a NORTHERN GANNETT fly by on Sunday, just a short while after our 'possible' Brown Booby sighting. The two flight patterns could not have been more different. Okay, the Booby could've done loop-de-loops... but really, we're talking apples to acai fruit here.Now, I have neither the credibility, or the experience in the field to call this blurry mess a BROWN BOOBY. But either way, it made for a really fun weekend.All the best,

Dan

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