Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend in Massachusetts

                                                              (again, not my photo)

For memorial day weekend I went up to our beach house on the south shore of Massachusetts. I started the weekend by going to Wompatuck State Park on Saturday. There had been Acadian Flycatcher, Cerulean Warbler, and Worm-Eating Warbler reported from there. I missed on all three. Acadian Flycatcher I might have heard, but I am not sure. Cerulean and Worm-eating were total failures. Oh well. I did see 4 flycatchers (but not the one that mattered)- Pewee, Phoebe, Kingbird, Great-Crested. On the way out, we paused by a house with a hummingbird feeder, just in time to see 3-5 hummingbirds flying around and feeding. One male was even doing his u-dive display flight. 

Later that day, on the beach, I saw least and common terns, greater yellowlegs, willet, BB Plover, Killdeer, and Semi Sandpiper. One house along the beach is abandoned, and there is a huge swallow colony there. Mostly barn, but I did see one small brown swallow that I think was a bank swallow but I didn't get a long enough look to be sure. 

On Sunday, I took a brief trip to the local Audubon, Daniel Webster Nature Sanctuary. It contains on of the largest colonies of Purple Martins in the state. The highlights of the trip were hundreds of martins, a little blue heron, yellow warblers and yellowthroat, GC Flycatcher, Green Heron, Little Blue Heron, oriole, and my personal favorite, dozens of Bobolinks. They were obviously in the peak of the mating season, as all the males were noisily singing and chasing each other. Many flew right past us, and one perched ~15 away singing. Very cool and beautiful birds. They and the martins are the specialty of that sanctuary, and are very likely to see every time you go there. 

Good Birding,


Friday, May 15, 2009

Glenwood Lake (Deja Vu)

This is (obviously) not my photo. It's from

Having seen some good birds at Glenwood lake earlier this week, I headed back today to see what was there now. I ended up with some good birds, and a good diversity of migrants. 6 wood-warblers, 3 thrushes, and a tanager. The bird of the trip was a male scarlet tanager, the first one I had seen. I had heard them before, but never seen them. The thrushes were Swainson's, Wood, and Veery. The warblers- yellowthroat, yellow, redstart, magnolia, black-and-white, and canada. The redstart was the first male redstart I have seen. Other good birds included spotted sandpiper, chimney swift, and baltimore oriole. 

Here is a hint for the photo quiz, since no one is guessing. It's a type of warbler, and it was seen in may in New York.

Good Birding,


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Photo Quiz 1

You can guess what happened here. I set up the photo, but then the bird went behind a leaf. Still enough to Id it, I think. To guess, just post a comment.


Glenwood Lake

This actually is my picture. Hooray. It helps if the bird is 6 feet away.

Today I decided I would bike to Glenwood Lake, a small wooded area around a pond in the next town over, to see what birds were around. The first bird I saw was a yellowthroat. Good start. Proceeding along the trail, I found catbirds, a black-and-white warbler and a yellow-rumped warbler. Most of these were in the same approximate spot, which had more birds for some reason. I also found a Blackpoll Warbler, which was probably the best bird of the trip there. It was a life bird, sort of. It and 2 other birds on my life list were not definite sighting when I first saw them. In fact, the one time I thought I saw a Blackpoll Warbler, in Acadia last summer, it was actually probably a pine warbler. So I decided that if I didn't find those 3 by the end of the year, I would take them off the list. If I did, the previous uncertain sighting would not count. Therefore, this definite Blackpoll Warbler was a lifer. I also really wanted to see it, because I don't like taking birds off my life list. 

The birds were more scarce after that. Then I found another pocket of birds, including a Swainson's thrush, which was a lifer. It was fairly easy to ID, given how much I have heard about them having buff-colored spectacles. They were fairly obvious here.

I didn't really see any new birds after that, though I did spend about 20 minutes trying to figure out what bird was making the sound I was hearing. I never figured it out. I saw more yellowthroats, catbirds, and one more Swainson's Thrush. 

It was a good hour or so of birding, especially so close to home. I should definitely bird there again soon, if I can't go to Central Park or Prospect Park, at least. 

Good birding,


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Prothonotary Warber and Sibley Lecture

(I wish this was my photo, but it's from Remember, if I had had my camera I wouldn't have seen the bird.)

Yesterday I headed to the Greenwich Nature Center in Connecticut for a presentation by David Allen Sibley (International Migratory Bird Day). We got there early so as to get some birding in beforehand. Birds were somewhat scarce for migration, but we did find a few ovenbirds, and a pocket of thrushes. There were many wood thrushes, a few veerys, two of which stayed still very close to us for a few minutes. I found one thrush that was different, and narrowed it down to gray-cheeked or bicknell's thrush. Hermit thrush was eliminated by the lack of the reddish tail, and Swainson's by the lack of spectacles. Either Gray-Cheecked or Bicknell's would have been life birds, but it was impossible to tell without hearing it. Gray-Cheeked would be more common, but a Bicknell's could be passing through too. I would have to leave that bird unidentified.

I did not see much more until we were almost back to the center, when I saw a yellowish warbler flying away by the main lake. We relocated it and I could immediately see what it was-- a Prothonotary Warbler. It had a brilliant golden head and chest, a greenish-yellow back, blue-gray wings, and a strikingly long bill. It stayed in one spot for close study, and then flew a short distance and stayed in one place again, giving us great and lengthy views, before flying away to the other side of the lake. It was one of only two warblers we saw. 

We excitedly headed back to the reception before the presentation, and talked about the bird to the Audubon person at the center. He said that it was possible, as Prothonotary Warblers are rare but fairly regular overshoots to CT. He than asked another audubon employee who was there, and he said that the bird had indeed been seen earlier that day, which basically confirmed by identification. 

I got my Sibley Guide to Birds signed and told Mr. Sibley about the POWA too. Hmm, the first Prothonotary Warbler in over 20 years at Greenwich is on the same day Sibley was there. The birds follow him around! No wonder he's seen so many!

Oh, and the lecture was great too. 

The POWA kept my streak of at least one life bird a weekend for the past 3 weeks alive. (WAVI, RUFF, CLRA on the 26th; RBGR, BLWA, NAWA, AMRE, NOWA on the 3rd, and POWA on the 9th.)

Good Birding,


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Warbler Neck at Central Park

On Sunday I joined the Bronx River-Sound Shore Audubon's trip to Central Park in Manhattan. The weather was terrible- either raining, drizzling, or wet the whole time, but it was a good morning of birding, and I actually saw 5 life birds. The day's total for me was 58 species in 4 hours or so. The highlights included a few rose-breasted grosbeaks (a lifer), an indigo bunting, chimney swifts, rough-winged swallow, spotted sandpiper, warbling and blue-head vireos, hermit and wood thrushes, white-crowned sparrow, and eastern towhee.

The best birds were the warblers. We saw 14 species of wood-warblers, including magnolia, black-throated blue, black-throated green, parula, yellow, nashville (a lifer), ovenbird, black-and-white, redstart (lifer), northern waterthrush (another lifer) and yellowthroat

None of these, however, was the best bird of the trip. We were walking back from "the point," part of the wooded section of the park (the ramble), when another birder stopped us. " Sorry, but I just have to tell someone about this," she said, "I just saw a Blackburnian Warbler right here." We, of course, all immediately stoppped. The blackburnian is one of, if not the most beautiful warbler (Other contenders include Magnolia and Cerulean. Not having seen Cerulean, I can't comment on that, but I would say that this bird is more amazing that magnolia. Rarer too.)
Sure enough, there was an adult male blackburnian warbler right there. It was low in the trees, and we were on higher ground, so it was at about eye level and only ten feet away. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. It throat was amazingly brilliant orange, and its black back and wings with white wing panels were striking as well. It stayed in one spot for a minute, posing for pictures. Of course, this would have been a perfect time to take a great photo, if I had had my camera with me. But then, according to the universal laws of birding, we wouldn't have seen the bird. It was one of the five lifers, and it made the already good birding morning. 

If you are ever in the NYC area, central park is a great spot for birding, and you should stop there, if only briefly, especially during migration.

Good Birding, 

Friday, May 1, 2009

Ruffing It

Sorry, I couldn't resist on the title.

Last Sunday I headed over to the Marshlands Conservancy in Rye, NY for a bird walk there at 7:30. After checking the bird list and the feeders, our group headed off. Just after we got out the sweet sweet i'm so sweet song of a yellow warbler was heard, and we saw two of the brilliantly colored birds fly over. I spotted a Hermit Thrush, and our walk was off to a good start. 

Marshlands has a variety of habitats, from woods to a large open field, to the marsh that gives it its name and supports rails and other marsh birds. We headed to the field first. A flash of color in a bush caught our eye. A yellowish bird, and a black bird with a orange color on it. It perched at the top of the bush, and we could all see that it was an orchard oriole. Soon after we saw a Baltimore, which was especially early. 

More yellow warblers flitted around, and over the field there were many tree swallows, some already claiming their nest boxes. Another good bird was a blue-headed vireo that was in the open for a while giving good looks.

We got onto the topic of rarities here, and the leader mentioned that a Ruff had been reported there the previous night by an expert birder. My reaction was: "A Ruff??!! Here??!! Now??!! Where??" We the made our way to the shore to see if we could see the ruff. On the way we saw flickers, kinglets, and others. A person who had seen the bird earlier that morning pointed us in the right direction, and after seeing an upside-down black-and-white warbler on a tree limb, we reached the spot. 

We set up scopes, scanned the greater yellowlegs, and waited. And waited, and waited. One and a half hours later we left without seeing the bird. We did see both yellowlegs, killdeer, oystercatchers, a thrasher, and a warbling vireo, which was a life bird for me. 

The person working at the visitors center said that the bird might be around at 5:30 that afternoon, as that was low tide and when it had been seen the previous night. So, of course, at 5:30 I returned. 

By then half the birders in the state were there. So was the bird. We reached the spot at the water where it was being seen, and someone pointed out the bird. It was an adult male in breeding plumage, with a rusty cinnamon colored ruff and a glossy black crown and nape. A great bird, one of the rarest I have ever seen. There was a clapper rail calling, and at one point I got a glimpse of it, just as a dark shape moving through the marsh. I don't have any Ruff photos, but you can see another persons photo here.

Good Birding


Hello to anyone who happens to be reading this blog (though as of now that number is zero).  I am an avid birder from Westchester County, NY. This blog will cover my birding adventures and experiences.  

My life list is currently at 239 species, with some of my best birds being Barnacle Goose, Painted Bunting, and Ruff.

My next post will be very soon. (Probably in the next 10 minutes as I already have my topic)

Good Birding,