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, December 21, 2012

Game set match

Well gentlemen, I am officially done birding my yard for 2012 and will end the year with 181 avian species. Never thought I'd Achieve this in one calendar year, and I don't expect to match it again for at least a decade (my next residence will not be in view of big water).

So how does it feel to receive a good ole country shellacking, BOYZ? (actually I remember the feeling well)

Oh yeah, we should start to brainstorm the blog for 2013- what are your thoughts?

Monday, December 10, 2012

First excitement in a while

Was definitley hoping for this to happen, but honestly can tell you I NEVER expected it actually would! I thought they had all moved south of me by now. BAM!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Walked out to the car and was greeting by a faint jeep.  A quick scan of the surrounding conifers first reveled a lurking Merlin towards the highway - then a couple of these charmers in the neighbors hemlock.  The first crossbills of any "type" for the Swamp Lair. It's my first new yardbird since mid September and arguably the most overdue (especially with mature Hemlock nearby)....#187 tic.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Back in the UP

I've been "out of the yard" for a month -- it's late fall in the U.P.  Tons of birds to shift through at the feeder and the yard (mainly small finches, tree sparrow, and juncos).  The notables are TONS of Pine Grosbeaks and Bohemian Waxwing.  I suspect that both species will have EPIC incursions into the south.

Also have heard a couple of flocks of Red Crossbills -- still haven't scored it at the Swamp Lair - it's my only bird goal for the remainder of 2012...

The other interesting thing at the feeder is 9 cardinals last night....5 males, 4 dull birds.  Not sure what to make of that.  Red-bellied Woodpecker is also back after an absence of almost a year.

Rounding out the goodies was a male Sharp-shinned Hawk stalking the feeder this morning and a flyby Northern Harrier.

The hummingbird juice is frozen solid...

What's on tap for 2013?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Century bird

I managed to snag a half hour of watching the sky today and was rewarded with a sharp looking dark morph RLHA circling up high with 115 SACR before setting its wings and zipping over (#100).  It was followed shortly by 4 CACG (#101) with some CANGs (way overdue considering how common CACG is around here).  We're actually moving back up to WI next week, so this will likely be my last blog post from this yard.  It's been fun, I was glad to break the symbolic 100 barrier for this yard before leaving.
#99 came in the form of some CORE in the neighbors birches last week.  And I had my county RECR about 300 yards north of the yard a few weeks back, but I wasn't in the yard when I picked them up - near miss!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Red Crossbill 148/195

While standing in the driveway waiting for family to pile in the car to go to my Aunts for Thanksgiving dinner I discerned the call notes of at least two Red Crossbill flying high over the treetops. Yard Lifer 195!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What's your type?

For the 3rd time in 2012, I just had a Red Crossbill over the house. Difference this time is that I was finally ready to record it. Here you go:


Cool thing too, is that Matt Young of CLO responded to my email about call type within minutes, confirming it as type 3. Pretty freaking cool! (even though I don't get a year tick)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lots of *talk*. . .

Lots of *talk* about Evening Grosbeaks. Well, here's an actual *photo* of an Evening Grosbeak, in my yard earlier this afternoon:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Evening Grosbeak 147/194

I had 2 calling birds fly over as I was filling the feeding stations. Yard Lifer 194! Keep your ears open, they are all over the place here in the lower penninsula of MI right now.

Monday, November 5, 2012

...and the winner is...?

White-winged Crossbill!  #100 for the year and #108 for life.

I thought it woulda been RECR...or RLHA.  I'll take it though!  Now I can breath a sigh of relief...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Northern Shrike

I went home for lunch this afternoon and was rewarded with this (photo made while standing in my living room):

Saturday, October 27, 2012


early morning trash run landed a calling GHOW

any guesses on what #100 will be?  my list is updated in the Google Docs spreadsheet...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sweet nocturnal recording

Listening to the feed just now and heard duck wing whir (as I often do). This time, however, it was followed by an obviously louder, much slower wing whir, then a vocalization betraying the identity of the source. Pretty cool stuff, never gets old.


BTW, this is a first of fall observation of this species for me!

And are any of you dorks good enough to ID the sparrow seep at 0:04?

Friday, October 19, 2012

NAWA #98 for Year

A total salvage tick this afternoon during my lunch time checklist...

Prairie Hardwood Transition BCR

Monday, October 15, 2012

and just when you speak...

RUDU appears in the gap in Whitefish Lake, briefly (a white-cheeked basic male next to a PBGR), then disappears back toward the middle of the lake. So there it is peeps- the only time in my life I'll probably ever reach 180 in a year in my yard!

Still hoping for WIWR, HOGR, and maybe one or two final bonus birds (I'll throw out there a left-field ICGU/THGU in December and some other relative mega {how about EVGR flyby?})

on the cusp of 180, but stuck

for some reason I just cannot get a view of any of the RUDU (or the few HOGR) which have been around on Whitefish Lake recently from the yard. 4 days ago I even had 2 very late FOTE out there in the rain which refused to show themselves as well, and would have been an excellent salvage from when I missed it in April and May the same way.

But where in the hell is WIWR?!? This one perplexes me, and I have spent a lot of time in the back woods, and watching the bath, without any appearances. Really not sure what is going on with that one.

And while this won't provide me any kind of tick, it sure struck me as late:

Friday, October 12, 2012


Check out what happened behind the cold front last night in WI. Get ready AABO and SEFI.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Totally excited to score #97 for the yard today...and that was just after I scored #96 (NOFL), which I didn't realize was still a year/yard lifer tick for me.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Sunday, October 7, 2012

more mundane than normal, but still cool

Just listening to the night sky with my microphone when this guy started singing directly above the mic:


I'm calling it

Who says they aint making anymore lakeshore?   Chris and I meandered to our "property line"last night which has been disappearing steadily for the past two years -- the waters edge is now .6 miles from the "ordinary high water mark"(our backyard).  In September Lake Michigan was 1 foot above the all time low water mark of the mid 1960s.  It seems to have dropped even more since then so we are calling the bottom!  The photo tells it all.

With the low water we our property now measures 150' x 3,389' or 11.6 acres - how extreme is that??

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Peregrinus to spite SIPU

Snagged a couple yardbirds this afternoon before the huge front hit.  It was fitting that I was on the phone with SIPU when I had the PEFA soar over with a RTHA.  All tied up with AABO again!

Edit to include a shot of 3 bedraggled PUFI in one frame:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Vireo solitarius

Two yard birds in one day!  This BHVI was also a county tick...

Perspective - MI vs. WI

Life Yard Bird

BTBW!  I can't believe it...adult male too.

#92 for the year.  #104 for life.  Interestingly, my county tick was two days ago.  And within this area (Janesville-Beloit-Rockford) I only had one before when I was a kid.  Much more common as you get closer to Lake Michigan.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Another Lifer Yardbird

A WISN wized over head on the morning of 9-28. Another long overdue yard lifer. That's 193.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Thanks CUDY

for calling and providing a stimulus to go out and score this yard lifer (179/179)

and these, as part of my daily checklist



My cousin told me this weekend about this place in Florida after I told him about our yard blog.  I don't think he really knew what to make of it...and then started talking about this bar.


End of year celebratory music?

This is some strange twist of fate, but I just randomly bumped into this song on the web. Title seems like some kind of omen.

If I hold out (I am waiting for your home stretch comeback RIBR) and win, shall I use it?


Friday, September 28, 2012


These are not species I see many individuals of this time of year. Neither is a year tick, but the latter is only my 2nd. The former bred here but has been absent for months:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Laughably Overdue Lifer #192

Considering that I live a mile from Lake MI and less than that from the Kalamazoo River and it's backwaters where it breeds - this bird is long overdue. I tried not to get excited about it, but it is 192 for the yard so I did at least celebrate the irony of it with a brief laugh. I heard the powerful whine of this large bird's wings long before it came into view. Any guesses? No more clues as I'll easily give it away.

Yard Rarity

A Tufted Titmouse miraculously appeared at The Cheddarlands just 15 minutes ago.  It's amazing what you can find if you just go out every now and then and look.  It's just a titmouse kinda neighborhood.

TUTI = year #91 (if I can hit 100 for the year, I'll die a happy man); #103 life

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Last night's catch

Let's get right to the important stuff first. I had a possible Le Conte's Sparrow around midnight which is here:

Still working out the ID, but the very long duration was obvious but may not be quite the norm (it apparently averages 0.2 seconds, mine was around .15-.18 depending on how you interpret the end of the note. More soon...

Here is a sampling of the mega flight which occurred:

Zeep, possibly BLBW

COYE (lots last night):


CSWA I presume:
 No clue! (there aren't supposed to be any upslurred buzzy warblers, and it's too high for thrushes)


mystery zeep

Sparrow sp.

 WTSP (one of many)


zeep, possibly BLBW

Fun stuff, more soon once I decide if I am getting any ticks out of talll this!


Heading to bed after a couple hours on the roof. It was really hopping- the Grand rapids radar is weird tonight. There was no reflectivity as the sun went down, then this horizontal push of birds showed up, apparently behind a cold front at upper levels?? Anyway, I just listened to well over a hundred seeps, thrushes, and sparrow calls including some very interesting ones which I cannot WAIT to investigate on the sonograms tomorrow (have to wait for recording to finish before trying, otherwise I have to pause the recording). One of which was a *very* long downslurred note suggesting LCSP (possibly FISP?), the other sure as heck sounded like the long cascading downslurred note of HESP (like a LCSP with a slight BOWA jingle quality to it). 

More in the AM. Get out there!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


So the google doc shows our totals as:

Kat 112
RIBR 142
CAPU 178
Skyler 45
JD 11

ANJO and WWJD- surely these are way wrong, right? Let's get this puppy updated!

Friday, September 21, 2012

getting closer to #100 for the year

GCKI in my "conifer grove" - #89 for the year


Dateline Escanaba: Hudsonian Godwit - Chase Place

Need I say more?  This LIFE yardbird extends my godwit streak to 4 migration seasons.  I'm a happy boy, wallowing in my warbler-less swamp.

Septembre 19th

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What would we do without NFCs?


And here is me calling out what I correctly suspected it to be:

and here is 178/178 (sonogram isn't obvious by sight, but you can hear it)

For you doubters, here is another, better HETH:

And a GCTH, included just for how well the sonogram turned out:

Please keep calling me guys

Since most of my yearbirds occur when someone calls which spurs me to go outside. This time's benefactor was JOKA, who called while looking at a Hudwit, 2 dowitchers, and who knows what else rares at Chase Place, donated this monster salvage to me (176/177):

Expecting that last night's listening session will net me SAVS and HETH, but time will tell.

SEFI Getting a Thrashing


Just for the record, BRTH (#102 life) is an uber good bird around here.  There's basically no scrubby type habitat anywhere in the neighborhood.  This bird was hopping between my "conifer grove" and the neighbor's crab apple tree.

Interesting Comparison - God's Country Wins

Edit by SEFI:
AABO's old yard: 

AABO's new yard:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

At The Waterhole Yesterday

Only the Black-throated Blue was new for the year (141).