Friday, March 30, 2012

A Day at the Beach

So full disclosure, today's post has no new birds to talk about.  But I just wanted to post and talk about how ready I am for migration season to begin.  My last visit to the Point let me see a lot of old early migrants.  Teals, Gadwalls, Wigeons and Brants were all around.  A few RB Mergs were also around.  I did see a Northern Harrier fight some serious winds along side some Ring-Billed Gulls.  While I did not get any new birds, I did enjoy being outside and seeing some serious birds in their environments.  An Osprey was nest building, or trying to anyway, since there were a few people around trying to fix an Osprey Cam.  When the link is up and running I will attach!  One thing I did enjoy was seeing how birds organize themselves.  As I posted before, Alvaro Jaramillo had posted that bids often organize themselves by size, a real pecking order!  I saw this for myself as I scanned and examined a sandbar.  At one end, Great Blacked Gulls dominated the bar, then Ring-Billed mixed with Brants and then at the end, tiny little Dunlins were fighting for space at the end of the bar.  Beyond listing and building one's list, it is important to start seeing what the birds are doing around you.  I will definitely be looking out for the birds and their habits.  And I've attached some fun Observations below.  If you have something interesting, please comment below:

WB Nuthatch going up a tree like a Brown Creeper
BH Nuthatch going at a tree like a Woodpecker
RB Gull chasing some tree swallows with a similar flight pattern
RT Hawk buzzing a flock of Mallards for fun
RS Hawk chasing a murder of crows instead of the other way around
Greater Yellowlegs running around a mudflat in circles

Any good ones?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Richard Crossley ID Guide - Eastern Birds Review

So at the COA Meeting, I heard Richard Crossley and picked up a copy of his guide book. A couple of quick comments. The images showcase the greatest feature of the Crossley ID Guide.  The Image layouts really create a great and diverse way to look and learned to look at birds.  While I am still browsing the book, the images do a great job at not only showing you what the bird looks like, it shows you how to for birds.  The Woodpecker and Rail pages do a good job of teaching illustrating how difficult it can be to find the bird in its environs.  I do appreciate this aspect of the book highly.  The images are vivid, realistic and helpful for learning how to look at and for birds.  One Critique is that I want more pages that help birders distinguish between similar species of birds.  A few books do shared image and written comparisons of like birds and I think Crossley's new format could do a great job illustrating how different the birds are.  Another critique is that currently the book is HUGE.  In order to accommodate the various layouts, this was a necessity, but a pocket guide would be helpful.  Crossley ID Guides is promising more innovative guides and improvements and I hope that a portable field guide is on the docket.

Here are a couple of his pages and layouts:

All Images Belong to Crossley ID and Princeton UP (C) are not MINE!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Some Great Birds and A Birding Conference

So a couple of great birding outings this weekend. Friday, I returned to the spot where I saw the Piping Plover to see what I could. I decided to stop by and see the marsh before going to look at the beach. While setting up my scope and looking around at all the Wigeons and Green-Winged Teals, I spotted a small duck moving around. It was a Blue-Wing Teal male and female! A new Life bird for me! There are beautiful birds. I followed them for about half an hour as they swam, dabbled and poked around the mud. While doing that, I saw some Osprey Building a Nest, 2 Snowy Egrets hunting in some tall spartina grass and tons of green-winged teals and American Wigeons. While the last 2 weren't new year or life birds for me, it was a great exercise to study birds and look at the birds around me.

On another note, I went to the Connecticut Ornithological Association Annual Meeting this weekend as well. I saw a couple of great speakers, Alvaro Jaramillo and Richard Crossley and I've added some information below. I got a copy of Crossley's Guide and I will be posting a review later in the week. In the end it was a great week to be a birder and I hope to continue having weeks like this!

Alvaro Jaramillo:

Richard Crossley:

Outing #23
Blue-Winged Teal LB (Life List is at 139)
Snowy Egret

2012 Total: 103

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Weekend of Outings...

So it was been a busy weekend. Trying to keep ahead of the Spring Migration kept me bust and vigilant. Every time I went out this weekend, I kept an eye open for wayward species and new migrants. I did manage to get a lot of birds here that I had gotten down south before. Northern Shovelers, Northern Flickers, Eastern Phoebes, and Killdeer. Great Outings even if I missed the Blue-Winged Teals, Egrets and Ibises that had returned! Nonetheless it was a great time to be about out and about. Missing those birds was a disappointment for my 2012 list and even my life list in a few cases, but I did enjoy seeing, hearing and being outside. The Flicker was hanging out with some RW Blackbirds. A great weekend of birding! The real gem of the weekend was seeing the Piping Plovers. They were displaying and even mounting and mating! Looking forward to a great and active Migration season!

Outing #22
American Oystercatcher
Black-Bellied Plover
Cedar Waxwing
Piping Plover

2012 Total: 100 (half way to goal for the year!)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Day at the Beach

A great day at the state park today. Great Sun and warm weather meant that it would be a great day for birds. And it certainly was. Birds were everywhere! As well as birders. Pulling into the parking lot gave me the chance to talk to several birders and admire a Greater Yellowlegs making the rounds while avoiding the ring-billed and Herring Gulls that were just sleeping around him. After than, I decided to move on. There were lots of American Black Ducks, Ring-neck Ducks and Red-Breasted Mergansers just sitting in the waves soaking up the sun. Even a few people were joining them! The salt marsh also had a lot of activity. Killdeer were flocking around and were joined by a few snow buntings! A little too warm to imagine that snow buntings were still around, but there they were! Just hanging out and having fun. Harriers and Turkey Vultures filled the sky along with the new arrived Red-Wing Blackbirds. They were fighting over spots in the trees with Grackles! Bonaparte's Gulls, a bird I had been looking for since November, finally caught up with me. I found them just sitting on a sand bar. The sand bar was a popular place to hang out. Even a Harbor seal made an appearance! Rounding out the day I got horned larks, Yellow-Rumped Warblers, Northern Cardinals, Song Sparrows, Red-Throated Loons. My 2012 Total rose to 97 and my life list grew to 139. My goal for 2012 was to get to 200 for both the year and life lists. With Migration season upon us, I hope I can get there!

Outing #21
Bonaparte's Gulls LB

2012 Total: 96

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wood Ducks, Lots of Wood Ducks

Rumor has it that wood ducks are making their way back to the northeast. Seeing Wood Ducks are one of the chief reasons I got into birding. They are beautiful and when I firs t read about them, they were describe as elusive and tough to find. I decided, arbitrarily, as most good decisions go, that when I found a wood duck, I would then be able to call myself a good birder. I found my first one about 2 years ago, but today showcased a gluttony of wood ducks. Every spot I spotted at yesterday had wood ducks. I got some great views through scopes, binoculars and the plain eye. I was humbled to be at several spots that were supporting such beautiful birds and I hope to be able to see them as the breeding season continues and grows!

Outing #20
Wood Duck

2012 Total:94

Sunday, March 4, 2012


The morning was wet and dark, but the afternoon was sunny and glorious. I decided today was the day to try and sneak a peak at the Northern Shrike that has been hunting in a local nature preserve. The first part of this story begins in Mobile, Alabama. There I had seen a loggerhead shrike and decided that one of my goal birds for 2012 would be the Northern Shrike. Well, after hiking around the preserve for a while, I found the Northern Shrike. The walk was great. I had a 44-acre preserve just me and the birds. I saw a Red-Tailed Hawk buzz a flock of about 50 Mallards. They all flew away while the hawk seemed to have a good time. Saw some Juncos and a big group of chickadees hanging out in trees. I had the day to myself. There are some stressful weeks ahead at work and to have a park all to myself was perfection. Finding the Shrike was the icing on the cake!

Outing #19
Northern Shrike LB

2012 Total: 92