Friday, March 30, 2012

Blackwater NWR

Before we went to Assateague we stopped off at Blackwater NWR and spotted a pair of Bald Eagles. It seems like one of the eagles in the first picture wanted to lock talons and free fall mating, but unfortunately the other wasn't ready. I hope I have the chance to see that someday.

Happy Birding!!

Timing and Location are Everything

While Simon and I where in Maryland we hear about a rare sighting of Le Conte's  Sparrow to the northwest of Baltimore. So, we grabbed the cameras hopped in the car and headed for Irvine Nature Center in Owings Mills. Once there we talked a helpful attendant who was able to point us in the right direction where she said a small crowd had gathered in hopes of seeing the sparrow. We got a little more excited about our prospects of seeing the Le Conte's for the first time. 
Le Conte's Sparrow
We walked briskly through the woods behind the center's main building, and it was a short stroll along side a small open field where we saw several Savannah Sparrows and Tree Swallows. We could see the marshy area where the Le Conte's had been spotted for the last several days, and a small group of seven or eight people had gathered there. As we made our way toward all but three people departed and back toward the woods. Just a couple of minutes later, as we neared the marsh, we heard one of the birders say, "There it is!" And sure enough there it was perched in the fork of a small sapling at the edge of the marsh. 
The sparrow perched there a little while then moved quickly to several other strands of grass near the ground. Then as quick as it came it quickly flew away from the marsh and over the field and out of sight. The people who had left just before we arrived left two minutes early, and anyone who came after was too late. We were in the right place at the right time. Location and timing are sometimes everything.
Tree Swallow
Pair of Savannah Sparrows

Assateague Island National Seashore

On March 21st and 22nd we arrived at Assateague and within fifteen minutes we saw some wild horses! It was pretty foggy and overcast the next day but we got out and saw some Common Loons, Fish Crows, Boat-tailed Grackle, Little Blue Heron, Sanderlings, and Northern Gannet.

The Northern Gannet was quiet a nice surprise! We had walked down to the beach; always with our cameras in hand, and caught sight of something different flying out over the ocean. At first I thought it was an Albatross but we got back to our camp site and I quickly went to work on looking our bird up. It certainly wasn't an Albatross but a Northern Gannet was just as good! Our first Pelagic bird without the cost of a Pelagic tour!!

Northern Gannet
Boat-tailed Grackle
There was lots of Boat-tailed Grackles and Fish Crows around the camping area. We went out on the kayak and got one along the shoreline. Then we headed for a few of there nature walks and there we spotted some Yellow-rumped Warblers and Great Black-backed Gulls.

While at our camp site a couple horses came strolling through.

Common Loon

Great Black-backed Gull


We only got 6 new year birds there but had a very good time camping in the tent. That added fifty-five dollars for camping and another fifty dollars for gas to our Big Year cost.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Soon I will be back in the semi and have more time to get through this pictures! We got around 15- 20 more birds while on the east coast. More updates to come.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Whittier Narrows in California

 As we were headed out of Los Angeles area we saw a park with a bunch of ducks and geese walking around; so we decided to stop. The first thing we came across was some domestic geese and a lot of coots. We saw one that had leucism (pictured below).
American Coot

We made our way around and over the bridge and saw a pair of House Finches. We also saw a Downy Woodpecker and some Yellow-rumped Warblers; I'm starting to thing some of these birds are following us around.

House Finch

We made our way around the lake seeing mostly birds we had already seen like Great Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Double-crested Cormorants, Mallards, Black Phoebe, Rock Pigeons, and Red-shouldered Hawks.

Rock Pigeons

Red-shouldered Hawk


Then I saw this little guy hanging upside down and have identified him as a Bushtit. There was actually a couple of them in the tree but we managed to get a good picture of one of them. For two hours of walking around a lake all we spotted was one lifer; the Bushtit. He's number 179. 

We continued through the park and came across this cute squirrel and a gopher. 

Happy Birding!!!

Rio Grande Nature Center

We found the Rio Grande Nature Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, about a month ago online; so on the 11th we went there. They charge five dollars and on their website they said they had Wood Ducks. They were our target bird for the day. The first bird we saw was a pair of Greater Roadrunners. They were very used to people and we were about five feet from them! Which is almost impossible out in the wild.

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

Song Sparrow
Then we went to a pond and saw some turtles, some Mallards, some Ring-billed Ducks. They also had a bird feeder next to the pond and the Mallards were taking advantage of the seeds that had fallen on the ground. We spotted a Song Sparrow and Spotted Towhee at the feeder. If anyone has any ideas as to what turtles they are I'd love to hear it.

We didn't see any Wood Ducks so we made our way to the path, we had two hours and decided to go down both paths. The first bird we came to was a Downy Woodpecker. Then we saw some little birds hopping around in a low tree and of course, they turned out to be Dark-eyed Juncos.

Continuing down the path we came across this sweet elderly woman and she stopped and told us about a pair of woodpeckers she saw and she also described a bluebird. We walked a little further and guess what we saw....a pair of woodpeckers! Not sure which one since they both flew off. Then I spotted the Eastern Bluebird, the picture turned out okay but the background is a little blinding.
Eastern Bluebird

We went a little further got down to the river and saw....nothing. A little disappointing but we headed back and spotted the Northern Flicker up in the tree.
Northern Flicker

We saw a little bird on the ground but didn't get a good picture at it and was unable to identify it. It went up in some brush and couldn't find it again. That's always a little of a bummer when that happens.

We had made it back to the vistor center and looked through the bird blind to the pond and there they were a male and female WOOD DUCKS!  Simon has wanted to see some in the wild for a long time and now he has! They have a very pretty facial pattern and we got some good pictures too. They were number 178! Slowly we are making it!!

Wood Ducks

As we were making our way back to the parking lot we spotted a Ring-necked Pheasant feeding on the ground by the bird feeders. We also seen some House Finches and a White-breasted Nuthatch. We wanted to see the Roadrunners again so we headed over to the first pond where we first saw them but they were no where in sight. There was two couples looking through a scope and let us look through at four Sandhill Cranes. One was a juvenile and the other three were adults.

White-breasted Nuthatch
Sandhill Cranes

Rio Grande Nature Center wasn't filled with new birds but it was a good spot and we plan to go back since we get through the area often. We only got one new bird; Wood Duck, but all in all it was better than getting no birds!
Happy Birding!!

PS~ I've got two more birding adventures to blog about hopefully they will be posted today! One in CA and another in OK!

Vermilion Flycatchers!

Let's see here....I'm a little behind in my blog :( so let's get caught up! After leaving Gilbert, AZ  we were heading to Las Vegas and stopped off at a rest area near Wickenburg, were we usually see birds. We went there for the Vermilion Flycatcher and we got it!! At first we walked down by the little stream; were we have spotted sparrows, flycatchers, and lizards! But this time nothing near the pond so we went back up near the restrooms and spotted the Vermilion Flycatcher, male and female!

Vermilion Flycatcher~Male

Vermilion Flycatcher~Female

The flycatcher makes our number up to 177!
Happy Birding!!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

On the 8th we started birding early; at 730am, at Riparain Institute in Gilbert, AZ. As soon as we got out of our truck we heard birds chirping. We started to make our way to the boardwalk and saw Curve-billed Thrasher, Northern Mockingbird, and Gila Woodpecker.  We got to the floating boardwalk and you could tell the Ring-necked Ducks and Mallards are used to getting feed by people. We were within feet of these ducks. As we moved on we saw some House Finches, more Mallards, and an Abert's Towhee poking at the ground forging for food. There was a half dry pond with a Neotropic Cormorant and Great Egret. So we had only been there like 30 minutes and already three lifers/big year birds! Those three are the Gila Woodpecker, Neotropic Cormorant and the Abert's Towhee.
Then we walked over to the cactus plants behind the north restrooms and there we saw Starlings and Lesser Goldfinch. Then after taking some nature shots of the cactus we headed down a path. We saw hummingbirds at the Botanical Garden; Anna's and Black-chinned Hummingbird; BCH is a big year bird! Then we almost stepped on a pair of Inca Doves! This little bird is kinda cute and a lifer for us! We were doing really well, plus seeing some other birds that we see all the time.
We went to pond #5 and saw a wide variety of ducks, a few shorebird, and some wading birds. We saw Great Blue Herons, Northern Shovelers, Least Sandpiper, American Avocets, and Long-billed Dowitchers. We also caught a glimpse of a Black-crowned Night Heron and on the way out we saw a Common Gallinule. All in all it was a great day of birding we left there at 3pm and had over 1000 picture!!
Tomorrow we plan to bird in Albuquerque, NM at Rio Grand Nature Center for a few hours; hoping to get a Wood Duck!
I'm trying something a little different today with a slideshow and let me know how you like it!!
We are now up to 177 birds this year and hope to make 200 by the end of the month! Wish us luck!!
Happy Birding!!!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Female House Finch

Been a little while since I've been able to post anything, but I got two days of birding in Arizona. The first was on the 7th on Interstate 10 at two  rest area. The first rest area we didn't think we would get anything because of the 40mph wind. We walked along the fence line and all of a sudden a Lark Bunting flew out of some shrubs and landed on the ground about 10 feet away from us. We got a couple of pictures and then it flew away. The only other bird that we saw there was a House Finch and House Sparrow.
Male House Finch

This rest area had a big hill covered with rock formations behind a fence. So we found a spot in the fence that people go through and paint their names on the rocks. So we started walking along the canyon and right away we see black-chinned Sparrows and Vesper Sparrows on the brushes.

Vesper Sparrow
We walked a little further saw some Black-throated Sparrows, Spotted Towhees, Chipping Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, and Canyon Towhee. Five of those birds being new bird for the year. That was a good day for us and we had an even better day of birding on the 8th! I will be doing a post about the 8th either tonight or tomorrow. Hope you are enjoying our birding trips!!
Happy Birding!!

Black-throated Sparrow

Canyon Towhee

Monday, March 5, 2012

Arkansas Birding!

Tufted Titmouse
Northern Mockngbird
Simon and I stopped at a rest area on Interstate 40 in Arkansas today and decided to go birding; glad we did. We saw a lot of birds, probably twelve different species, adding three to our year list. We saw a lot of Robins on the round and flying around from tree to tree. We walking through the rest area and saw some White-throated Sparrows, Tufted Nuthatch, Dark-eyed Juncos, Blue Jays, and Northern Mockingbird.
American Robin

Then we walked along the fence line and saw a male Red-bellied Woodpecker up in a tree pecking away and then he puffed himself up and I actually got a picture of him doing it! That is only a matter of luck. Then we went into some wood and saw Mourning Doves a little further down the pathway we saw a bright red male Northern Cardinal and then the female flew by. As Simon caught sight of a Eastern Towhee I saw a female Red-bellied Woodpecker. The way to tell the two sexes apart is the amount of red on the crown of the head. Males have it from their beak to the back of their necks, while the females only have a spot above their beak and then their crown is gray and the back of their head//neck is red.
Male Red-bellied Woodpecker

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker

Eastern Towhee

 Getting back to Simon's Towhee sighting. He was following it from tree to tree trying to get a good picture and then i came over and we both followed him into some thicker woods but got a picture of him. It's a Lifer for us as well as year bird. 

We then saw a woodpecker high up in a tree and it was also a new lifer bird and of course a year bird for us! My pictures of this bird were terrible; but that's what happens when you think the woodpecker is just a Downy! Simon's pictures turned out well enough for us to identify the bird! 

We walked a little further and found a pond which had a log with some turtles on it; they jumped into the water before I could get a picture. That was about the time we heard the kingfisher, so we decided to walk over to the pond and hope to get a view of him/her. We waited a while but never saw any birds near the pond. But saw a lovely Dogwood Tree! 

On our way back we spotted another Northern Mockingbird and then saw a Carolina Wren! Yup, you guessed it another lifer and year bird for us! Wow, three lifers and big year birds today! What a great day for birding!

Happy Birding!!

Horrible picture of a Carolina Wren

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Brown African Goose
The other day we were driving through upstate New York. We caught sight of some domestic geese. They are Toulouse Goose and a Brown African Goose, very cute geese.
Toulouse and Brown African Geese

Then a little bit down the road we came across more domestic geese and some Mallards.

The white goose reminds me of the Aflac Duck!

Interesting Looking Mix

 Here is a mix of Canada Geese and domestic geese. A couple of them look to be mixed with Canada Geese.
Then there were some Mallards with a total of three females to the seven males; I'm thinking these are wild Mallards. 

Happy Birding!