Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New York City

Well no birding yet as I had hoped. Simon is on his 9th day of not smoking; using the patch. He hasn't been feeling like himself these last few days, but he is finally feeling a little better. Before he would point out every bird along the roadside. Yesterday he started spotting birds again or paying attention again! For example, three days ago I saw an eagle flying overhead and wasn't sure if it was a Golden or Bald Eagle. I didn't see any white on the head or tail, so it could have been juvenile Bald Eagle but also could have been a Golden Eagle. Simon showed really no interest so I'm happy he's feeling better and wanting to get out there again. If we have time we may stop at Presque Isle State Park at Erie, PA again.

Getting back to NYC! We were at Bellport, Long Island and had to get to Bridgeton, NJ so as Simon dealt with the traffic of the city I took pictures out my window of the city. I saw the Statue of Liberty, Freedom Tower, NYC skyline, and a bunch of bridges (each one my hubby knew the name of).
Skyline with Cemetery

Here is a cemetery in front of the skyline.
And a black and white of the skyline.

Verazano Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge

World's Fair
Old Fort It Looked Cool

These are a few of the interesting shots I got from yesterday hope you enjoy!
Happy Birding!!!!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Can't Wait To Get Out And Bird!!

We haven't had time to get out and bird yet, but we have seen some roadside birds while driving through Indiana. We spotted some Red-winged Blackbirds, American Crows, Rock Pigeons, probably some Starlings, and we saw some ducks and geese flying near some ponds. It's around 50 degrees here today and most of the ponds and lakes we have seen are thawing.
We just drove over a river that had a Great Blue Heron perched on a tree branch scoping out it's future meal.
Happy Birding!

Saturday, February 25, 2012


It has come to my attention that I have misidentified two of our birds on our blog. But luckily this does not affect our number. The first was down in Arizona. We had thought a thrasher was a Crissal Thrasher but it turns out it was a Curve-billed Thrasher. The second was down in Fort Worth,Texas. This was an ID that I actually identified right away when I took the picture; I've seen this interesting bird in the book and at the time was 100% sure it was an Ovenbird. Later on as we were preparing to go out birding at Elephant Butte, NM, I was doing some research on what some of the birds I was not familiar with looked like that we could expect to see there and one of them was the Hermit Thrush. And there was my "Ovenbird" from Texas. I have now corrected the post and am sorry for any inconvenience.
Happy Birding!!
Looks like we are finally gonna get some birding in soon!! Stay tune for updates!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ring-necked Pheasant

Well as we were traveling the rest of the way to Dickinson this morning Simon saw his first Ring-necked Pheasant. I grew up in South Dakota and the Pheasant is a part of South Dakota culture and Pheasant season bringing in millions of revenue into the state as thousands of hunters come to the state every year. My family hosted out of state hunters so I have seen Pheasants before and was not as excited as he was.
Ring-necked Pheasant
We saw three more along the way, but only stopped for one of them. Hoping to see another one soon so we can get a better picture! Happy Birding!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cackling Geese along with some Canada Geese on the right
Well recently we have been fairly inactive with birding, but my husbands tooth is getting better and I'm hoping we get more time to bird. We are down in Denver, Colorado today heading up to North Dakota. When we were handling our trailer being overweight we drove by these geese that happened to look Cackling Geese. The pictures are a little blurry but they are Cackling Geese!! Another lifer and that puts our Big Year to 152.

Rock Pigeon

We also saw an interesting Rock Pigeon the coloring on this one was cool. He/she was with a group of other Rock Pigeons and where hanging out at TA Truck Stop near the scale. Got a couple shot of this colorful bird, most people usually find these birds a bother. But not us, they can be quiet interesting to watch. as they walk they move there head back and forth and come in a wide variety of colors. Respect all living things and see the beauty that they have.
Happy Birding!!!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Pure Luck!

Harris's Sparrow
Harris's Sparrow
Well we managed to get a lifer today just by luck! We pulled into a rest area not to bird since its been raining since we woke this morning so Simon could get on the net for a little bit and I made lunch. I happened to put the window down just to listen for any bird activity. I actually hear some singing away! To bad it wasn't raining we probably would have went for a walk. I was looking, searching the trees when I noticed a small songbird fly into the tree; then over to the other side of the truck. We looked out Simon's window and saw a flock of Dark-eyed Juncos. Then Simon spotted a bird with a yellow head and thought it might be a warbler. We put on the 500mm lens and located the bird and took a couple more pictures. I stepped out of the truck and got a few more and was eager to identify this new bird knowing it was something new. First I looked at the Longspurs and nothing quiet matched up so I flipped to the sparrow section of my Stokes Field Guide and just pure luck turned right to the Harris's Sparrow page! Their it was! So exciting when you can identify a bird without help from others; I must say my identifying skills have improved very much so!!

As I was uploading the photos of the sparrow from today there was photos of what Simon had thought were Brewer's Blackbirds, (taken on the 17th) but I thought that they looked more like Brown-headed Cowbirds and I was right!!
Brown-headed Cowbirds

Happy Birding!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Too Much Rain, Not Enough Birding...

What we woke up too yesterday.
We haven't been able to bird since the 12th. A combination of events has prevented us from getting out, well we did go out for a short one; didn't get anything new though. Simon and I had dentist appointments, Valentines Day, and then on the 15th we had plans to go to a nature center but we got a load and had to cancel our birding. Ever since then we have been on a tight schedule heading to a subburb of Dallas, Texas.
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon Group)

Eurasian Collared Dove
Landscape at the rest area
Yesterday we were heading south on US Highway 191 and came to Hole in the Rock rest area; we stopped for about 45 minutes. We saw House Sparrows, House Finches, Dark-eyed Juncos, and Eurasian collared Doves. The House Sparrows where singing high in the trees. The House Finches and Dark-eyed Juncos were competing and singing for their spot in the trees between the canyons. Then there was the Eurasian Collared Dove who was hooing like an owl. We started to get excited and looking in the trees for an owl but also remembered that ECD make a similar sound to owls. Keeping in mind that the rest area attendant had told us that he feeds ECD among other birds; we finally spotted the ECD. We shot a couple shots of him and headed for the truck and down the road we went.
We have just made it to Texas and just have to get to the Dallas area and we will be done for the day. Hope to get some birding in soon. Happy Birding!!

Hole in the Rock, Utah

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rouen Duck
Well no birding today. I got done at the dentist from them cleaning the left side of my mouth; yesterday they did the right side, we had to rush out the door and go 90 miles south to pick up our next load. We are happy to get back out on the road but we were really looking forward to a few places around Ogden, UT. But as we were getting to the shipper there was a pond on the side of the street in front of this other shipper which had some white ducks maybe geese and Canada Geese. We got loaded and on our way out we snapped a few photos.
One of the male Mallards, or what looks like a Mallard, was the size of Godzilla! There is a female Mallard stand in front of him for a size comparison.

Well I have just learned what these ducks are actually called! But I like Godzilla Mallard! Happy Birding everyone!!

Pekin, Rouen, and female Mallard Ducks

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day everyone! I hope everyone got something special from their special someone. I got a root canal and my teeth cleaned; very romantic right! I thought I was just going to have it pulled but they say they could save it so that's what we decided to do. Once I was free from the dentist I got out to the truck and spotted a dozen roses and some chocolates and a stuffed frog. My honey is so sweet!!
Our plans for tomorrow we hope to have time to go over to Antelope Island State Park. But we've got to get out there somewhere because we haven't been birding in two days now.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Elephant Butte State Park

Rainbow Over the Marina at Elephant Butte

 Yesterday we made plans to stop at Elephant Butte Dam and try and get some more birds! We were about thirty miles away and it was starting to sprinkle; not good for birding! But once we got to Truth or Consequences (yes that really is the name of the town) the sprinkles had stopped and the sun was trying to come out. We had phoned the park ahead of time and got the information we needed to get to the prime birding trail as the lady called it. That got us excited~prime birding trail sounds like a great time!
Brewer's Sparrows

As soon as we parked the truck I got out and could here birds singing. Simon went and paid the pay box; which was five for cars and fifteen for buses, we only had a ten dollar bill so I guess a semi is between a car and a bus. We headed over to the trail head and saw all these sparrows flying around in the bushes and then I spotted a Cactus Wren. After getting a couple shots of him he was tried of getting his picture taken and flew away. There was these camping sites along the river, next to the trail, so we decided to walk along the camp sites first and then make our way to the trail. Since no one was camping in this area there were birds everywhere. We spotted some Pyrrhuloxia, Spotted Towhee, and House Finch.
Cactus Wren
Male House Finch
The Pyrrhuloxia is a very interesting bird as you may have noticed it looks a lot like a Northern Cardinal. A few differences are the beak on a Northern Cardinal has a straight opening and the beak opening of the Pyrrhuloxia is slight curved downward. The males have a splash of red going down their bellies and the rest of their bodies are gray as with a Northern Cardinal the males are red all over and have black around the beak. With the Pyrrhuloxia the coloring behind the beak is a dark red. The females on the Northern Cardinal are brownish red overall. The female of the Pyrrhuloxia is grey allover with red only on sides of wings, crest and very little behind the beak. Also a person can only find a Pyrrhuloxia as known as the Desert Cardinal in three southern states: Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. With the Northern Cardinal it can be seen midwest to the east coast. Both are very pretty birds, but the Northern Cardinal is my favorite. Now getting back to our day.
Female Pyrrhuloxia
We started to make our way to the trail and we spotted some White-crowned Sparrows; these guys are everywhere it seems! We hadn't even gotten on the trail yet and we already saw six different species! Once we got on the trail the activity defiantly slowed down. There was some nice scenic shots along the river that I look advantage of which will be on my Flickr sometime hopefully by tomorrow. But anyways we did spot well, maybe hear a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. That little fella was making all kinds of racket as we walked by. We had a little trouble finding him in the thick trees he was hiding in but we only got 3 shots and he flew away. We went a little further and were coming to the end of the trail when we heard some chirping. We were able to spot a group of White-crowned Sparrows and Dark-eyed Junco taking a bath and decided to go down along the shore on the river. Then we saw a Song Sparrow and a woodpecker but were suddenly distracted with sighting a Phainopepla; which is and all black bird except for its red eyes with a crest. I think it the shape of a Northern Cardinal but no red. Also a southern bird only found in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Texas.
Spotted Towhee
We were walking up the bank to find that woodpecker when I pointed out to Simon the Crissal Thrasher on the ground. We followed him around for a little bit. Then don't fly away like some birds do it seems they prefer to walk. We saw the woodpecker and identified him as a Hairy Woodpecker. Then we headed back to the truck and didn't spot too much less but came across a Green-tailed Towhee on the ground searching for seeds. That towhee was very interesting to watch and let us get fairly close also.
Green-tailed Towhee
We then made our way to the Dam where we saw a lot of Ring-billed Gulls, Common Mergansers, and Western Grebes. This very nice man let us walk out on the marina dock and get some pictures of those birds. Hope you didn't find this entry too long but I found it such an exciting day.
Today we decided to take the day off and might have to take tomorrow off as we are actually taking a day off of driving to get some dental work done on both of us. So we will be a little sore and on Valentines Day not looking forward to it at all. Happy Birding!!
Western Grebe

Common Mergansers

Common Merganser Male(L) with 2 females
Male is in breeding plumage

Western Grebe, Common Merganser, and Ring Billed Gulls

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Snowy Egret
The last few days have been every nice for us. We stopped off at Elbow Swamp outside of Orange, Texas there was a boardwalk and we got a Gray Catbird and Swamp Sparrow. The Swamp Sparrow was quiet a lifer for us and Simon's been trying to see that bird for awhile! Plus, we saw a group of Snowy Egrets and watched them feed for a little bit. As we were about to leave there was a couple walking out on the boardwalk and saw the Snowy Egrets; which he called 'Swamp Chicken.' I just smile and say 'not exactly' and just remember that not everyone is an avid birder like my husband and I. The egrets were so beautiful and some people just don't see it and that makes me kind of sad. 
Great-tailed Grackle
Gray Catbird
 I'm kind of a big nature person now.  I blame my husband ever sence we bought our first Nikon Camera I just can't seem to get enough of it. Even find myself feeling sad when I see places where the trees have been bulldozer for some reason or another; I mean that was some birdies home. I'm such a sap!

Well getting back to our big year, the swamp boardwalk was very cool it didn't go very far. But we could also hear some Kingfishers in the distance.

Swamp Sparrow

Black-crested Titmouse
Today we went birding behind a rest area in south Texas on Interstate 10. We saw some Western Scrub-Jays, Cedar Waxwings, Spotted Towhee and Mourning Doves; all which we have already seen this year. On a good note we spotted a Black-crested Titmouse! Very pretty little birdie!

After spotting that we had to head back to the truck and get back on the road. Once we got down the road a little ways we were admiring this cute little ranch and what pops out of the trees but a pair of CRESTED CARACARA'S I was so excited! I mean I think I saw these down in Florida last winter but was unable to get a shot of them and with the white on the underside of their wings they look similar to a Black Vulture. And keep in mind that down in Florida they where high in the sky and was unable to make out if they had white necks or little black heads!

Crested Caracara
So Simon ran across the Interstate and snapped a bunch of pictures and one of the Caracara's was very patience letting him take nearly 50 pictures! The picture quality is a little poor but they have baby blue beaks and orangeish color on their face, black crest, white throat and under tail. Very beautiful bird!! Well that was the last bird to report on an exciting day of slow birding. Our number is steadily climbing and so is our life list!! 141 this year and I'd say we are doing great! As always happy birding!!!

Snowy Egret with some lunch

Friday, February 10, 2012

Black Skimmer
Yesterday we traveled down on US Highway 91 along the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico.We saw a lot of gulls mostly Laughing Gulls a couple Bontaparte's Gulls and Royal Terns. We also saw some shorebirds; Black-bellied Plover and Ruddy Turnstone. The Black Skimmers was a nice little treat right before the sunset. We also stopped off and saw some Horned Grebes and Brown Pelicans. Now our number is up to 137 and we got 3 lifers also; Horned Grebe Red-breasted Merganser, and Bontaparte's Gull! So we had a pretty good day!

Royal Tern

The Skimmers are very interesting because they can fly over the water and actually put their lower bill in the water as they skim the top of the water; it was very nice to watch them  in action!
Ruddy Turnstone
Great Blue Heron

Black-Bellied Plover
I just love taking photos of Great Blue Herons!! This one below was doing a little displaying! I hope you all enjoy my photos as much as we enjoy taking them!

Remember you can always check out my Flickr account there is a link on the right.

Happy Birding!!

Bontaparte's Gull

Laughing Gull

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Gulls and other Shorebirds!!!

We stopped off at Biloxi, Mississippi today on highway 90. Saw some great birds couple gulls, terns, a Brown Pelican and Horned Grebe. Was a nice day for a walk on the beach with temps in the sixties. The Gulf of Mexico is rather beautiful! I am still identifying some of the gulls and should have it all done by tomorrow! We took about 800 pictures today so not going to get all those looked through tonight.... unfortunately. I plan to have a full report about today's sightings up sometime tomorrow! Happy Birding!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Birding in Georgia

Northern Cardinal 
Female Northern

As you may or may not have noticed my favorite bird is the Northern Cardinal!!! What's yours?

Pine Warbler
Yesterday as we were headed to Macon, GA we stopped along the way at a Marathon gas station to bird. At first all we saw were Northern Cardinals flying around, but then we heard another call. That turned out to be a Pine Warbler. Another lifer for us! At first  it was along the fence but then it must have felt like we were to close as it flew up into the trees! Such a beautiful warbler. We have go to find more warblers if we are going to hit our goal of 400; I'm a little excited about birds today even though we didn't go birding today, but I just got done watching THE BIG YEAR!! I really love that movie! Alright so anyways, as we were taking shots of the Pine Warbler Simon thought he heard a Black-crested Titmouse; the only problem with that is we are about a thousand miles out of range. We have seen birds out of range before but this guy or gal turned out to be a Tufted Titmouse that we already got for this year. We started to make our way for the tree line behind this gas station and that's when a Northern Mockingbird flew in and landed on this pile of dead trees. He let me get pretty close and managed to get a great shot of a very common bird! I sometime wonder what these birds are thinking, I wonder if they know they are so envied by humans.
Northern Mockingbird
I mean wouldn't it be great to be able to fly anywhere you pleased and not have a care in the world. As Simon walked around the pile hoping for a thrasher of some kind, but no thrasher just some Chipping Sparrows, another for our big year!
Next we spot all kind of bird activity as we approach the tree line. There's Eastern Bluebirds, sparrows, Northern Mockingbirds, Cardinals, Pine Warblers and an another new bird Brown-headed Nuthatch! We now have all the nuthatches for this year! We are taking pictures of all this birds flying from branch to branch and really enjoying the moment when I think I spot a Red-headed Woodpecker. I try and focus in on him and I miss it. Unsure of the ID of the woodpecker we are also unable to count him in our big year. This is not the first time the Red-headed Woodpecker has slipped through our viewfinder, in Iowa we believe we saw him there and couldn't find him again. But this year is far from over and we will get him!
We watch a Pine Warbler jumping from branch to branch and then a Brown-headed Nuthatch flies in and chases the warbler away. Must have been the warblers branch! So that birding trip brings us up to 129! Tomorrow we plan on stopping along the way to Texas we will be driving through some swamp land and hoping for some new birds. I hope we have a good report of birds tomorrow for you all. Happy Birding!!

Eastern Bluebird
Brown-headed Nuthatch