Sunday, January 29, 2012

Snow buntings...

Today was not a good day to bird.  There were lots of hawks and vultures out but that meant most birds were going to be in hiding. Add that to the high winds and huge number of dogs out and that's a recipe for a bad birding day. The High winds also meant that birds would be hard to find and reluctant to come out. So there wasn't much to see. Even though the weather was difficult to see birds, it was great to be outside. The Beach in winter is a great place to see birds and catch some sun. Although it would be insane to be tanning in the middle of January. In any case, I did manage to get a new bird for 2012. In the parking lot, there are always horned larks. Which are a great bird to see. But Today as I check out the horned larks, i saw a flash of white... hmm... odd as horned larks are most definitely not White. Out come the binoculars. Well there's definitely something there but I can't see it through the binoculars so out comes the scope. 2 Snow Buntings in the flock of larks. So that's a new bird for 2012! Great day all and all. Great day to go and see birds. A second spot showcased some Common Mergansers, Gulls, Black Ducks, Gadwalls and Mute Swans, not new birds for 2012 or my life list, but beautiful birds to see and enjoy!

Outing #10
Snow Bunting

2012 Total: 50!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Hairy Friend

So, while Daylight continues to linger and linger, I will continue to take advantage and go birding after work. Today, I stopped by a heavily wooded pond. One of the many things I love about birding is that in one moment there can be pure silence but if you are willing to give up a little time, then you can see a birds and all sorts of life pop up before you. Today was that sort of day. Nothing and then little flutters of birds here and there. The only new bird for 2012 was a Hairy Woodpecker. I did see some Red-Breasted Mergansers too. The biggest development of the day was 2 mystery birds. One was very very small and was alone flying from branch to branch and another was fair large, gray back about the size of a herring gull but also flying branch to branch. Neither were around long enough for me to get a positive ID and both flew into the sunlight. Guess I will have a reason to go back and look around some more! In the meantime, Here are the year totals and a picture I took of a Hairy WP.

Outing #9
Hairy Woodpecker

2012 Total: 49

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I wish I had a feeder

There is of course a difference between birding and bird watching. The key difference is where you are. Are you sitting by a feeder or are you on a trail somewhere canvas a forest or beach looking? The Former generally conjures images of lazy sundays, rocking chairs and crossword puzzles. The later conjures images of binoculars, hordes of people in khaki vests and frayed books. So while both are fun and have their stereotypes, both are great ways to see birds. An established feeder is especially good at attracting different types of birds. At or near feeders I've seen Red-Headed WPs, Yellow Bellied WPs, Cooper's Hawks, White-Breasted and Brown-Backed Nuthatches and Brown Creepers. Which brings to my lack of a bird feeder. My association doesn't like bird feeders so I am out of luck. Whenever I find a good feeder, I find it hard to take my eyes away. You literally never know what will show up. The other day, I found a Dark-eyed Junco outside a local feeder, not a new bird for me, but a new one for 2012 since I don't have a feeder that they like to frequent. I can dream of building a yard perfect for birds. Lots of different kinds of feeders, suet, nectar and oriole feeders along with mulberry trees and lots of bird houses and baths. I hear that there used to be a couple of birders in texas along the gulf coast with such a yard who found all sorts of migrants in the yard. Well, one day, just not today...

Dark-eyed Junco
Song Sparrow

2012 Total: 47

**Added Note**
On the way home from a visit to the local Nature Reserve (pics up later), I saw a about 5 Black Vultures just sitting in some trees along the highway. I guess they were keeping an eye open for roadkill, but a pretty cool bird and Life Bird for me

Outing #8
Black Vulture *LB

2012 Total *updapted*: 48

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ice on the Pond and Cold in the Air

Birding has been tough the past few days. Cold Weather, Arctic winds, and cloudy have been the latest challenges. Now I didn't say I didn't bird. I went out twice Sunday and once today. Got some great pics of a Great Blue Heron and two mute swans sitting on the ice. When I went to go get pictures. Someone had scared off the Great Blue and he had flow over and was sitting in a nearby Osprey Nest Platform. It made for a great photo-op. I've attached 2 photos from today.

Sunday's birding was a bit more adventurous. Once again, I was on the prowl for the Snowy Owl. I am starting to come to grips with the fact that the snowy owl might just be my new nemesis. After all, I'd have to be at work, in the middle of something to not drop everything and rush out to see it. and I check the listservs and alerts manically. Well, in any case, there was no luck and I could not find a Snowy Owl or any owl for that matter. But I did see a Cooper's Hawk. Not only did I see him, but he ended up being about 15 ft from me when spotted. A small hawk but still very awesome. A quick stop by the harbor was more fruitful. Lots of gulls and ducks. I got some great new life birds and birds for 2012! List is below.

The ruddy ducks were a cool find. I've never seen them before and I love seeing a new duck. There were Greater Scaups out there two. Before I tell you about my last new bird, I want to tell you about a Mystery Bird. There was a Juvenile Brant hanging out with a bunch of Mallards. Never seen or even read about a Brant being alone. But the Brant was happy to just float around with the Mallard. The last new Bird I saw was a Redhead. A fun bird to see and I found a flock of them hanging out by a nice seafood place. I guess I will have to try it sometime. Full list of new birds below.

Outing #7
Cooper's Hawk *LB
Mourning Dove
Ruddy Duck *LB
Redhead *LB
Greater Scaup *LB

2012 Total: 46

Friday, January 13, 2012

Another day of Cold Weather Birding

Another Day of cold weather birding. I may be making an investment in some shell pants soon. Either way, I didn't get to see anything new but saw some great birds in my nearby pond. There were gadwalls, hooded mergansers, mute swans(back to them later), an Acrobatic Hawk of some sort (my guess is a red-tailed as the tail was dark). One fun bird was a female bufflehead that was hanging out with the hooded Mergansers. As we observed and scanned the Gadwalls that were also hanging out, two mute swans started a bit of a fight. They were gesturing, being territorial and actual fighting. Well, to be fair, one was fighting, the other was getting beaten! I'll attach some more photos later. But the 2nd photo is the larger swam gesturing and chasing off the offending swam. The 1st photo is of some of the ducks that found their way to the pond.

Outing #6
Common Merganser

2012 Total: 39

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Long Tailed Duck Image

Here is the image of my loose-end Long-Tailed Duck. I am think my goal for the month is to learn how to successfully digiscope. I am not 100% how the process works, but, that's half the fun. so I will be experimenting in the future with digiscoping. I'll try to post more pictures as part of my 2012 birding!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

An Unfinished Task...

Today was another spent looking for the Snowy Owl by the beach. No such luck though. Although, I did wrap up a loose end on my life list. One day while searching for a picture I had taken of a Northern Gannet on my computer, I found an odd picture. After a bit of examination, I figured out it was a Long-Tailed Duck. Now when I took the picture, didn't know what a long tailed duck was... in fact, I couldn't tell the difference between a mallard and a merganser. So when I started my list, I feel it would be wrong to add Long-Tailed Duck to my life-List. So today, while searching for the Snowy Owl, I found a long-tailed Duck sitting in the water. I beautiful duck. And while I missed the Snowy Owl, I managed to tie up a loose end on my lifelist and get a great bird for my 2012 list!

Outing #5
Long-tailed duck *LB
Gadwall *LB
Laughing Gull *LB
Double breasted cormorant
Great black backed gull
Americn wigeon
Fish crow

2012 Total: 37

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Another Wild Goose Chase

So today saw me undertake another wild goose chase. Today's target bird was a Pink-footed Goose. A goose that is fairly common in Greenland and Great Britain but extremely rare bird in North America. The word on the street (by which I mean blogs, emails and listservs) was that the target bird was hanging out with a huge flock of Canada Geese. So after a few minutes of driving around, we found the flock, a flock that was over 200 Canada Geese large! Well, after standing slack jawed, i picked up my binoculars and got to looking. I must have looked over each goose about 5 times. It getting to know this flock so well that I could tell you who was walking where and who had honked at who. Then, there it was. I figured out that I was with the wrong flock. A couple of birders pointed me to the right flock. When I was with the right flock, I found the pink-footed goose. I'd like to tell there was a moment of revelation or that music and lights shone from the heavens when I found it. No such luck, instead, I found that I could not take my eyes off the bird. I beautiful goose and my first real rarity successfully chased down. A great addition to my life list and to my 2012 Year list! Well, here's to more birding!

Outing #4
Pink Footed Goose *LB
Northern Mockingbird
Mute Swan

2012 Total 30

Friday, January 6, 2012

Another Visit to the Beach

Imagine being on the beach on a sunny day. No one else around. A whole beach to yourself. Now here's the catch, its only 40F outside. But still, this morning I had beach to myself. Saw some great birds and got a couple of new birds for 2012. Saw Ruddy Turnstones again, Sanderlings,and a Northern Harrier. The Harrier was hunting and riding the wind gusts. Red breasted Mergansers and other sea duck-like birds were around. I was hoping that there would be a harbor seal out there. I saw one last time i was out there but this time no luck. As I started to walk home, I realized I was not alone. There were about 10 other birders out and maybe 20 others, walking their dogs, themselves and a couple of park rangers. It was time to go home realizing that the park was in good hands. I was happy to see people out and about on this sunny winter day and I hope more and more people will take advantage of the parks and see the birds!

Outing #3:
Great Blue Heron
Northern Harrier
Red-Tailed Hawk
American Crow
Rock Pigeon
European Starling
Red-Breasted Merganser
Turkey Vulture
Yellow-Rumped Warbler

2012 Today: 26

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cold Weather Birding

So in continuing my effort to see and count birds in 2012, I went out yesterday to see some birds at a local state park. It was a beach state park too. Which would have been fine except we had a swirl of arctic wind yesterday! Birding in 19 Degree weather with 20 mph takes dedication and way more chap stick than I had. In any case, I got a few good looks at some ducks and songbirds. While I didn't add much to my list, being diligent about my 2012 year list reminded me why it was good to see some common birds and get them on the list. Back to the cold though. Piercing cold. So cold that after 5 minutes, my earlobes felt frozen under my hat. But I pressed on and go some good looks and shots at a flying flock of American Black Ducks and A Northern Cardinal at a feeder. List is below. I will attach some of my photos as soon as I can.

Outing #2 of 2012:
Canada Goose
White Throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal

2012 Total: 16

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Year in Review, A New Year's Goal

So as 2011 wrapped up, I went out looking for a Snowy Owl. One has been very active along the coast and I've always wanted to see one. Sadly, I missed the owl but got an pair of American Wigeons sitting in a marsh. I also got to see a bunch of brants. I needed the year at 118 species. Not great, but a good start for a beginning birder. Some of my favorites of the year have been seeing a red-headed woodpecker, pilated woodpeckers, green winged teals, little Blue Herons, Wood Ducks, and horned larks (also my first bird of 2012!). I did also see a few Brown Pelicans this year. The most memorable birding moment of the year was seeing two bald eagles perform their courtship ritual. An amazing feat of nature and life and I can't believe that I got to see it live. Always a treat to see such beautiful and majestic bird...

Which brings me to my new years goal. Besides the typical go to the gym, eat better and walk my dog more, I decided to set a goal of at least 250 birds and to see how many birds I can get in 2012. Now I won't be using any restrictions other than the North America, which will be easy as I have no plans for travel outside that area currently. In any case, should be a fun year and one that I hope to track of... hence the blog...

Year List for 2012:
Common Eider
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
American Black Duck
Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Ruddy Turnstone *LB
Purple Sandpiper *LB
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Horned Lark

Total: 13