2013 and beyond
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.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Here's the 6 new for the year:
Northern Flicker (32)
Eastern Towhee (33)
Fox Sparrow (34)
Hermit Thrush (35)
Eastern Phoebe (38)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (37)
I drove into Douglas across the Kalamazoo River noting that there were some decent duck numbers on Kalamazoo Lake to the west and Wades Bayou to the east. Encouraged that some might be visible from the roof, I scoped from there and at 7:15pm a swarm of Aythya rose above the tree-line. Leading were two Greater Scaup. However, the majority of the mass was indistinguishable to anything but scaup sp. A few moments later three small, buoyant gulls flew through my field of view. The white wedges in their outer primaries confirmed what I suspected to be Bonaparte's Gull. (For the skeptics - no significant dark underside of primaries.) A few more minutes of patient waiting and another smaller group of scaup sp. cleared the trees followed by three Lesser Scaup. A Tree Swallow zipping overhead finished off the roof-sit.
All told today were 5 yardbirds for the year: EATO, GRSC, BOGU, LESC & TRES. This brings my year list to 65. The scaup and bonies were all-time yardbirds putting that total at 165. Whats next?!
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The next year bird came in the form of a pair of silent Eastern Bluebirds cruising over in the midst of a fairly sizable number of robins and blackbirds that were moving over all morning. Caleb also witnessed a bluebird going over this morning that was too high to be local so they are still moving through... The other two birds aren't nearly as good; finally nailed down a lone Rock Pig going over (it took me four months in suburbia to finally get this!?) and a Brown Creeper was also fairly expected given the date and the large willows and cottonwoods around. The BEKI was yardbird 80, consider yourself warned Slager!
Also saw two Rusty Blackbirds (one in full song that allowed very close approach) and the DCCO's overnight became an expected species (2 today, more tomorrow I'm sure). Also, I'm glad my wife's point and shoot isn't a cheap quality camera. It's definitely harder to digiscope with than my coolpix 4500, but it's totally doable.
Monday, March 29, 2010
After having been in touch with Putnam via Facebook, about noctural migration and the like, imagine my delight when I heard some Eurasian Oystercatchers passing over my house tonight...and my dismay when I see that I had already noted the species at some stage this year. Still, it's always nice to have clear passage overhead, it's a rare thing in my neck of the woods: have to hope that something like a Eurasian Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit or the like is caught up in the movement and that it utters a recognisable call...
Anyway, just stepped out on this beautiful afternoon after finally getting off the phone for the 3rd conference call today. The winds are steady from the north but that isn't stopping a fairly decent raptor movement. Best birds were two GORGEOUS adult Bald Eagles (#31; #43 yard lifer) covorting with one another in a thermal way to the north of the 'slab'. After trying to convince my neighbor that I was actually looking at Bald Eagles, they disappeared before I could give him a look through the bins. Luckily, my wife got on them so her yard list now stands at like 5 or something like that. Other raptors that zipped by in about 10 minutes:
4 RTHAs, 3 TUVUs, 1 COHA.
A consolation year bird was TRES (#32).
Sunday, March 28, 2010
So I only had a couple hours to spend in the rainy drizzle/brief almost sun today and I came up with a decent bird count considering. So many Fox Sparrows! very nice I'd have to say there was at least 10 maybe more, one of the more common birds out back today. Also had good looks at FISP (one even showed at the feeder) and my first of the year yard CHSP also digiscoped at the feeder today after my walk. Still missed a few target sp. but it was fun to see a pair of EAPH down by the creek bobbin' their tails and catching bugs. Again with the few hundred AMRO and Wood Duck pair. Also had a pair o' MALL down on the creek. 44 Species in 2 hours aint bad.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
So, since I pay my dues, the 'commons' area is technically mine (too). Anybody got a problem with me using the 'commons' that abuts my actual yard as part of this competition? (How else am I ever going to score a duck other than MALL, HOME, and WODU?)
Friday, March 26, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Incongruously, a Pine Grosbeak warbled its way over the house- headed north; it's certainly possible that I won't see that species again until late fall.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Looks like I need to get my butt outside at daybreak a bit more often... Argh.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
So, on checking out the blog tonight, I see that all of you slackers have finally realised that you live in a country with shedloads more species than we have in Ireland, and have all passed my paltry total: about time, gentlemen! Now I'm just off to sit in a corner and feel inadequate...
Seriously, I was too busy of late to even worry about my garden, as I went off and ticked Eurasian Stone-curlew for Ireland today on Sherkin Island, in glorious spring sunshine with birdsong, flowers starting to bloom, insects and so on. 15 Sand Martins (Bank Swallows to you lot) were seen on the Bandon River on our way home, with 2 more near Cobh: I got Northern Wheatear for the year last Thursday. After a colder than usual winter, it feels so good for spring to be here again!
Raptors were also on the move in much smaller numbers, but I managed a dozen Red-tailed Hawks, 1 Red-shouldered Hawk (#34, #75 life), 2 Turkey Vultures (#35), 1 Bald Eagle (#36, #76 life), and a couple of Cooper's Hawks that may have been local. The only other bird of note was a Pied-billed Grebe (#37) out on the pond all by its lonesome.
My yard is pretty good for hawk-watching being up on a hill and all, and with sunny skies and SW winds I thought I should do some yard birding. Of course, me being me- I decided within 2 minutes of yard birding that it was time to go else where and spent most of my morning on a wilderness ridge north of town watching Goshawks try to kill one-another. But all good things must come to an end and after a few hours out, it was time to come home and get work done. Being the procrastinator that I am- I thought "well might as well watch the skies for a few before going inside.
Well just imagine my surprise when a blooming adult Golden Eagle came streaming right over the house- fantastic looks, and a species I have dreamt of as a yard bird, but never thought it would happen! If my prof Lindsay is in his yard he may get it too as the eagle was headed right towards his place.
slowly but surely I began my ascent to winning this years competition- complete with style points!
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Aristotle – the last human to know everything there was to know during his lifetime- was the first to write on subject of bird migration. He believed that small birds (particularly swallows) hibernated during the winter and this serve as conventional wisdom for almost 2000 years.
Aristotle also believed that birds morphed from one species to explain how one species would disappear near the end of summer (i.e. redstart) and another would appear to residence through the winter (i.e. robin). This process of change was called Transmutation.
It’s laughable now to think of “migration” in these terms but I believed I witnessed the latter the other day with my observation of the Trumpeter Swan. I went out the Portage the next day and saw 2 large dark-billed swans but they were clearly Tundras. Later in the evening I saw them from my liar .. I mean my lair, and this time the nearby Mute Swans did not respond to their presence and the Tundra’s were not observed in courtship display. I believe the Trumpeter’s transmutated into Tundra’s so that they could co-exist with the aggressive and territorial Mute Swans. I intend to watch to see if they turn back into Trumpeters but in the meantime I will transmute my yardlist to reflect the current form these swans have taken.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Also, just found this SOSP/FOSP (presumably the former, but hard to tell) from this morning at daybreak (6:50:22AM), so the sun was already partially up. I'll bet it was still moving though as I didn't see it in my yard at all today.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
As I'm talking to Putnut on the phone I check the yard shrubs for Song Sparrow (score! #28). Then I walked a little further into the woodlot and saw something move 4' from me on the ground. I looked down and saw in perfect lighting against the leaf litter an American Woodcock (#29). 1/2 second later it flushed but is sure to be trapped somewhere in the woodlot for the rest of the day (nowhere else to go). AWESOME!
Oh, and added 2 more day birds (RTHA, and HAWO) making 24 for 3/17/10 so far.
Side note: Harry & Aaron, sorry for passing you both by today. But I must admit both of you have made a great showing for these first months of the year! Keep it up!
One more thing - SOS for Edmund Fitzgerald...you're about to sink!
Location: Highgate Yard & Woodlot
Observation date: 3/17/10
Notes: Bonnie and I sat by the house with coffee and then walked the woodlot.
Number of species: 20
Canada Goose - Branta canadensis 22
Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos 4 (#26)
Ring-billed Gull - Larus delawarensis 1 (#27)
Mourning Dove - Zenaida macroura 2
Downy Woodpecker - Picoides pubescens 2
Blue Jay - Cyanocitta cristata 2
American Crow - Corvus brachyrhynchos 1
Black-capped Chickadee - Poecile atricapillus 3
Tufted Titmouse - Baeolophus bicolor 1
White-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta carolinensis 2
Brown Creeper - Certhia americana 1
American Robin - Turdus migratorius 6
European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris 3
Dark-eyed Junco - Junco hyemalis 1
Northern Cardinal - Cardinalis cardinalis 3
Red-winged Blackbird - Agelaius phoeniceus 15
Brown-headed Cowbird - Molothrus ater 2
House Finch - Carpodacus mexicanus 2
American Goldfinch - Carduelis tristis 3
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus 12
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
3/12/10 - Red-winged Blackbird (#23)
3/16/10 - Brown-headed Cowbird (#24)
3/16/10 - Red-tailed Hawk (#25)
Oh, by the way, I'm vacationing at home this week and plan to make the most of it. So WATCH OUT! And Haas...SHUT UP about making up ground later and show something now would ya! Looks like your other UP counterpart is doing just fine so don't excuse yourself due to latitude.
Yup, #39. In two separate flocks quite high up And you can count on many more species being added this way in the next 2 months. I even have a ladder permanently mounted on the deck to allow quick and easy access to the roof whenever I hear a flight occurring. Can you say SOSA, BBPL, SESA, UPSA, BOBO, SAVS, GRSP, and/or a load of other species I'll never get any other way from my yard?
Monday, March 15, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Looks like I'm tied for 7th. Watch out DSlag and FitzG. You punks are going down!
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Finally got some freaking ducks today. Maybe its just because I got up on the roof rather than sleeping in for a change. Before I went out to check the salamander traps I got up on the roof around 7am and Winging in from the south were some low flying Ducks (and geese, tho nothing special in the Goose department (resisted calling a minima a Cackling)) the ducks were some good love leading in were some Mallards but right behind were 4 drake Redhead! Yard lifer 131. Then I went out for a local county vernal pool inventory project I'm working on, and found some new township records for Jefferson, Smallmouth, and Spotted Salamanders, hence the pic above. I just love those little guys. At the place I was salamandering I had some more Redhead, Wigeon, and Mallards as well as ring-billed gulls and a fly over Great Blue Heron at a flooded field pond, also a EAPH. So I new I had to get back to my yard in hopes of finding my local Phoebe. Right before I had to go to work this evening I busted out a quick walk around the yard. At "duck bend" of the creek I encountered not only a pair of Wood Ducks but also a threesome of Hooded Mergansers! A spectacular drake and two hens. So cool, not a common yard bird for sure. Good looks from above (the overlook at duck bend is a bit of a hill). On the way back in at the old fence line trees was a tail flash of a FOSP. I almost made myself late to work to try and get a better look, turns out there were really 6 Fox Sparrows! Several of them finally perched higher up so I could bask in their foxy glory. One even performed a partial song. Lovely.
Friday, March 12, 2010
I truly enjoy hearing about you're-alls foray into spring migration. I did add year bird #26 the other day (a Cooper's Hawk), but I have no real evidence that it anything but a local winterer.
Don't worry about me- I'm just kickin back, chilling, waiting for everyone to feel like they're winning before I jump into this little soiree. Ring-billed Gulls showed up in the harbor the other day- so that means only 6 more weeks of winter!
Keep'on keeping on Brigham! I'll be playing roshambo with you for first place in May....... till then, may all your dreams be of vagrant warblers in one's water feature!
Hey Kitty- how does it feel to keep trying to catch me only to have the lead stolen away again time after time?
Not much to report on the garden bird front, with no new birds (had a Greenfinch a week or so ago, heard only, that was new for the year), and the highlight being that the male Blackcap must have been lurking unseen all along, or else we've had a new one today, as I heard some plastic song from within the shrubbery.
Otherwise, the hot news over here is that many keen birders (including me) finally caught up with Pacific Diver for our Irish lists (a lifer also for most, again including me, but some had seen the species in Britain or the western US) on Sunday last (some local birders had made it in time on Saturday also). Despite this being in Galway Bay, it seems that this bird is a different individual, with a less well-marked chin strap, from the bird seen there some weeks back! Which, if either, of them are the same as the bird reported as a possible/probable by some experienced visiting British birders in the Galway Bay area last winter, we have no idea.
On returning home that night, news broke of a Fan-tailed Warbler (a.k.a. Zitting Cisticola) at Kilcoole, which had been posted to irishbirding.com as a Sedge Warbler, but, worryingly, the fourth pic in the series was of a Cetti's Warbler, which, despite breeding as close as Wales now, is as rare here as the cisticola, both would be third records for Ireland (the only difference being that there has been a twitchable Cetti's, in 2005...happy days!). As a result, myself and many others smelled a rat, and never travelled: it has been confirmed publicly now that the whole thing was a hoax, and that the shots were taken in Greece last spring! Just when I had begun to wonder if I was becoming too cynical, it seems that my cynicism was vindicated in this case...
Thursday, March 11, 2010
#47 156 NSHO
Additional highlights were do to a minor hawk flight. Another young MERL couldn't seem to figure out what to do and slowly flew back and forth over the south field. While on the roof I had a SSHA come in high from the south which made up for the accipiter sp. I had on Monday. Two north-bound RTHA were obvious migrants (not the resident pair west of the property). One was of intermediate coloration. Besides these, huge numbers of AMRO, COGR, RWBL, KILL, and EUST were headed north continually, as was also the case yeasterday. A smaller paler thrush flew over with one of the robin flocks and was likely a Hermit Thrush, but I couldn't clinch it as such. The low presure pushing from the south is certainly advantagous for the early migrants lately!
On another note- this morning's site survey yielded 2 BHCO and 1 EABL, bringing me to 36 for the year. Still wondering why I cannot seem to score a SACR given how many there are in the area- should be a matter of days. I also think I am going to have a heck of a time getting RUBL here b/c the flocks are visible only from underneath (if they are on the horizon I can't see them through the trees) b/c it's only the flocks directly overhead which I can see. I think the bird is going to have to sing in flight amongst the flock for me to have a good chance at it. And as far as waterfowl it's been really slow here- few if any MALL. Interestingly I stepped outside to try for GHOW and AMWO last night and had 2 ducks (wing whir) going over at 12:30AM. Not COGO type sound, but more like MALL.
Anywho, I shall keep on trying. And by tomorrow I hope to have my microphone back on all day as I work- this is extremely helpful in clueing me in to a new species out there.
Anyway, I'm starting to wonder how legit Sean is after his conjuring up some crazy stuff (NOPI and AMWI!!!!) there in the boondocks. It's like he's got a vendetta against me or something...is that what it is Sean? Felt the need to put me into last place?!! And now Aaron is "conjuring" up crazy stuff himself like RUBL, DCCO (are you sure you ruled out RWBB and AMCR Aaron!).
Oh, and Aaron, you are RIGHT when you say you are going down come warbler time. I'll be looking at gaining 20+ warbler species as well as the possibility of just about anything else (including AMWO - since we've been talking about it - it's on my list - I kicked one up in late May last spring - weird timing, but I'll take it!).
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
So far to date, the only species that I've actually seen perched within The Wastelands:
[33% of total year species]
The next time someone enters numbers in the number's column, do me a favor and update mine. I try to fix all the insane number of spaces that get added for some reason but they never get fixed? What's up with that?!
Red-winged Blackbirds (scads flying over the house, some singing nearby)
Common Grackle- 4 flybys
Killdeer- 2 flybys
Amazingly, I still have not nailed down a bluebird for the yard, despite the one 100 yds west of my property line as I drove in today. He's not making much noise, that's for sure. Also, both of my neighbors have had SACR the past 2-3 days, but I have yet to cross paths with them. Finally, I just noticed that GHOW is not on my 2010 list. Need to get on that one... Thought I had them for the year, but I guess it was last fall when I last heard them.
And oh yeah, the water feature is RUNNING! I drained our hot tub yesterday, dumping all the 102 degree water into the water feature to melt the 1.5 ft solid block of ice, and it worked. Hopefully this will attract the bluebird in...
Monday, March 8, 2010
How long will not being in last place last? Hmmmm...
RWBL - #15
COGR - #16
AMWI - #17
NOPI - #18
Hopefully, waterfowl movements continue over The Wastelands.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
We continued our cold vigil and were rewarded by a flock of 6 Common Mergs that buzzed the place. As we were just finishing up the burgers another flock of dabs came from the north - this one containing three species! The long strung out shape of multiple NOPIs (5 total) jumped out immediately among the blockier Mallards, but there were two slightly smaller dabblers in there that became apparent as additional American Wigeon!
Two life yardbirds for the Boonedox on a seemingly rubbish day weather-wise!
To put these two species in perspective, I had previously recorded AMWI once at my folks place in WI (none last year) and I was the only one who had NOPI of any of us last year (3 sightings in the first half of March totaling 55 birds - in WI of course). So the wastelands just became only the second site ever to record either of these species... And multiple flocks containing AMWI - ridic. Watch out Warner, Boone's coming!
The young NSHR is still across the way. Twice today I found it while I was on that property and lost it before I could get back to mine. It doesn't sit still long enough. I'll try for it again tomorrow. I'm glad its stayed since Thurs, but its torture not having it for a yardbird yet!
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Monday, March 1, 2010
From my current vantage I have a bead north about a mile to Mt. Baldhead (go ahead, yak it up) which sits above Lake Kalamazoo and the Kalamazoo River. With the leaves off the trees I have ability to see the areas above these waters, but not the lake or river themselves due to tree line, rooftops, etc. I'm hopeful that some of the multitude of species residing on the lake/river will be visible and identifiable from here. So far today a half dozen HERG and an individual COGO are all that have come to light. Here is a sampling of what was on Lake Kalamazoo & river yesterday which would be useful for the yard list: 1 LBBG, 6 GBBG, 56 COME, 14 BUFF & 6 MUSW. All they have to do is lift up off the water high enough so I can see them.....
Oh, #28 for the year flew over earlier this morn while scoping from the west boundary - two Red-winged Blackbird.