2013 and beyond

It's pretty simple: the most birds seen or heard from one's yard during 2013 will be the "winner". Want in? O.k....then do it despite that.

2013 promises to be a lot less mean but still a carbon-free birding competition, even if slightly less exciting than a MEGA x EPIC hybrid.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Slobber and Dorkstra alive?

Yo Dave and Curtis, quit slobbering and dorking around and let us know what you think about Sean's yard rules, eh? You'd think there were no birds in any of our yards the way you guys are(n't) responding lately. Oh wait...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sean's yard listing rules


Please read my comments under Sean's 2nd oldest post below this one. I'd like to get clarity on Sean's rules for counting yard birds before he gets too far on here...

Here is Sean's earlier post showing the location and habitat of his yard:


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dodging golfers while digiscoping...

So I brought the scope out since I was kicking myself yesterday as normally secretive stuff like Swamp Sparrows were just lining up for me left and right and all I had on me were my bins...
Of course, the numbers of sparrows were much lower today and as I set up and waited for the birds to drop back along the edge of the goldenrod, a young Sharpie zipped over my head and freaked the flock out until further notice...
I did see a few different things today, including three Northern Shovelers in the far back part of the large pond surrounded by dead trees. As I was waiting for some sparrows to come back out along a different stretch of cattails, I heard a club hitting a golf ball and I looked up to see the follow through of an obviously disgruntled man and then heard the ball hit the fairway about 40 feet from me...awesome! No "Fore" or anything like that, I guess I was crazy to think that with the fairway half flooded and nothing but mud and goose crap all over the place, that there wouldn't be golfers...WRONG! Anyways, I moved on and used a little more caution trying to anticipate where this guy was gonna be as he looped back and glared at me even though I was in the midst of Cottonwoods well out of his way... Yeah you can't please some people.
While in that area I did pish in a Savannah Sparrow which teed up long enough for a few shots before dropping down to feed with CHSPs and juncos.

I picked up a couple of Wood Ducks flying over and they circled a few times giving me a chance to digi-bin the female before they circled up and cleared out.

There were 22 Cacklers with less Canada's today and I got one decent digiscoped shot but they were being rather skittish today.

Other new birds from yesterday include a couple of Hermit Thrushes, GC Kinglet, a flyover Pine Siskin (heard first) among many AMGOs. A different Orange-crowned Warbler was present today (much duller than yesterdays). My third Winter Wren in 8 days was also noted today (different spot). I'm a bit surprised with how many of these are around considering the habitat...
And here are a few photos just for the heck of it:For Caleb's benefit:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A new start

Well I tore myself away from unpacking ridiculous amounts of boxes and took advantage of the nice dry weather to spend some time walking around the golf course that is adjacent to my apartment complex (since my actual yard consists of a balcony...).
Below is my eBird checklist from two hours walking around:

Cackling Goose (Richardson's) 20 (5 in below photo)
Canada Goose 700
American Black Duck 1 (good look and the bird was surprisingly pure)
Mallard 45
Pied-billed Grebe 1

Great Blue Heron 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 2
Killdeer 1
Ring-billed Gull 2
Rock Pigeon 2
Mourning Dove 28
Great Horned Owl 1 (Flushed out of a large weeping willow and flew across the ponds, probably the biggest surprise of the outing)
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 2
American Crow 2
Horned Lark 1
Black-capped Chickadee 7
Brown Creeper 3

Winter Wren 1 (my second here in a week, a bird I missed completely at W468...)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 11
Eastern Bluebird 5 (all migrants flying over way up high, call notes giving them away)
American Robin 55
European Starling 40
American Pipit 1 (another flyover given away by the flight call)
Cedar Waxwing 18
Orange-crowned Warbler 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 9
Chipping Sparrow 1
Clay-colored Sparrow 1
Field Sparrow 2 (all three spizella was surprising, esp with FISP outnumbering the other two and so few CHSP)
Fox Sparrow (Red) 10
Song Sparrow 14
Lincoln's Sparrow 1
Swamp Sparrow 12
White-throated Sparrow 120
White-crowned Sparrow 15 (really thought I might snag a HASP with the numbers of Zonotrichia around..just scads of white-throats...)
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) 25
Northern Cardinal 4
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Common Grackle 6
Purple Finch 5 (2 flyovers and 1 male and two females feeding on buds in the brushy trees with HOFIs and AMGOs)
House Finch 7
American Goldfinch 5
House Sparrow 10

What you guys want to do about restricting the size I'm able to count as my "yard" is up to you. The wooded habitat is very minimal. There's some goldenrod/brushy stuff that the sparrows and OCWAs are primarily in. Everything else is cattail marsh or large ponds with large snags around them (I've had BCNH on two other visits when we were moving in).
As of right now I'm trying to get as much as I can before these ponds freeze and the birds disappear with the water...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

End of an era

This weekend I attended Sean's wedding in Waterford, WI near his childhood home, the one we have all come to resent. This meant spending some quality time at this house, which was of course difficult given my longstanding bitterness over getting walloped in this contest while working my tail off to try to keep it close!

Well, in the interest of ending Sean's reign on a nice note, I got him a year yard bird during one of our brief yardwalks- a speedy Wilson's Snipe which was high above the yard! I believe it was 170 for him for the year.

Now, the good news for the rest of us. 170 is officially a number of the PAST, as Sean no longer resides at this residence! He has moved to his new apartment in Illinois, meaning that his sidebar will soon reset itself to zero ad he will start from scratch in sub-par habitat (golf course, few trees, decent wetland, no prairie, no woods).

So, let's all wish Sean a happy marriage, and now let's show him what it felt like to be us over the past year! You are going down, my friend. Waaaaay down. (imagine my evil laugh as I say that)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Incredibly, I just looked out to see a Vermivora coming in to the bath, thinking that it almost had to be an Orange-crowned. Instead, it was a typical Tennessee Warbler, by far the latest I've had in my yard, and likely in Michigan. To my additional surprise, the bar graphs in the back of Chartier and Ziarno (ABA Birding Guide to Michigan) puts the window for this species into late October for both the nLP and the sLP. I am no less excited, though, to have this species at least 2 weeks since I've had it previously.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

more late fall migrants...

On a short walk in the yard today I had a nice variety of late fall migrants:
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (2)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (2+)
Blue-headed Vireo (1 or 2)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (2)
Orange-crowned Warbler (1)
Eastern Phoebe (1)
Fox Sparrow (1)
Dark-eyed Junco (1+)
A large flock of Robins are all throughout the lot and a flock of Chipping Sparrows has taken over the front yard.
Not bad for city yardbirding on a fall afternoon.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

late fall arrivals

Well folks, since no one else is saying anything I guess I will - even if it's nothing spectacular. Some new arrivals to the yard as of the last few days would include:

White-throated Sparrows
Eastern Phoebe
Yellow-rumped Warblers
Golden-crowned Kinglets

I had one Nashville Warbler on the 10th.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Orange-crowned Warbler

As hoped for, I had my year yard OCWA this morning (131/149). Its also a year county bird (235). Although a much more quiet day than yesterday, there were still some good birds around. OVEN, NAWA, MAWA, HETH, BRTH, YTVI & 2 YBSA to name a few. Unfortunately, House Sparrow showed up at my feeders today and even though I appreciate him as a first of season bird for the yard he will be bringing many unwelcome friends and family soon enough.

I'm getting impatient for Palm Warbler!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

From Dearth to Deluge

After a week without much happening, the flood gates opened today. Although there wasn't a tremendous diversity of species (32) in an hour of birding the property this morning, there were good numbers. 100+ each of WTSP, WCSP & GCKI, 15 RCKI, 8 BRCR, 12 RBNU made for a boisterous yard. Additional goodies were 6 YRWA, 2 EAPH and individuals of WIWR, YTVI, MAWA, COYE, BTNW & NAWA. Intermittent light showers and accompanying cool down drafts probably forced a lot of these to earth. Searched all over for OCWA, but none today. Its around though as mom had it just outside the bay window yesterday. I'm hoping for that and another warbler selection tomorrow.

I also finally had a single FRGU from Douglas Public Beach this morning - a full week after Slogger's birds in Ohio. That's 234 for the county this year.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

SNGO in striking range

On a rare (in recent weeks) run today I came across a Snow Goose mixed in with the local migratory Canadas, just under a mile from my house! Being as hard as they are to get for my yardlist, any uncommon waterfowl like this spurs me to consider how I might add them to the yard list. Most evenings the geese overfly my house (or nearly so) either on their way to or from that pond, sometimes offering breif glimpses. So, tonight I will be on high alert.

Other than that my yard feels much like early winter! Scarcely a Yellowrump in the yard, no sparrows, and one probable NAWA yesterday is about all I can muster above the normal background birds. And the migration 3 nights ago, though the conditions looked good, was abysmal, with only a single WCSP being detected, and not a single other seep or thrush call!

slowly but surely

Slowly but surely I add warblers this fall (although looks like the diversity will very soon wane):
1 Nashville Warbler
1 Baypoll - struck me as Bay-breasted as it had very bold wing bars, but my looks were 1/2 sec. at a time and it didn't stick around.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Yard year bird - HETH

Yeah I know, it took me a little longer than I should have to nab that bird for the year in the yard, but oh well. Also had a nice goose movement on the morning of Sept 30 that included ~215 CANG, 12 CACG, and 1 SNGO. The CACG, SNGO were in one flock with about ten CANGs. Nice to have a goose flock where the goodies outnumber the blahs...
I also watched a young Coop give chase to a flicker without apparent success in the morning. I came back to fill the feeders after walking around to find this under the feeder (warning the below photo is not for the faint of heart):
Yes that is a MODO heart sitting next to the wings... One less juvie being stupid in the backyard.