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.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Life yardbird

I would much rather have just posted a photo of the bird I am about to mention but its super-high activity level wouldn't allow for it, despite being with 1 sec of having such a photo on 2 occasions. First of all, this is the first Empidonax I have ever had come down near the bath. The only other species I've recorded, LEFL, was singing from a nearby yard and heard only.

A little backdrop: yesterday morning, I had an Empidonax sp. foraging in the early morning in the very top of a tall oak on the edge of the opening in the commons area here. Lighting was atrocious and distance was just too far to do anything else with it. By the time I retreived my scope the bird was long gone. And I never saw another lick of it. But today, after having the obligatory flock of 3-4 TEWA, 3-4 NAWA, 1 CSWA, 1 BAWW, and 1 OVEN hanging around the bath, I was surprised at about 5PM to see a new visitor. It didn't take terribly long to get my bins on it and realize that this Empid had very contrasty black and white wings, plus a circular eyering with no teardrop, and most importantly, very popcorn yellowish chin, breast, and belly. Upon missing the diginoced shot and watching the bird bolt away, I opted to stay and wait rather than chase outside to search for it. After about 15 minutes the bird reappeared again, this time only 5 feet above the bath, but as put the camera up to the scope (which was already on the bird), it again flew within seconds of my getting the camera up there.

So anyway, I know Curtis is still working out EAPH vs EAWP vs Empid, let alone the Empids themselves. The rest of you will have to trust it on my word that today I had a life (yard) Empid, and it wasn't PSFL/COFL. (#123/137)


Greetings bird-brothers. I've been pretty lax about the yard list lately gentlemen, and I apologize. I haven't bothered to blog about the yard lifer I got a few weeks ago, Spotted Sandpiper on the creek, or the other yard birds I've gotten either like BBCU. Working full time has made me into a busy man lately, and most of my outside of work birding has been focused on the local shorebird scene. That has been good, today not fifteen minutes from my house at Hoover Reservoir, I had 15 BASA, and 9 BBSA, which is pretty sweet, not to mention the dozen STSA and other various more common shorebirds numbering in the hundreds of individuals that are there now. But last night I had about 86 CONI (#135 for the year) fly by the house and I remembered the old yard list and this blog. I hope to bird my yard tonight and tomorrow morning and hopefully I'll be getting some more migrants. Stay tuned chumps!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sycamore Warbler!

So- what can I say...... I heard an Evening Grosbeak outside my window, took a peek out, and damn, there was a freaking Yellow-throated Warbler coming into the drip.

I've had a handful of great birds here at the Haascienda, but I think this might be the best one yet. It certainly is the rarest. I need to go digging through my records, but I believe this is the 8th UP record of Yellow-throated Warbler. I might also add, my 3rd for the UP, and 2nd in Marquette.

So I am requesting an additional 3 points to my fall warbler war total, my reasoning- come on! its a flipping YTWA and a hell of a Lake Superior vagrant. Whadda ya'll say???

Kaplan's got Audubon's Warblers, I get Sycamores.....

Golden Frog

one-in-a-million yardfrog?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Yeller-belly Fly, Oriole & a first county record

howdy gents, (and Caleb),

Up to 103.5 now with a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher whistling from the back of the Haas Tract last week. Its a new yard lifer, so I suppose that means I pull ahead of Put-nutz on that party wagon. A suprisingly late Baltimore Oriole was an unexpected pick-up that I thought I missed out on for the year- they can be hard to see in the UP in August.

I had a sweet dragonfly come by the hill the other day, a beastie by the name of Black Saddlebags (ode names are too cool!). I tried to net the little bastard as it would of been a first county record, but the final score was the high flyer-7/monkey-ape thing- 0.

Well off to my freindly, neighborhood jaeger-watching spot.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

CONI Island

After 2.5 weeks of solid dusk watching at The Wastelands, I finally landed my year's CONI tic (year #58). The initial detection came with about 0.18466283 seconds (which subsequently, at The Wastelands, is the same amount of horizon degree viewage that I have) worth of obs time of a fly-by individual just before it banked out of my sight line. After a few more minutes, I had two more nighthawks fly directly over me, and low. These birds are simply amazing...I would have to say my favorite species of the year so far.

Monday, August 23, 2010

flyby peep and AMRE

Hey all,
This am wasn't all the birdy in terms of migrants, but I did manage a couple good species. The coolest thing was probably watching a Great Horned Owl swoop down and try to snag a Spotted Sandpiper that was bobbing on a log right by some tall tree cover... You should have hear that SPSA protest right after it narrowly missed becoming a snack... The best bird was a Least Sandpiper that circled the ponds a couple times before calling and leaving in search of shallower water to put down by (life yardbird). This evening after work I stopped by and had a female-type American Redstart pop out of the buckthorn I was pishing at and give me some nice looks before retiring. Of course when I returned to the spot with my camera it became uber shy... I got a shot of a cool looking dragonfly I might toss up here once I upload my SD card onto my computer. Bird on!

'Recent' news

Hi all,
I have neglected my blogging 'duties' of late, even on my own blog (http://www.corkbirding.blogspot.com, recently updated and revamped), so allow me to summarise.
This month so far has been interesting, as, while I have long been envious of the way in which you lot get shedloads of migrants passing over or through your gardens, my crappy little garden, situated in an area with few trees or any other habitat, and in a country without a large scale overhead passage of much, bar Barn Swallows or other species that are common anyway, usually fails to get any action. Imagine my surprise, and delight, to have logged call-only singles of Common Chiffchaff (second garden record, first recorded last year, though they may well be annual) and Willow Warbler (first garden record, though, again, probably under-recorded), and, frustratingly, I also heard a call about 9 days ago that reminded me of a Sedge Warbler, which would have been an amazing garden bird but quite possible on migration.
The best bird, however, was another that was heard but not seen. On Sunday 15th, I had just been birding a local estuary until dark (best bird being an adult Mediterranean Gull), and decided to get a taxi home from the city centre. On getting out of the taxi, I heard what struck me as a Green Sandpiper, and, sure enough, after getting out and entering my garden, the bird called 2-3 more times. This opens up so many possibilities, even scarce stuff nationally like Wood Sandpiper...

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Yes, it finally happened...a Ruby-throated Hummingbird visited my feeder.
That's 96 for 2010 and 112 for all-time.

First Bathing Beauty!

Here it is guys...
Year bird 95.
In actuality I never saw the Canada Warbler go "in" the water, but only flit in the branches just above it. Same with the actual "first" bird I saw at the bath, but could not photograph - a Wilson's Warbler. But it was wet and had obiviously been in it before I saw it.
I love water!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Final Product

Here it is folks. After a couple of snags that set me back, I now have completed my new bath tub water feature. I included 2 close-ups and one of the view from the back of my house to show some of the periphery of the yard. You can see the hummingbird feeder that has yet to have a visitor (it's hanging on the back corner of my garage), the wren house that had chickadees and house wrens nest in it this year, the edge of my bird feeder station and, of course, the woodlot beyond.
Now bring on the birds!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

August 19 BAEA photo

This bad boy was soaring overhead this afternoon as I tried yet again to locate the mystery egretta. Check out the bar chart of occurrence for the species in DuPage County on eBird:

He made a quick stop at the local long john silver's before I spotted him... I'm not sure which seasonally unexpected raptor I've had that's more interesting, a January PEFA here or an August adult BAEA...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Migrants and a partially good bird

This morning was another great day for migrants here (for mid-August). I had three warb sps giving flight calls between 7:00 and 8:00, one of which was most likely dendroica from the more buzzy zeet (but I'm not about to start calling my BTBW's online and get called out by Bill Evans like somebody on here...cough Putter). Also had a female/imm PUMA flyover the pond, a Bank Swallow was associating with the BARS, and a four-ship of "pinking" Bobolink that went over fairly low. I had given up on the pond action and was shifting to the trees on the edge when I saw a small white egret drop on the pond through the trees. I caught glimpses of it through the trees and got the following field marks:
1) Small, flew right by a DCCO and was smaller or comparable to it in both body size and wingspan.
2) Very nondescript legs, nothing stood out and they just sort of blended into the bird and the background (ie no contrasting foot color).
3) An almost dusky appearance that wasn't the pure white of adult SNEGs or GREGs.
4) I saw it with it's neck outstretched (very crane-like) and it's neck length was far too long for CAEG to be a possibility.
I didn't see the beak color, beak length, or wingtip color. I feel I can safely rule out CAEG, adult SNEG and I'm left with immature LBHE and immature SNEG. Unfortunately I was unable to relocate the bird in question once I got to a better vantage point on the pond and I was already late for work...
I spent my lunch break and the hour following work searching nearby ponds and habitat without any luck relocating the small white heron of interest (although I did have 4 other heron/egret species while searching).
The searching wasn't in vain however as I heard a bill snap and was attracted to a dashing looking Philly Vireo in one of the willows surrounding the pond. And then a Traill's Flycatcher showed up as well. A flyover SOSA rounds out the migrants for the day (PUMA, BANS, BOBO, PHVI, TRFL, and SOSA).
I will continue to keep looking for this egret...while it's cool, it will be far cooler when I know exactly what it is... And either would be an IL bird for me...and we all know eBird doesn't count sp ticks...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Tonight I was able to lure the Putmeister out of his lair to come and "dig a hole" in my yard for my new bath tub bird bath water feature and to eat some pizza. Can you believe he took the bait? You can tell what a grand time he had...just look below:

Little did Caleb know that the finished product was not intended for the birds...

...but for one DUMB DODO!! That 25 bird "all-time yard list" lead he's got on me is sure to fall now!! (eventually anyway). Skye and Sean, your welcome also because I have a hunch that the 136 all-time species Caleb has is set in stone (a GRAVEstone that is)...overtake him at your own leisure. HA HA HA HA!!! (insert evil laugh here).
Stay tuned for more "finished product" photos and (hopefully) some nice bird shots too.

NFC time

No, not National Football Conference, though that is back in action now too, but Nocturnal Flight Calls. Although radar looked weak last night, I decided to sit on the roof from 5AM-6AM this morning to try again for VEER and other early migrants. Again I dipped on VEER, but I did have 1 year yardbird: BTBW:
as well as one probable Blue-winged/Golden-winged:a mystery 'zeep' (Slags, any ideas?):one unknown double-banded upseep (I am guessing TEWA is most likely; the others in this group are BTNW, OCWA, NAWA...)
2 Swainson's Thrushes (amazing how these and many other species show up WAY earlier in the migration by NFC than by sight on the ground! Think back to my March 2010 Savannah Sparrow...)and finally, this probable Bay-breasted Warbler. Yes, there are many other species in the 'zeep' complex, inc. YWAR, CERW, CONW, BLPW, BLBW, etc. But only BBWA typically has 2 humps and a *distinctly* downslurred pitch. I am not saying it's 100% certain, but it is a very good bet.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I finally managed to secure PUMA (57/60) for The Wastelands. I believe that the cooler temps last night here in NE ILL allowed for some movement. Too bad I'll be stuck inside ALL DAY. I had a couple of UKWarbs flying high over the house this morning, as well.

Hey, Fitzy...what did you get this AM?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Come to papa.....

nowhere as fun as a Prairie Warbler but a Marsh Wren (#145) finally put in a visit in the yard .... ,, ,, ,,

photos to follow, soon.... also, a Cape May Warbler.

Eh, Rick? Stop tailgating....

Prairie Warbler

Yup. This morning in the south field while I was pishing in several Indigo's and a Carolina Wren, a young PRAW showed up. It was skittish at eye level in the depths of a thicket of young maples and lilacs along the edge of the field. It didn't stay long, but the beauty of its presence was indelible. The bird was a gorgeous complete bright yellow on its under side that infused into olive on its upper. The undertone of yellow was especially pronounced in its wing bars and the facial area. The beginnings of black streaking along its sides and flanks was evident, as well. From above it even obliged by spreading its pumping tail to show me two and a half fully white outer tail feathers. 143/171.

I'll take quality over quantity any day.

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's bath time

So what is it, like September 10th right now?

Finally some nocturnal listening

From 5:00AM to 5:40AM I tried for VEER, YBCU (both still life yardbirds), and other early fall nocturnal migrants but had none. The Perseids, however, were incredible- some of the brightest shooting starts I've ever seen. I suspect within a short time we will begin having decent nightflights- perhaps with the cooling weather we are due for?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Typical August AM photos

Nothing new to report unfortunately, but figured I'd share a couple of photos from Monday's watch overlooking the pond...Still no NECO but the DCCO numbers are averaging in the 70s now.
Not one but four adult BCNH around the pond in the am. Always a cool bird. The water level is way too high for shorebirds unfortunately. I had LEYE and SOSA here last August when we were checking out the apartments...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Upland Sandpiper....

Here's a follow-up to Caleb's non sequitur.....

During three nights (5-7Aug) of loon whispering in the Northern Lower Peninsula I had a UPSA on each nigh giving flight calls... (a short rolling trill).

I mention this because I know how much Caleb likes sleeping on his roof and nobody has this as a yardbird.

I was going to title this mornings offering Bobo-"zink" (143) to commemorate the one this morning flying over the Portage Cattail Monoculture (PCM) but if this blog is going to lose focus I'm not one to flight a trend; I'll send a bird list soon of species I saw in the vicinity of my tent on my 1998 trip to Madagascar.

otherwise quiet out there.....

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Is it just me...

or is this one of the most astounding summer warbler records for OH you've heard of? http://www.bsbobird.org/ (about 1 page length down from top of page, in right column). WHAT is this bird doing down there that time of year?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Its been a couple years....

....since this species has visited the yard, but its the first one ever in the fall. (The last time it was here it was in the company of a KEWA.) Several bursts of song this morning and loud, metallic chip notes alerted us to its presence, but it wasn't until this evening that it announced itself at the water feature and made itself visible. This is #142, Swampy. Tied again.

For the record, a new lifer for the yard sailed through on Sunday. #141/170 was a female NOHA slowly rising on thermals over the south field.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Century Club!

Well the Haas Tract hit a hundred birds today. Just imagine my surprise as I walked into the kitchen, only to see an adult male GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER hanging off the screen! I know, not quite a BTYW out the office, but good enough for the girls I date! Well this of course meant I needed to spend the rest of the evening birding in the yard, and I am glad I did. In addition to the Golden-wing (a great bird on Lake Superior, to put it into context, I have never seen this species at Whitefish Point, and they are a VERY uncommon and localized breeder in MQT County), I got a 2nd brand new, all-time yard bird in the form of a flyover AMERICAN BITTERN!

From there, passerine birding was great this evening. Quite the warbler flock spent the evening foraging and included many, many Nashville's, a couple each of Tennessee, Cape May, American Redstart, and Myrtle Warblers, as well as 3 Scarlet Tanagers (another very uncommon bird for my house), RB Grosbeaks, RT Hummers, lots of Purple & Goldfinches, both Red-eyed & Warbling Vireo (the later only my 3rd or 4th ever for the Haas Tract!), and 10+ Common Nighthawks migrating over.

And there is still so much more to come!