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, April 30, 2011

It's our turn in the s. LP


The century mark

Hit the century mark today in style with a Northern Harrier.

More please...

Franklin's Gull (#50), Black-throated Gray Warbler (#51), and Brown-headed Cowbird (#52). Taking Haastages... Oh wait, forgot Western Kingbird (#53) and Tree Swallow (#54).

Here they come...

AABO & SEFI - you have a responsibility to give a report later today:

Friday, April 29, 2011

The occidental birder

Started the evening hearing my first warbler song of the year, which lead me to a decent group of new spring migrants. After watching WFIB flocks going back and forth over the house, and seeing a bunch of WCSP still hanging around (it's getting late guys), a gang of 6-8 spectacular male Audubon's Warblers came boppin' into the trees. After checking every single one for a Myrtle (no luck), I came across a sweet score - Virginia's Warbler (#48)! Not new for the all-time list, but new for the year and just a really cool bird all around when you haven't seen that many. At that point I realized it wasn't just an AUWA fallout, so after a careful scan, I came across 3 mind-blowing adult Lazuli Buntings, also FOY (#49). Can't wait for a sunny morning...

Day at Home to Catch Up

The past couple of days have added a few birds here including Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (44) and Nashville Warbler (45).

Today I spent at home and scored in on several year birds and one lifer yard bird...

-Brown Thrasher (46)

-Rose-breasted Grosbeak (47) - female

-Broad-winged Hawk (48/115) - Adult bird soaring at tree top level. This one had been on my radar for MUCH too long. Nice to finally score this for the yard.

-Double-crested Cormorant (49) - 2 Flybys - only the second record for this bird here.

It's nice to finally put some legs on this yard for the year. First sunny day in weeks will do that.
So sorry to bake you, Bread. And look out, Haas, the day's not done - you're next!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

More Yardage - 187

A bird I have had maybe three times in the county became yardbird 88/187 this morn. A young Black-crowned Night-Heron flew up from what I estimate to be a grown over pond on the old golf course. Viewed from the west boundary, the bird flew to the south west over the tree line.

Quite a lot of the usual's have entered the picture as the season has progressed and since I posted last, so I will not bore you all with what's expected. Here, however, are some of the recent highlights:
COLO x 3 - 15 April
VESP - 15 April
BOGU - 18 April
GRYE - 19 April
CATE - 25 April

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An interesting redpoll

Had an interesting redpoll in the yard on Sunday. Here's a link to two photos and a *very brief* analysis:


I'd be interested in your comments on this bird.


I love Rusties, I love their song, I love their choice of habitat, I love that piecing pale eye, and also cause you know they are steadfastly a union-label bird. What else they is super-dooper rare in my yard and this week has seen only the second documented occurrence of this species to the Haascienda (dry aspen/oak/pine hill as opposed to a wooded swamp).

Also new today was a singing Chipping Sparrow in the yard, I've had a few elsewhere, but they are just starting to trickle in. While watching a Willet on the beach this morning, my adviser (and nearby neighbor) mention Common Loons were calling as they headed over the neighborhood, but missed that one!

Which will win this spring?! My urge to (as typical....) roam across the UP as a one-man mobile bird observatory? Or will Four-Freaking-Plus bucks have me a bit more home this spring? I will say, I am FAR more impressed with my April flock of feeder birds (in regards to abundance and richness.....) then I was last year. Dare I say it..... the year I get Painted Bunting at the Haastage Negotiator's???

Time will tell......

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


The laziest Yard birder ventured forth after waking up at 11am. Good birding out there! In the same FOV I enjoyed 3 male orioles one OROR and two BAOR feeding in a Buckeye tree. It was a PAWA powow today, many many. Glorious looks (right infront of me at 10 feet sometimes) at a YTWA and BAWW. Also had my FOS SCTA, a female, and FOS RBGR. PUMA was nice also amongst others I'm too lazy to type out. 87sp. so far with more to come. This was in my yard yesterday, a good one for my yard.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

New Yardage Potential

Trees make all the difference. But, there aren't so many trees that I can't do some solid skywatching from the new place (fyi...I'm taking nominations for a new moniker; aka The Megalands, The Cheddarlands, etc.). Most of the neighborhood seems to be adorned with fairly old maples, although I've spied hickory and oak here and there. As for conifers, I have my own little con grove right in the back...hopes are high. There's also enough scraggly scrubby stuff around to keep sparrows and the like interested. As of yesterday, I managed to get up to 21 species. As of today, I jacked that up to 33. Light southerly winds brought in a decent hawk migration (24 BWHA, 1 RSHA, 1 TUVU, 1 COHA, 3 RTHA) but also encouraged a few bonus species. Can we say American White Pelican? Other lucky snags were DCCO and a couple of HERGs. ::Keep in mind that the Rock River is about a mile to my west so this geographic feature may prove quite interesting::

The highlight of the day was a gorgeous male Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Anyone else have RBGR yet?
Looks like I moved just in time. I'll be seeing the rest of you from the right side of the warbler-war finish line...

Spring Newbies

After a week of rain and wind, I finally picked up a few spring newbies. Northern Rough-winged Swallow (#44), Hairy Woodpecker (#45), Cassin's Finch (#46), and Bank Swallow (#47). Barn swallows are now everywhere, heard Lincoln Sparrow singing from the brush near the neighbor's feeder, several flocks of White-faced Ibis flying along the Colorado River, and still tons of White-crowned Sparrows lingering. I bet they'll be gone within the week. It's officially spring here at 4500 ft., green leaves and everything, even had to mow the lawn. If I could just get a Franklin's Gull flyover or a Vermillion Flycatcher overshoot, that'd be the ticket...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Booby Prize

seems more like something for the summer doldrums, but ... was thinking ... (always a bad idea) ... what if at the end of the year we had a prize for the lamest bird NOT seen in 2011?

obviously "lamest" bird has a micro-context (e.g. mallard would be a mega in my yard), so to truly be lame it would have to be a species you've seen before in a previous year ... but, come to think of it, that would be a function of how long (or intensely) you've been birding your yard, and would eliminate Aaron at his new place, and I can think of plenty of lame contenders I've never seen from the yard. So we could just put it up to a vote at the end of the year.

Too soon to tell, but I'm pulling for phoebe in my yard.

Friday, April 22, 2011

slowly but steady....

Being the farther-est north of us all, I have had to patiently wait for the birds Ben & Boots were reporting last month, but, things have started to go from a drip to now a trickle in the metaphorical and actual bird-bath that is my yard. Exciting today was a Winter Wren, a bird I missed last year. Even more exciting has been waking up to singing Fox Sparrows outside my window all week long. It's been a real treat!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Loose change

Emptying my pockets from the last week … pennies and nickels: n rough-winged swallow, house wren … a few quarters: pileated woodpecker (always a good bird in a treeless neighborhood, still can’t turn up a hairy),

purple finch (hit or miss at the feeders in winter but usually a dependable April migrant), orchard oriole … and a nice crisp twenty dollar bill: today a long-awaited first eastern towhee for the yard.

This has been near the top of my list of surprisingly hard to get yard birds - despite the dearth of scrubby cover in the neighborhood, I would have expected this common species to turn up sooner. Same goes for eastern phoebe, which I expect to whiff on this year, having already missed the late winter/early spring window (and they don’t nest around here for some reason, despite plenty of inviting eaves).

The towhee puts the all-time list at 97. Looks like we have a nice final sprint for the century mark underway…

Finally a few to add...

The weather here has been horrible this spring for birding, but went out in the wind, cold and rain anyway today and was able to pick up 4 year birds in 40minutes of birding:
Hermit Thrush - 2 (36)
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 2 (37)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - 1 (38)
Field Sparrow - 1 (39)

Still waiting on a few gimmee's yet too. Just gimmee some sun and southerly winds!

Sunday, April 17, 2011


A good one from the liar - bantam sized shorebird with a nice long upcurved bill (#168,#60). I chased down to the new house (the Chase place) and tried to ID but it was too close to dusk and too far out. It looked a little smaller than a ring-billed gull so I'd guess Hudsonian but maybe I can catch up with it tomorrow.

It's killer cold today (high of 35), icy snow this morning, I feel sorry for the birds -- a flock of Tree Swallow (#59) came into the yard in the evening and were trying to figure out where to roost, landing several times in the neighbor's cedar all clumped together. Also had a Swamp Sparrow briefly at the feeder along with 40-50 tree sparrows. Low of 22 tonight. That can't be good for creepers.

CHSP=#37 and last for the year

Well it was a fun run but it wasn't destined to last forever. The Wastelands are officially "färdiga" for the blog comp. We're officially moved into our new abode and we're loving the fact that we now actually have a yard. Pictures will come soon and highlights so far are WTSP and BCCH. (I hear that sniggering!) But seriously, these species are signs of good things to come. And one of your new neighbors has one of those epic feeder station set-ups complete with squirrel ropes-course. Looks like I'll be saving some mad coinage on sunflower seeds...

Our new place is a little over one mile from the Rock River. This afternoon while walking through downtown, a pair of AWPEs flew over...hopefully a sign of good things to come, since I'll likely not get the chance at the impressive flyover nabs I had at T.W.

The last bird of the year for T.W. was a Chipping Sparrow on Friday. I ended the yard list with a total of 74 species. This is something I didn't expect, especially considering that there was only one 20'+ tree visible from the slab.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Usual Suspects

For some reason, every new spring species in the Grand Valley (Black-chinned, Black-throated, Brewer's, Sage, Vesper and sparrows, White-throated Swift, plus 4 more species of swallows!) is pretty much avoiding my yard or to far away in the scope to positively ID ("speck" swallows over the Colorado National Monument). The aerialists will be gimmes in about a month, so until then, I'm going to enjoy the usual cast of characters (LISP, WCSP, AMGO, AMRO, BBMA, SSHA, MODO, etc.) - what Jack Connor called "unexpecting the expected". I did pick up a flock of 19 White-faced Ibis #43 flying over the Colorado River through the scope last Thursday, but it's about time for a big spring push!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My last first spring Dendroica??

So one of my favorite early spring events is the parasitic relationship that Myrtle Warblers have with Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. This little comedy routine just played out in my front yard, where the FOS Myrtle is busy stealing sap from a sucker, something that the syrup-loving woodpecker is ignoring it's namesake and repeatedly chasing off the warbler from its sap wells.

Good times!

Ice - out

Wandered out to the platform last night to watch the sunset and upon arriving had a Short-eared Owl flying over giving me the look (and the third straight migrations season!). Pretty quiet after that, though the whirling of goldeneye wings was conspicuous in the dark. Little Bay de Noc ice went out April 11th. Added a spur of nice yardbirds this week including NOPI, AMBI, AMWI, and RUBL.

Serious yardbirding has been sparse for me for due to a lot of juggling irons right now, the most interesting was salvaging from a 1860's house that got demolished yesterday to feed a 1940's house that Chris and I closed on Monday. It will be a year before the transition to the new yard is complete but I think it's going to be a HUGO improvement over the Swamp Lair. No more Calidris sp. for this sucker.

WITU Shall Add #114

I added several birds over the last few days here. Best one being a new life yard bird - 2 Wild Turkeys (34/114) scurrying along the boarder of the woodlot. I thought it would eventually happen here, but those turkeys had to cross some major roads to get to this island of habitat! I'm a good 1.5 miles from any decent habitat corridors.

Other notables include:

Eastern Phoebe (32) - 4/11 (woke me up signing up a storm just outside my window. 4/12 also.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (33) - 4/12 (but no Golden-crowned yet...what gives?!)

DAZL, you'll just have to work a little harder to catch me now... Haas, I'm still on your tail! And could it be possible that I could catch Joe, even if just for a short while?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Another nice combination

Had three Evening Grosbeaks in the yard yesterday. Here's a crummy shot of one of the two males, through my living room window:

E. Grosbeaks are around in the U.P., but not so common in Marquette, so always fun to have in the yard. Also, yesterday, I had two Yellow-rumped Warblers in the yard. Here's a shot of one of them:

Cool to have E. Grosbeaks and warblers in the yard on the same day. A good yard day all around, cause I also added a new bird to the yard list: Red-tailed Hawk. Before you laugh your ass off at my delay at adding such an "easy" species to my yard list, I should point out that we've only been in this house since last June (i.e., this is our first spring in this house), and Marquette is in a heavily wooded area, so not great for Red-tailed Hawks. Ya sniping bastards. . .

Spring-like weather finally hits the north coast...

...and I spent the day inside at a fish auction.

However, I've picked up some new yard birds, including this stunner (digibinned):

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bringing the Cheddar

Well dudes, someone had to do it for this blog. As of next weekend, I'll be moving my family to the great state of Wisconsin. I can honestly say that I enjoyed making a concerted effort to waste time birding at a location with absolutely ZERO habitat. It was fun but it's simply time to move on.

The new yard comes replete with....TREES! So I'll be moving just in time to actually have a chance at wasting The Daz during the warby-war. Sky watching will not be nearly as good as it is here but you never know. If Slager can pull PEFA and NOHA out of his butt at The Slab, then I would say that I at least have a fighting chance to fork over my share of epic sky-nabs.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Having a Falconidae

#41, Prairie Falcon (where it frickin' belongs!). Meredith and I got a nice long look at it as it flew into the dust storm blasting out of Utah. Maybe this week of shit weather will blow a Vermillion Flycatcher my way...

Prairie Merlin

A spectacular female prairie Merlin almost nailed an AMGO right over the house, #40 and yard first. Watch out CAPU!

Mov'n on up with Woodcock

I'm slowly but surely adding a few here and there and finally made my way one step up the ladder. Sorry AABO, but I had to do it at some point - hope you enjoyed your lead over me while you had it. The obvious standout among my recent additions was a 4/1 American Woodcock - kicked up by myself and my sons as we explored in the woodlot. I lost it as it flew off over some neighboring houses and out of the woodlot. Nice score for me 3 years running. Now where are Golden-crowned Kinglet, E. Phoebe, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Chipping Sparrow and N. Flicker when you need them? These "gimmies" should take me another step higher. Look out Haas, you're next.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The floodgates are open.

The skies have delivered HERG (something of a piedmont rarity), DCCO, BARS, CHSW, TRES, OSPR, BWHA, and BRTH in the neighbor’s yard to boot.

Who’s gonna knock down Big Rig? (Incidentally, I loved your live album in the 70’s - Kat and I woke some sleepy cruise passengers late one night on the southern ocean rockin out to Do You Feel Like We Do)

Nice combination

Yesterday, I had an Eastern Phoebe in my yard (my first insect eating bird of the year). The redpolls still linger at my feeders, so it was cool to have the phoebe and both species of redpoll in my yard on the same day.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Shift of Winds

The storms and tornadic south winds that hit the yard early Monday morning took down some big trees, but also brought down some long overdue migrants. At 3am I awoke to the steadily rising grinding howl of what I contend was a tornado. After a quick check of weather maps & radar I headed for the basement. At that point it was 69 degrees in South Haven (15 miles south) and 45 here. The isobars were pretty tight. A walk through the yard carnage just after dawn Monday produced newly arrived YBSA, FOSP, SWSP, GCKI & EAPH. Sadly revealed as well was half of a 150+ year old sugar maple on the ground - formerly a major migrant attraction. At least four Fox Sparrow were enjoying the brushy rubble. Along the south boundary Golden-crowned Kinglet were flitting about in the remains of two freshly fallen 50ft. spruce.

Tuesday, a day off from work, allowed for a bit more extensive yard survey. The morning held more of the same as the day before, however a change in wind from the south in the pm delivered some additions for the year. TRES, BEKI, DCCO, WTSP, HETH & AMKE arrived along with a spectacular dark morph Western Red-tailed Hawk that circled directly overhead for several minutes. Of course, it was a point at which I neglected to have a camera in hand - DUH!

A BRCR greeted me this morning as I walked out of the house to bird in the rain. And at dusk tonight a pair of GBHE flew over. Stillaround are the territorial MERL and for a couple days there were not one, but two ORJU at the feeders at the same time.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Crane #37

Sandhill cranes flying over at sunset, #37. Eurasian Collared Doves nesting.

Multiple NRWS at The Wetlands

I have to admit that I was expecting PUMA or BARS to be the second swallow tick of the year for me here.  This afternoon at 430PM I had four Northern Rough-winged Swallows foraging with 25+ TRES over the ponds at The Wetlands.  They seemed to be perching more than the TRES but were calling quite a bit.  This sighting is a record early arrival for me personally in the midwest by 9 days (from my folks place in WI) and beats last years arrival here by 10 days.  Those southern winds are welcome to knock a few more early arrivals our way!  Also had my FOY RBWO here (surprisingly scarce - only my 11th record, with most coming last April when they are more vocal).  These two ticks bring me up to 54 for the year.  It was also cool watching AMCOs vocalize and then get territorial with each other (I watched a pair fight for over 5 minutes).
Still waiting on spizella and SWSP to show up and the ATSP and FOSP to move on.  One more warm front?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Frustration but There's Hope

Seeing all kinds of birds around the Grand Valley, but not from my damn yard - argh! Is this called the Hoary Redpoll effect? Found a probable MOCH cavity nest in the wash next to the house which was surprisng, so that's a start, plus some Mourning Doves "getting into it" like James Brown says. Couldn't get a visual on what sounded just like an Ash-throated Flycatcher, so there's hope for tomorrow.