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.

Friday, February 25, 2011

An introduction to the deer domain

PsilocybinPutty insisted on having me introduce myself and the more interesting part of me (my yard), so here goes.

Michelle and I bought a house last year in Cleveland Heights, and moved in at the end of spring migration. The selling point was a wide sunroom with five windows overlooking a small bit of lawn and then our fraction of a larger woods. The woods are surprisingly large given how suburban the location is, but it is a ravine with a small stream that runs year round, and thus it could not be developed. Yard is in yellow:

As you can see below, we are by the best woodlot for a few square miles. It was big enough to host a Wood Thrush and a Great Crested Flycatcher this summer. To the northeast is a golf course that is up for sale, and will either be developed or turned into a park; I am not optimistic (rumors are that it will become a damn Super WalMart!).
The current view out of the sunroom:

The summer view:

A friend bands birds a few miles south of here, and I think they end up in my yard occasionally. I don't know what species of bird this is (a canary?), but it has lovely jewelry.

I set up a water feature last year which was only marginally successful (Swainson's Thrush, Bay-breasted Warbler, in addition to the normal yard birds). I'll be looking to redesign it this year.

And last but not least is Ivor, the hound who patrols the land, ignoring birds and mildly deterring deer. We lost half our tomatoes and most of our peppers last year to the deer, as well as a lot of the ornamental plants. They are the scourge of northern Ohio.
My apologies for spelling everything correctly, using appropriate grammar, and not taunting anyone in this post - it won't happen again. I'll be more distracted as I run up a ginormous warbler list this May, I promise.

Red Robin, Red Tail

Had year birds 16 yesterday and 17 today.
An early (for the neighborhood anyway) Robin was chattering from the top of my Cherry Tree yesterday and today a Red-tailed Hawk soared low over the house while I was filling the feeders.
It's nice to finally see some new birds start to trickle in to my urban oasis.
I also updated all my google doc info so I'm ready to rock and roll!
Bring it on Spring!

Ahhhh, lifer.

Two Common Redpolls made a showing in the yard today ... (#25, #166). I like February surprises and yesterday's Eastern Chipmunk bested last years by 10 days!

NEWSFLASH - Update Escanaba. An open lead in Little Bay de Noc is developing and the ducks can't be far behind. An eagle on Portage Point was my first for the yard this year. An immy Coop was nice too.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thumbing Around

Since I haven't had the chance to tear it up at The Wastelands this week, I've taken full advantage of being in the "Thumb." Had some decent birds this week...best by far being a dark-morph adult "Western" Red-tailed Hawk...a stunning bird...

I also came across this tantalizing sign. Needless to say, I took the opportunity to "traspass" all over the place. Some of you might ask, "it snows in Alabama?" Nope...this is Pure Michigan...

Check this out Booner! Two of my favorite Yooper crazy signs (though props to your find!)


One of my all time Yooper favorites, and probably the only place it could have happened as it was during the aftermath of 9-11. (swampy).

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Two new contestants

OK boyz, we are almost done adding new contestants (victims), but not quite. I would like to introduce you all to two of the bigger blowhards I have come across on the birding trails, both of whom like posing as birders but most of the time fail to deliver the goods. Hence, their invites to this blog.

First is Andy Jones of Cleveland Heights, OH, aka ANJO. Andy is a native southerner from the mountains of NE "Tainsee", and it can still be recognized in his accent (and moonshine drinking skills). His favorite hobbies is ping pong and disco dancing... (yes, he too likes Borat). I mean: preserving as many of the birds he sees in life as possible as specimens, because it's much easier for him to ID them in hand, and his lists are much more respectable that way. It is also worth noting that Andy is a much more mature person than most of us, but with a little nudging I think we might get a few Beavis and Butthead quotes out of even him. ANJO, I'll let you take it from here. Perhaps a few words and photos about your yard? If you want to see some fresh evidence of his street cred or lack thereof, have a look at this gem:


I am sure the CleveMNH will appreciate this being posted to this blog!

OK, second on board is a mutual friend of Andy and mine: Brett Walker of Fruita, CO. Brett and I met at U of M, and not the one in Ann Arbor, the one in Missoula! He is a frothing-at-the-mouth ornithologist, like ANJO, and though he is fluent in Espanol, flyfishing, and contra dancing, he is about as poor a birder as anyone on the blog. When he and I were in s. Mexico backcountry in March 2001 tearing it up, some Mexicans phonetically learned to say his name in English as "Bread Walking", which translated back into Spanish is "Pan Caminando", and he has never been able to shake the moniker since. Brett's master's work on the stunningly colorful Brewer's Sparrow of Montana sagelands also led to his second best well known nickname: Bwewwew's Spawwow. I'll let you all figure out where that might have come from. Anyway, Brett is also a much nicer lad than many, and so may require some coaching in the art of yardbird blogging debauchery. Hopefully he can add a little western spice to this east dominated group. Brettster- how's about an introductory post from you as well showing us the yard? Here is a pic of Brett and I in a remote area of Oaxaca in 2001:
Now, let's get it ON!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Here we go!

Looks like Swamp Kat and the CP got this blog updated just in time!  Yesterday's record highs in Chicago-land (I think we just cracked 60...) melted pretty much all of the 22+ inches we had and inundated every low spot with standing water.  And on cue the waterfowl appeared.  The greens by my apt had large numbers of dabs and geese but unfort no diversity (234 MALL in 3 small fluddles was a record for me since I've been here).  The good news was that good numbers of birds were on the move as well. In 45 minutes of watching after work I picked up 3 GWFG, 6 CACG, 800+ CANG, and 6 COME (overdue yard lifer).  Equally impressive in their sudden influx into the area were 60+ RWBL including many singing and setting up territories.  I only squeaked out one grackle yesterday, but Boone told me he had several go over the wastelands earlier in the day.
Today it was colder but still above freezing, and the ground had soaked up most of the standing water.  But the ducks were still moving and I netted better diversity with my scope out along the western horizon.  The highlight was 2 Common Goldeneye (yard lifer), but the 3 NOPI, 26 Aythya sp, and 6 more COME weren't bad either.  Loads of dab duck sps too that were interesting.  Blackbird numbers were even higher today (50+ COGR) and I also snagged 3 more CACG. 
Nothing like an early thaw to get things jump started!
Good birding and welcome aboard newbs!

PS Mad props for figuring out the sweet graph showing our live progress.  An awesome touch!

While y'all were talkin smack yesterday evening ...

migration is on

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Scorched earth, baby

That’s what we started with. Whipped this yard into fightin' shape.

All natural, all native, all 0.11 acres of it. Calculated on a per acre basis, as I like to do, the all time yard count is 873 species per acre.
The tables are now updated, and I'm about to bust out the ceiling - that would be me the rocket trail going straight up. I pity you without fish crow.


WELCOME 2011 Pledges!

Here ye Here ye -- The fraternal order of Beta Iota Rho Delta welcomes the following two new members to our Beta Lambda Omega Gamma.

As a fellow Yooper, I take great pride welcoming J.D. "W.W.J.D." Philips of Marquette Michigan to the 2011 Yardbird Competition. There was considerable debate among our ranks whether or not J.D. was worthy of the Competition as he recently allowed the Secret Service to deny him a life yardbird when President Obama visited the U.P. last week. J.D. coward to these jack-booted Government thugs when they keep him from crossing the street (chicken?) so he could add the White Gull of the North to his yardlist. Above the chorus of WEAK and FEATHERWEIGHT our Beloved Order has decided to give J.D. a chance at redemption, and indeed he is showing promise; adding Glaucous Gulls just two-days after what was undoubtably a tramatic expericence.

The second featherweight I'd like to welcome is, David Shoch, Internationally known seabird guru (check second from bottom -- http://www.cheesemans.com/sogeorgia_oct12.html) that lives in one of those eastern states (Virginia, maybe?). His main qualification for joining the ranks is that he found the BLOG on his own (our nicknames can't mask our true identities forever), his backyard is a registered HMANA site, and he owns a camera. Most importantly he has the right attitude on what this is all about, the appropriate perspective on you all, and his advice proved prophetic. From the archives:

10 March - 2010

What are you doing hanging out with these


Like I can talk – I “just happened” to google yard lists and found this website, and feel so relieved to know I am not alone in my madness - I’m actually in the process of setting up a HMANA hawk count at the house.

I was impressed to see you put your construction skills to birding use. Are you going to set up an audio recorder on your roof? Got to catch those night migrants (that’s how you’re going to win).

David is known to me as Boots and I will let him explain why.


J.D & Boots how about a synopsis of your yard, it's location, size, and a puerile attempt at trash-talk? Best of luck to you both and I hope one of you proves worthy enough to claim 2nd-place.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wakeup call for you slackers!!

All right slackers- Kat and I have decided to get this sleepy blog up and running, on the heels of the current crazy warm spell. First, the sidebar and spreadsheets have been totally revamped. The first step is to have everyone go into the spreadsheet and update all orange cells I have highlighted for you. The first several columns in tab 1 are your 2011 tallies. I also need the 3 new invites (J.D., David, and Andy, introductory posts for these inductees soon), to update their life yardbird lists- in the columns immediately right of the 2011 yardlist columns, also in tab 1. The warbler war for spring 2011 tab is also up and ready- Warner and David I assume you have YRWA already???

Second, does anyone know how to create a chart of 2011 year tallies which will have species on y axis and each person on the x axis, and could automatically update itself with the google spreadsheet? This would be sweet.

Finally, I am officially calling for a new photo of each of you for the updated banner. So far I have only received 2 photos- so get off your rears and SEND THEM TO ME! And get outside and find something new.

Your dutiful leader, Silly

Monday, February 14, 2011

Snow Owl

Yep, at dusk over the Portage Marsh heading towards the airport, with my valentine of course.

First yard lifer for 2011.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

On a stiff south wind....

....an adult Bald Eagle floated above the house this morning while I filled the feeders.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Bohemian Waxwing

Well, what was a mind-blowing peak experience last December repeated as a "ho-hum that's nice" moment this week when a flock of Bohemian Waxwings stopped by the yard to say hello. They are starting to pirate the depleted fruit stock in town, raiding crabapple trees in the most urban sections of Escanaba. It won't be long before they have to head south for fruitier pastures. Hopefully that will give the rest of you the chance to add this little gem to your yardlists. There sure is a applecart full of them around this winter. Also a lot of Pine Grosbeaks too -- they have to be in the same boat as the waxwings.

Good luck...