Saturday, January 28, 2012

Townsend's Warbler

Today I drove up to Pennsylvania to see a Townsend's Warbler (lifer #391) that has been visiting a feeder for the past week or so. I arrived at 8:45 and within 15 minutes the warbler visited the feeder. I had to wait almost an hour, however, before I was finally able to get some decent photos.

The male Pine Warbler in the yard was also a great bird for January.
Afterwards I drove over to where a Snowy Owl and Prairie Falcon had been seen. As I was driving along the road I saw several cars pulled over and sure enough, when I stopped I saw the Snowy Owl. This one was almost pure white.
As we were watching the owl another man drove up and told us the Prairie Falcon was just down the road. It was in a snag far off the road but I was able to get great views through another birder's scope. The distance meant a very poor photo, however.
Before I started to head back home, I checked for a Palm Warbler that had been reported a week ago from about a mile away. I did not find it but I did see my year Savannah and White-crowned Sparrows. A Merlin that landed briefly in a tree by the road gave me a three falcon day.
At this point I wanted to look for a Peregrine but a quick check of Birdseye didn't show any on my way home.
I tried for the Hagerstown Loggerhead Shrike without success but I did see my first Green-winged Teal of the year in a small pond. Two Wild Turkeys that ran across the road near Christendom were also year birds and new for Virginia. It was a very enjoyable day; great weather and some great birds.

Deleware Birding

Last Sunday, Jakob Barkett and I drove out to Deleware to do some birding along the Atlantic coast. Initially we were hoping to chase the Barnacle Goose in Maryland but since that hadn't been seen in three days we decided to start off at Prime Hook NWR to look for the Eurasian Wigeon. On the way in we saw an enormous flock of Snow and Canada Geese in a field. Despite scanning the flock several times, we did not find anything else.
After a little bit of scanning the flock of American Wigeons, Pintails, and Black Ducks we were able to pick out at least one male Eurasian Wigeon (lifer #387) with his bright reddish head.
Our next stop was Cape Henlopen State Park where we saw several Brown-headed Nuthatches (lifer #388) come to the feeders after waiting for several minutes.
A quick scan of the ocean here did not find much so we moved on to the Indian River Inlet. Here there was a beautiful Boat-tailed Grackle (lifer#389) bathing in a puddle by the parking lot.
There were several Red-throated loons in the river and a flock of Ruddy Turnstones on the rocks.
At the end of the jetty there were several Great Cormorants (lifer #390),
as well as Surf Scoters and Long-tailed ducks in the water. There were lots of sanderlings on the beach.
We finished off at Ocean city where we saw a large flock of Brant but missed the Common Eiders.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

West Michigan Birding

Karl Overman and I had a great day birding the west side of the state yesterday. We started off at the hummingbird feeder in Lowell to see the Rufous Hummingbird. After fifteen or so minutes it flew into a pine tree and shortly afterwards visited the feeder.

The Muskegon Wastewater and Pere Marquette Park turned up little of note but after this the birding began to pick up. At Grand Haven State Park there was a very cooperative Red-throated Loon off the pier.

This Red-breasted Merganser was also very cooperative.

The next stop at Douglas Beach was probably my favorite stop on the day. As soon as I stepped out of the van I heard Crossbills calling in a hemlock, eventually we were able to count ten.

On the lake we were able to see all three species of Scoters. One of the bigger surprises of the day came a little while late when we saw at least 180 Sandhill Cranes in several fields!
It was a beautiful day for birding and one that I enjoyed a lot.

Colorado Trip

I went skiing in Colorado last week and while I missed Rosy Finches and Ptarmigans in the mountains I had several nice birds at Red-rocks Park in the foothills. The highlight was a Canyon Wren along the rocks.
The Townsend's Solitaire was a lifer as well.
I saw all five subspecies of Junco at the feeders and the Scrub Jays and Spotted Towhee were also cooperative for photos.
Gray-headed Junco
White-winged Junco
Oregon, Pink-sided Junco, and White-crowned Sparrow
Western Scrub Jay
Spotted Towhee

The next day I tried for a Three-toed Woodpecker without success south of Denver. I did see several Red Crossbills though.

I went back to Red Rocks after the snowstorm Saturday night hoping some Rosy Finches would show up. I didn't see any of those but I did see the Golden-crowned Sparrow I had missed a few days before.
I also saw a Northern Shrike as I was driving in.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Years Birding

For the third year in a row, I started the New Year by birding Heritage park with Mike Mencotti and two other birders. The birding was rather slow at first and the rain didn't help. That all changed, however, when we headed down the scout trail. Ever since Mike found a Long-eared Owl in the pines along this trail last February, I have always been checking for owls in the pines along this trail. As we walked into the pines we noticed some whitewash on the ground! A check of the branches above revealed nothing, however. After checking most of the trees, everybody else began to move back toward the trail but I decided to walk a little further and check the one pine further back. I was thrilled to see a Long-eared Owl looking back at me!
This was the first time I found a perched owl without directions from someone else. A little further down the trail I noticed a kinglet in the bushes. I assumed it would be a Golden-crowned Kinglet since Ruby-crowned Kinglets are extremely rare in the winter in Michigan. The face and wings looked plainer than a Golden-crowned, however, and Mike and I agreed it was a Ruby-crowned. Mike played a Ruby-crowned Kinglet song on his ipod and it popped out of the bushes and spent a minute or so looking at us.
A Yellow-rumped Warbler was a nice bird as well.

After lunch, I drove over to Walled lake to see the Surf Scoter. After a few minutes, I saw it with a group of Goldeneye.
There were also 2 Great Black-backed Gulls, 2 Gadwall, a Black Duck, 8 Tundra Swans, 3 Hooded, and 4 Common Mergansers. On the way home I noticed a female Kestrel near M-5 and 13 Mile, which brought my total to 41 species for the day. Apparently this is a new Big Day record for Oakland in January.

I finished off 2011 with this Barred Owl (year bird #313) at Stony Creek yesterday. It was my ninth owl of the year.