Being buried in work and also extremely cold weather meant that I got to spend more time with my feeder. I've been having a couple of Red-breasted Nuthatches come by and it is a delight to see. I've been enjoying my peanut feeder for all the birds it brings in. I can easily spot Juncos, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers and both White-Breasted and Red-Breasted Nuthatches. I am excited for what my feeder will bring when the migration season begins. I've already seen an rise in sparrows and even hawks near my feeder.
This Red-Breasted Nuthatch has been visiting my feeder for 3 months now!
Too bad you can't call birds over like in the Red Rover game. Red Rover, Red Rover, Hoary Redpoll, come on over! It doesn't really work like that. It doesn't work like that at all. The search for the Hoary Redpoll began and ended with my feet in the snow. For a couple of weeks of now, a Hoary Redpoll has been visiting a local feeder. So, i woke up and headed over. After an hour and a half of standing in the snow, I had to call it quits. My feet were cold, my toes were numb and my blood was probably at the early stages of icing. So without any sign of any more than 2 Common Redpolls at a time, I called it quits and went in search of another bandit.
Beach, wind and shore birds.... lots of shore birds. What do you do when you are face to face with a single digit wind chill and hundreds of similar looking peeps? You call it a good day and take out your scope for a good time. The cold melted away and the wind was stayed with a bounty of chap stick as a looked over Dunlins, Plovers and Turnstones. The challenge was to judge the legs, beak and coloration all while trying to count the birds! Sadly, I dipped out the red knot but that doesn't mean I am not going to go out looking for it again... Maybe I'll try the red rover thing with the red knot and redpolls...
Since nabbing the Northern Saw-Whet Owl, I made a return to see some shorebirds and other birds. There was a good variety of birds and I did spend most of the weekend outside looking for birds. Which is of course my favorite way to spend a weekend. I managed to see some old favorites and get some great new birds for the year! The highlight was watching a Sharp-Shinned Hawk attack and devour a chipmonk. Pretty cool to see. The hawk had to navigate some through some bushes and hedges to chase down its prey.
I've done a lot of thinking about my goals for 2013. Last year, I set a goal of adding a 100 birds to my life list and having a year list of 200 long. Well, I beat both since I got 254 for the year and about 251 for the year. A nice padding for the crossing the bar. I was thinking that for 2013 I would set a couple of different goals, which I will outline below:
Life List Goal at 300
I recognize that this may be the easiest goal to meet but given that I can't go chase every new rarity, I think it is good to be modest while still setting a high goal.
Year List Goal at 200
This is a repeat of my goal last year.
I am also going to set some very specific goals:
I want to do at least 2 pelagic trips. Note that I am and will be counting Whale Watching trips (which my wife loves) as such trips.
I am also targeting a few specific birds: Parastic Jaeger, Barnacle Goose, Canada Warbler, Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher and a Bobolink. While a interesting mix to be sure, these are just birds that I would like to see!
Some of you will notice that Northern Saw-Whet isn't on the list. That's because I got it early this year! What a Great pick up! Some Birders helped me out and I am so excited to be able to see this sweet, yet vicious bird of prey. Click the Photo below for a bigger shot!
2013 Birds: 24 (176 to go!)
Life List: 255 (45 to go!
So, I decided to take a break from owling (for now) and went looking for some shore birds. I visited some local ponds after X-mas breakfast. I was looking for a local Wilson's Snipe that had been reported. I never had much luck with birds like Snipes and Woodcocks. I got my first Woodcock earlier in the fall and I was excited that the prospect of another worth ducking out of some holiday activities to see the Snipe. (video below) I took my dad out with me and he's a beginning birder. So we talked a bit as we searched and scanned the grasses along the pond. We found nothing at first, but decided to walk around the park to see what we could find. Of course at that moment the Snipe flys off! He's was right below us the whole time. Fortunately, I was able to re-locate him and take the video below. The wind was cold that day, but it was worth it to get this bird.
I ended 2012 with a good year in birding. My life list topped out at 254 and I am looking forward to improving my skills and getting to enjoy more of nature. I'll have another post on about my 2013 goals. So for the moment, enjoy scenes from the life of a Wilson's Snipe!