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.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat

I walked outside this evening to look for trick-r-treaters and our dog Lilly ran out and around the corner. The next thing I saw - at eye level - was an immy goshawk coming around the corner. I'm pretty sure it was trying to nab one of our hens. It curved around the front yard and looked like it perched in the neighbors yard but I never saw it again. #151 on the year and #180 on the two year. Also from the yard --the Marble Godwit.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

yard birding- the nightmare edition

I awoke this morning from an incredibly vivid dream, the kind that you really have to convince yourself that "no, that didn't happen, it was just a dream..."

My dream was i had a Townsend's Warbler hopping around the ground in my yard with the sparrows- oh the horror! Im sweating.....

Friday, October 21, 2011

closing the gap

Hot day on the lair. The best was seeing Skye and Ryan The Force in my yard. Second best was five yearbirds. One lifer - horned grebe - replaces podiceps sp...


Gang of 6 meadowlarks flying down Portage Point going west. That bird is going dirt!
Marbled Godwit!
Horned Grebe - the first ever id'ed to species (146)
Gadwall pair (phew) - First of year (#147)
Rough-legged Hawk (#148) - first of the year
plover - undoubtably Black-bellied. Two, but not enough clarity to go diagnostic...makes me second guess the American's a few days back....humm.

In the evening - half dozen snow buntings (#149) roosting in the marsh.
A large flock of Redhead -- #150!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

RBNU in the spruce grove

This makes 82 for the year at The Cheddarlands.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

slowly but surely

Been adding only a few new ones lately. The weather has the yard much hoppier than usual as of late. Why this one took so long is seriously beyond me, but as I was mentioning to Sean on the phone my frustration at not being able to get it, one appeared on the feeder...

Also had 2 of these Red-eyed Sparrows show up today, joining the longstanding flock of WCSP at the feeder. This was an unexpected yardbird tooOn a serious note (that was a Kent tick for me), I also finally knocked off my first Accipiter in the yard, a SSHA which took a few swipes at the feederbirds. 61 and counting. Watch it Boonedoggle.

Toying with the big fella

After an April godwit sp. I was pleasantly surprised last night with a trip to the Swamp Lair; out amongst the sandbar Mallards and Black Ducks was a bantam sized Marbled Godwit.

The heavy winds this week have sucked all the water out of Portage Bay so I can now see shoreline from the platform, and with cooler temps I'm getting decent resolution (I'm exactly 1 mile from the mudflats). Other recent shorebirds have included a Pectoral/Dunlin, a second helping of Sanderling, and an American Golden Plover to replace a small handful of Pluvaris sp. of last year. The flurry doesn't change my overall yard total but inches me up to 144 for the yea

Monday, October 17, 2011


Figured with the strong west winds this morning something should be pushed inland from the big lake. Sure enough a couple female Northern Pintail (150) obliged mixed in with a flock of Mallard. A young peregrine liesurely flying south was 149 and an Am. Pipit before that provided 148. Fun again now with the Kat on my tail.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

4 yard birds in one day

Best day since spring migration? Or just a measure of how poor my yard has been this year. I say the latter as two of the birds were the normal gimmes of Palm Warbler and Clay-colored Sparrow. Both of those birds not only should have happened months ago, they should have happened several times over already! As for the other, Hermit Thrush is not regularly detected here at the Haas Tract, and Swamp Sparrows are not seen too often on my sandy, high elevation, aspen/oak suburban neighborhood.....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Best Starling imitation EVER!

I thought I heard a RUBL (common here in late fall) mumbling from the red maple above the house. While trying to block out the calls of a flock of RWBL in a neighbor's tree to focus on the Rusty I took notice of an incessantly signing bird that sounded dead-on for a meadowlark (albeit the song was whispery). I figure it was a EUST but when I tried to find the starling I came up an EAME instead. - Su-prise! It flew to an adjacent tree and sang every 1-3 seconds, including an occasional chatter, for approximately 15 minutes. I'm not use to fall meadowlarks signing non-stop in migration, so Im delighted. Lifer #179 for the yard and #140 for the year. Fall-of-the-year....

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Big Joke

Haven't downloaded the whole thing yet but what I heard scared me....


Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Well oh well, I have already blazed past Mr. Ireland in the life list competition (which took about 1 week), and Booner is about to be taken down as well. And I still don't have Hairy Woodpecker nor lots of other gimme species. Been monkeying with the new Canon DSLR/telephoto (which is SWEET) and still learning the ropes on exposure, aperture, and ISO. Here are some of the locals currently in the yard:


Unidentified Locustella sp. (identified solely by rectrix tip spacing):
WCSP (nice flock at feeder currently)
RCKI (new today)
Gone' be interesting whether RIBR can hold on with Kat on his tail... Also, where are our esteemed colleagues Jonesin, RAZL, Warned, and Bread?!?!? Are you guys still alive?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hat Trick

October 1, 2011

Woke early, checked the radar, nice flight. Clear, Orion high in sky, the odd seep note. Went back to sleep. Woke at dawn, high wispy clouds; perfect for migration. Gale force winds of the day before now calm, perfect again. I brewed coffee, gruffed at the empty feeder, then settled down in the chair to finish reading the BIG YEAR.

The tinge of guilt that has been pestering me all year was as strong as the coffee. I really should be out working the last vestige of migration. I kept turning pages. I should fill the feeders, scope for ducks, walk outside and listen. Instead I read about Sandy Komito, Al Levantin, and Greg Miller making good on their obsession birding across American. I couldn't musser the enthusiasm to travel across my yard. The story isn't that compelling, though I marvel at the author's ability to keep a three way “competition”, that began and ended on Attu (Komito spent more time there than the other two), "fresh".

I finished the book by 10 am. Feeling motivated, I made another cup of coffee. I fantasized about hiring guides to bird my yard and call me about missing birds while I loaf on the couch that we don't have. I felt a tang of motivation; IF I gave it my all I might be able to catch Big Rig Komito by the years end. My list of missed yardbirds for the year is impressive and some are still within the range of possibility.

A trumpet of cranes heard inside the house broke my reverie. 50 were flying over in a V.... I called for Chris and she came to look too, responding “what’s that other bird circling”….still amped from the Big Year I frantically scrambled inside to find my bins and cried “where, where”, sure-nuf a sky high Red-tail inched me closer to my own Sandy Komito: Big Rig Brigham. That was #137 for for the year….I kept scanning overhead; another tail, then a couple sharpies, broad-wing, another sharpy. With Golden Eagle nagging I went inside to pack for my trip downstate (Tigers baby!). Never thought my dreams of a yard-guide would be fulfilled so quickly.

Around 2 pm, I decided it was time to fill the feeders and check passerines on the way to the platform. I stepped into the backyard and was meet with movement at my usually lifeless water feature; Blue-headed Vireo…. #138 for the year and a life yardbird, #177.

I knew I had to make it a Hat-Trick so I could pound on here about my exploits. I walked 200 feet through alder and buckthorn to the platform. At the end of the trail I caught movement through dense cover --- a medium sized bird darted away. It looked awfully like a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher which meant it had to be a cuckoo – and this time of year undoubtably a Yellow-billed Cuckoo; a Code 3 Fall Vagrant in the UP and a Code 5 UP yardbird. A Cuckoo lost in a sea of alder, buckthorn, and willow. I climbed the platform and spent time contemplating how to salvage the title to this blog post. Was cuckoo sp. appropriate for a silhouette? Would I honestly answer this rhetorical question? I scanned the vegetation for sign of the cuckoo -- after 10 minutes of contemplation there it was, 50 meters away perched motionless on the branch of a white ash, just the way it was suppose to be. I retreated for my guide (Chris) and digiscope. #139 for the year and #178 for the yard. o.k. where's the snowcock??