Tuesday, May 29, 2012

~~Southeast Arizona~~

We have been broke down in Phoenix, AZ, so we decided to rent a car and head to southeast Arizona! Updates to follow! We got 30 plus birds while we were down here!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Few More Birds From Here and There

Great Crested Flycatcher

A few days ago we were up in MN and we decided to stopp at a few rest areas to bird but the first two we came up empty handed, until the last rest area. We walked all the way around not seeing anything new for us and walked by the fenced in Indian Mounds and through the chain linked fence caught sight of a Great Crested Flycatcher! #283 Wow i really like the way our number is climbing!

Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
The next day in Tomah, WI we stopped at the Walmart and there happens to be four ponds there and water in the ditch that goes between two of them next to the back of the store. We have been here before and saw Mallards, Blue-winged Teals, Great Blue Herons, Spotted Sandpiper, Canada Geese, and some others that I can't think of right now, but the other day we got a lifer there! I love when we get a lifer and we are not even trying to get one. The Western Sandpiper decided to make an appearance and what a great looking bird. We also saw Canada Geese with their young (6 or 7 chicks), Pectoral Sandpiper, Mallards, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, and Least Sandpiper. All birds we already gotten, but I thought I'd share a photo of the Least Sandpiper.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Next we traveled through IA toward Texas and stopped off at a rest area that had a nice little pathway back to the river. On the path we heard a loud bird singing in the tree ahead of us. We spotted it and another lifer for us! The bird I've been wanting to get for a while; Rose-breasted Grosbeak! The photos didn't turn out as well as I would have liked but that always seems to happen when we first take a picture of a new bird. The trail started through the woods was began to go downhill and when trucking you are always on a schedule and since I have asthma; we knew it would take longer to climb back up this hill then we had to spare. So unfortunately we had to turn back. But we will have to go back there someday.

Philadelphia Vireo

The last bird we got at a rest area in IA as we stopped at a rest area so Simon could smoke a cigarette; and we 'power bird' together. Power birding is just what you might think; kind of like power walking only with a camera and birds. We spotted this Philadelphia Vireo up in a tree singing away! So that vireo took up all our time but was worth it since it was another lifer! #286.

Happy Birding!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Elmwood Park

Before we went to Fargo Sewage Lagoons we stopped off at Elmwood Park in Fargo for a few hours. The lighting was no good as it was cloudy and getting dark but we spotted 2 new birds that night and went back the next morning for a few more new birds. The pathway was right along the river and the bank was covered in trees.

Swainson's Thrush

This Swainson's Thrush actually perched for a little bit before flying away. We actually spotted the Swainson's Thrush at a rest area in North Dakota We also saw some Warbling Vireo, Black-capped Chickadee, and a pair of American Redstarts. I had never thought they were such small birds, but they have a very distinctive markings. Another bird!

Female American Redstart

Next, we saw the Nashville Warbler, which is a new year bird! There was a great deal of bird activity but since the birds were in the shade my camera wouldn't take pictures due to the low light and I can't use the flash with my long lens. So, Simon put his camera on auto to use the flash, which results in poor photo quality.

Nashville Warbler

Here's a very nice Chestnut-sided Warbler that turned out very nice.

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Female Blackpoll Warbler
We then decided we would go to the Sewage Lagoons(previous blog) and come back to the park in the morning. Sure glad we got our butts out of bed and went to the park; we added seven more.

Tennessee Warbler
There was a little watering hole that the birds seemed to be hanging out in. Basically just a little puddle of water in the shore of the river with a few dead trees on the ground. Thats where we saw the female Blackpoll Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Tennessee Warbler and the Willow Flycatcher all taking turns getting their bath.

Willow Flycatcher

Blackburnian Warbler

There had been reports of a Cape May Warbler on eBird, but we saw the Blackburnian Warbler instead. What a beautifully bright little bird!

Magnolia Warbler

After that we spotted the Magnolia Warbler but didn't get that great of a photo.

Northern Waterthrush

On our way back to the car we stopped off at the watering hole and spotted the Northern Waterthrush and the Red-eyed Vireo. 

Red-eyed Vireo
Happy Birding!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fargo Sewage Lagoons

On the 19th of May we had an extra day to do some birding in Fargo and decided to check out some areas around Fargo. We found Fargo Sewage Lagoons; there had been some eBird reports of Wilson's Phalarope, so we thought we'd check it out.

When we found it and climbed over the fence we spotted almost nothing expect some Common Grackles, Tree Swallows, and Killdeer. At this water treatment area there are six ponds, in the first set of ponds there was some Canvasback, Scaups, and Eared Grebe!That's a new year bird; #268. But the third and forth ponds had American Coots and Mallards in them, Killdeer and Black-bellied Plovers walking on the pathway. Then a pair of Trumpeter Swans flew overhead! Lifer! #269
Black-bellied Plover
Trumpeter Swans

Black Tern

Next we spotted some Black Terns flying over the ponds, probably eating bugs; yummy! #270

Wilson's Phalarope

We finally spotted the Wilson's Phalarope! There was at least 40 if not more of them! They didn't let us get too close either. #271


Then a group of Dunlins flew in with there fresh breeding plumage. 

Semipalmated Sandpiper

We also spotted some Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper, and Semipalmated Sandpiper. New bird! #272

Baird's Sandpiper
#273 for our big year is a Baird's Sandpiper! 

Happy Birding!!

~Montana Birding~

Cassin's Finch
As we were on our way to Minnesota we planned to make a few birding stops at some rest areas; the first was at mile marker #71 and the second was on Elk Park Pass 6368 ft. The one at MM #71 we have nicknamed it Big Rock for obvious reasons; there's a huge rock along side the Clark Fork River. On the 18th of May; yes I'm five days behind in my blog updates, was the first time we had stopped there and look forward to going back.

Once we got to Big Rock Rest Area we noticed that the Clark Fork River was much higher than it was before and we couldn't walk along the way the bank of the river; since the water was all the way up to the thick treeline. So, we headed for the dirt path to the other way down to the river. Hoping for something new but this rest area only gave us one new bird this time; unlike last time which was very productive. As we were heading for the truck we heard something up in a pine tree and after about five minutes to locate the bird it was a female Cassin's finch.

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Audubon's Group
After we left there we decided we had enough time to fit in an hour birding trip through the woods behind the rest area on top of Elk Park Pass. What a beautiful sight; it's so nice to be able to walk into the mountains and not really caring about anything and getting away from the truck! Well that is until you see signs of Mountain Lions.

We spotted a lovely Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler flying out and catching flies. Then we saw a few Chipping Sparrows hoping they were something new but no luck.

Chipping Sparrow
Red-naped Sapsucker

Next, Simon spotted a pair of Red-naped Sapsuckers. Very nice looking male on the right.

We were very excited to see the Mountain Bluebird again this year. Males and Females flying all over the trees, what a sight. Might be my favorite bluebird!

Mountain Bluebird

 Happy Birding!!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Update Coming Soon

Got a lot of new birds of the year and am almost done going through pictures and will soon be blogging!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Eastern Washington

Bullock's Oriole
Bullock's Oriole
We were in Eastern Washington when we decided to do some birding. We walked down this little pathway that lead to a grass field; that had a fence around it. So, we walked along the fence lined with tall cottonwoods. We could hear birds singing and then Simon finally spotted a Bullock's Oriole and then its pair joined in. 

#263! One bird at a time, but we are having fun with our big year! Below are some other birds we saw and got good pictures of. 

American Goldfinch

As we walked on we came could see the river on the other side of the fence and then we spotted a American Goldfinch in a short tree. Very cute little bird! 

Song Sparrow

A Song Sparrow jumped up on some reeds and we were hoping for a wren, but no luck! 

Spotted Sandpiper

Across the river we spotted this lovely Spotted Sandpiper; which is becoming one of my favorite shorebirds in their breeding plumage.

Red-tailed Hawk (Rufous Morph)

This guy was calling out for its mate for a good ten minutes before he flew away. The picture would have been perfect if I would have had my camera set right. The story of my life! I really must work on paying attention to how my camera is set. 

Happy Birding!! :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Gray Partridge

Add caption
As my husband was walking our dogs this morning he thought he heard some quail or grouse. He spotted them and pointed them out to me and as I was still waking up; it was 6:30am,  I finished with the coffee and he went and got the pictures! #262! A pair Gray Partridges behind the truck parking! Always a good way to start the morning off too!

Happy Birding!!!

Male and Female

~Three Rest Areas and Two New Species~

Lark Sparrow

Yesterday we were finally able to get out and do some birding!! It feels like a month since we've been birding, but I think a week is more correct. We were driving through Montana on Interstate 94 and we stopped off at three different rest areas! 

The first one brought nothing new, just got some better photos of a few sparrows. The Lark Sparrow and Clay-colored Sparrow.

Clay-colored Sparrow 
We also saw some American Robins, Common Grackles, and Mourning Doves. We decided to move on to the next rest area since we weren't seeing anything new.

At this rest area the Yellowstone River runs along side it, but with on exception the rest area is up really high on this mountain and the stream is below the steep hillside. Almost every time we are there we end up scaling the hillside; only bad thing is climbing back up.

First thing we saw there was a pair of Brown Thrashers flying from tree to tree. Then we were walking along the edge of the hillside and listening for birds when we heard a songbird. We went down the hill and first we saw a Lark Sparrow and then we spotted the songbird. A Yellow Warbler was singing his heart out. So, we waited patiently for the warbler to show himself and finally he did! Just in time too; our alarm went off letting us know it was time to get back on the road! One new bird is not bad at all! #260.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Barn Swallow
The last rest area we stopped at for the day was next to a cow pasture with a little stream running through it. Not the most elegant place to go birding but there was birds there! We saw Mallards on the stream, Downy Woodpecker in the tree, Barn Swallows on the telephone wire, American Goldfinch pair hopping from branch to branch, Red Crossbill family in the trees, and House Wren perched on a branch. The House Wren was #261 a nice addition to our big year list! As we walked the tree line we saw bird after bird and could have spent hours there; as there was evergreens and mountains farther back and birds singing from afar.
Red Crossbill

House Wren

Happy Birding!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Five Birding Outings and Four New Additions

On our way to VA from Texas, we made a few stops along the way and got a few new birds. The first place was a shut down rest area in Texas. We couldn't get into the parking lot since it was shut down and the road was blocked off but we parked in front of the road block and walked in! At first we didn't see or hear anything, but then we got farther away from the Interstate and started to hear some songbirds. There was a gate on the far side of this abandoned Texan rest area, so we decided to jump the gate and walk along the country dirt road. We were hearing lots of birds in the trees and were about to walk through the trees when we catch sight of the dreaded "No Trespassing" sign...dang it!! We kept walking on the road and then I noticed a raptor flying overhead and it turned out to be a Mississippi Kite! New bird for the year! The only other bird down that road was a few female Brown-headed Cowbird. We started down the other way and saw some Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Northern Mockingbirds, Northern Cardinals, Eastern Bluebirds and a few Turkey Vultures. Nothing new but that kite. One bird at a time.

The next bird sighting was a Dickcissal. Simon snapped a few pictures of it at a truck stop in Arkansas.

Eastern Kingbird

The third spot was in Arkansas at a rest area that I've blogged about before, the one with the Purple Martin boxes. We were just gonna stop for a few moments and just watch the martins, but then Simon thought he should try and use the video on the camera so we took our dogs back to the truck and got the cameras. Good thing we did because we got a new bird there! Eastern Kingbird! We also saw some House Sparrows and of course the Purple Martins. It seems like we are getting in the habit of only getting one bird per trip.

Purple Martins

House Sparrow with nesting material

Then forth stop was the nice rest area in Tennessee. We've been to this one quiet a bit lately. I'll let the photos tell the story since we didn't see anything new just one new butterfly.

Indigo Bunting
Drab Female Indigo Bunting

 The colorful Male Indigo Bunting perched high on a snag. While the drab female had very little color.

Orchard Oriole

Next we caught sight of the adult male Orchard Oriole. They don't like to stay in one spot very long.

Hackberry Emperor

Then we came across this butterfly that kept insisting on landing on Simon's head. Then he landed on his hand and it looked like he was trying to get nectar off his hand; which there was not any. Strange butterfly!

Field Sparrow

The noisy Field Sparrow was singing and singing! Not the best picture though.

Then we saw a male Pipevine Swallowtail and saw a larva (or Caterpillar) also that hadn't became a butterfly yet.

The fifth spot and final of our trip to VA saw Warriors Path State Park. We started down the path way which was about half a mile. All we heard in this one park was Cicadas. They are very load and actually very pretty. We only saw a Downy Woodpecker on the trail. Whenever we hear Cicadas we never see birds. Not sure why but maybe the birds don't get along with them. After the trail we headed up by the pool to see if we could see anything. We did! Finally some bird activity, but once again all but one were new. We saw so many Cedar Waxwings flying from tree to tree.

Cedar Waxwings

Hoping for some warblers; no luck. We also saw some Baltimore Orioles, Blue Jays, and finally we saw the Brown Thrasher! New bird #259!

Brown Thrasher

Baltimore Oriole

 Happy Birding!!!