Saturday, November 28, 2009

Looking Foward to Costa Rica

This February, I am going with my family for ~10 days to Costa Rica. As many birders know, Costa Rica is a birding paradise. And though, unfortunately, the primary focus of the trip is not birding, I have been able to work a few stops into the itinerary and am hoping for some great birds. Some stops at Savegre Mountain Lodge, Carara NP, and Monteverde Cloud Forest should get me good numbers and great sightings.

To assist in id'ing the many (850+) bird species that live in costa rica, I purchased the field guide shown above, and have been reading it almost constantly since I got it.

The birds of costa rica include dazzling tanagers (speckled, emerald, red-legged and green honeycreepers), awesome hummingbirds (violet sabrewing, black-crested coquette, fiery-throated hummingbird), bizzare or unique species (sunbittern, three-wattled bellbird, bare-necked umbrellabird) and some of the most beautiful birds in the world (lovely cotinga, quetzal, scarlet macaw), as well as the usual tropical contingent of manakins, parrots, motmots, euphonias, and toucans.

Jealous Yet?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sign of Winter

I just put up my bird feeders again this week and already have a couple juncos. Juncos, which spend the cold months of winter here but summer in Canada, are a sure sign of winter.

The winter finch forecast doesn't look great, but winter birding is still really fun. Cold, but fun.

Below- My feeder setup. See the juncos?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Comments Welcome

By now my hits counter has reached 160, so at least some people have to be looking at this blog. I even have huge numbers (1) of followers.

Anyway, there have only been 4 comments ever posted on this blog. Of those 4, 3 of them were me. I am looking for input on the blog, etc.

So, feel free to comment on any posts or anything about this blog.

Just to start off with a couple (hopefully) comment-getting questions:

What is your favorite bird? (A simple question to start off) Mine are Northern Gannets, though if I see a sunbittern this February in costa rica it will jump to the top.

I am going to Costa Rica in February. Has anyone ever been? Any recommended spots?

Who uses a spotting scope? What is the price range? Any recommendations?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Greenwich Cranes

(from Wikipedia)

I headed over to Greenwich Hawkwatch to try for a golden eagle today. I failed, but saw some better birds, as well as the usual hawks.

Raptor Highlights: A few harriers (my favorite raptors), lots of red-shoulders, a kestrel, bald eagle, many coopers hawks and sharp-shinned hawks.

Also, a few migrating common loons were interesting. A skein of Canada geese numbering almost 190 birds flew over as well.

The best birds were two large birds that one of the hawkwatchers picked up over the nature center. There had been 5 sandhill cranes flying over earlier in the week, so he quickly realized that that was what they were. We all watched them fly by for a couple minutes, before disappearing.

Cranes are very unusual on the east coast north of Florida, so to have 7 in one week at one spot it remarkable. These 2 brought the year total for greenwich to 9, possibly a record. Very cool to see them there.

One last thing- did you notice how I titled this post. "Today...". Not "In August...", or "Last year...", but today. That means that I am finally caught up on my blog posts. YES!!!

Eamon Corbett

Edit: I also had a pileated woodpecker flyby- my first outside of Florida.

Shorebirding at Jamaica Bay

Over most of August, I had been planning to go to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, in NYC. The east pond there is one of the best spots to see migrating shorebird in the northeast. Rarities are expected every year. The shorebird section of my life list was a bit thin, so I figured that I could get 4-6 lifers in one trip.

Unfortunately, actually getting that one trip was tricky. I opted out of a NYS young birders' club trip there in favor of a weekend at the beach. A missed text message would have given me another opportunity. August ended without a JBWR trip. Still, I wanted to go. So finally, on September 13 (2 months ago by now), I got there. I'm glad I did.
The first stop was halfway up the east pond. There, I saw Parulas, yellowlegs, shovelers, and teal. On the way back, I found a northern waterthrush, peregrine falcon, and palm warblers.

A drive and then walk, which was somewhat lengthened by a wrong turn, brought me to the northern shore of the east pond. There, I saw why everyone I talked to said to bring boots. I was glad I had listened to them. The mud there is deep, sticky, and muddy.

One of my target birds was the pair of american avocets, which are unusual on the east coast but had been seen there recently. They were a few steps down from the start of the trail in the middle of the "pond"(really a area of wet mud), in a group of canada geese. Awesome. Lifer #1.

I continued down along the pond, spotting lesser yellowlegs and least sandpipers, and navigating the trecherous cove, the muddiest part of the trail. Soon after that, I found a pair of birds that I realized were stilt sandpipers, another target and lifer #2. A single little blue heron was also present, along with some forster's terns.

I reached another birder with a scope, and he helpfully pointed out my life pectoral sandpiper. A red knot in the same flock of birds was also a lifer. I missed the long-billed dowitcher that was in the same flock when a merlin spooked all the birds. After a couple more minutes, I had to leave. It had been just 30 minutes that I was on the east pond, and I saw 4 life birds. This really shows how great Jamaica Bay is for shorebirds.

And maybe next year i'll go in August.

Eamon Corbett