Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas Count around Brattleboro

The Brattleboro Area Christmas Bird Count was held on December 19 (takes me a while to get caught up with things).

Richard Foye and I again did the Dummerston route. Our highlight was a Northern Shrike, the only one seen in the Brattleboro area this year. Great look, but took off almost as soon as the camera came out, so only so-so documentation.

Northern Shrike in Dummerston

Highlight of he entire count and within our route area was a Townsends Solitaire, a western species decidedly out of range. It was first spotted in early December by Cate Abbott at her home at the end of a remote dirt road in a remote part of Dummerston. Richard and I were unable to find her property on count day, but she saw it two days prior (just before flying off somewhere for the holidays) and in the count week, so it counts. This was the 4th record for Vermont. The remoteness of the location where it was seen suggests to me that there are probably a lot of other rarities lurking in the sparsely settled regions of Vermont that go unseen and unreported.

Townsend's Solitaire in Dummerston. Photo by Cate Abbot

Finally, after a day in the field, we all gather at Hollie Bowen's home for the compilation potluck. Most of the counters clean up pretty nicely for the evening affair .

Yours truly with Richard Foye (r)
Good Birding!

Monday, December 14, 2015

A few more from Cape Ann last week

Andrews and Hallibut point were good spots for large rafts of eiders and  Harlequin Ducks. Also saw a couple of Northern Gannets, and Red-throated Loons. Missed finding Purple Sandpipers, but a few Sanderlings were sleeping on the rocks.

Harlequin Ducks

Harlequin Dcuks and Common Eider (hen)

Rose thrips


And finally ... scene from Sandy Point on Plum Island. I had hoped for raptors and owls in the late afternoon. Had some reports, but except for a Red-tailed and harrier, they were not flying when I went by.

But I also love the bleak beauty of coastal dunes ...

Good Birding!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Cape Ann this week

Some additional images from this week's day trip to Cape Ann, Massachusetts.

Common Eider (drake)

Hedrring Gull

Common Eider (1st winter drake)

Rocky Neck

Common Loon (Adult non-breeding)
And finally ... probably my favorite photo of the day ...ds

Herring Gull
Good birding!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Courting Waterfowl - Buffleheads

Buffleheads are one of our smallest ducks. Their general appearance and demeanor suggests sweetness. Don't be deceived. When it comes to the all important task of transmitting genes, the boys are as aggressive as any in trying to impress the girls and intimidate the other boys. Often multiple boys will be trying to impress and win over one girl in what we would call in human terms as sexual harassment.

She's mine - get away!

And stay away!

Guess I told him. Aren't I something, beautiful lady!

He's back! Didn't get the message.

Get away, already!
And this final photo seems to show one guy gloating over his victory while his rival dives for safety. However, I prefer the caption, coming from the guy on the left: "Well, kiss my a**!"

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Courting Waterfowl - Red-breasted Merganser

I finally got to the Massachusetts coast for a day of birding around Cape Ann. Highlight was definitely the courting Red-breasted Mergansers and Buffleheads. (Also saw some Common Goldeneyes, but they were at a distance.) Waterfowl do their pairing on wintering grounds, for the most part, but the girls seems finicky; I have seen it throughout the winter months. Nevertheless, fun to watch.

First the Red-breasted Mergansers, who occasionally seemed paired, but don't believe it. The boys are all busy boasting their prowess.

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Nest post in a couple of days with the Bufflehead antics. Good birding.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Great Blue Herons

It is hard to know how many Great Blue Herons are hanging out at Heinz NWR, but in the course of my bike ride and walk on Sunday, I counted over 30.

Many were feeding close to the refuge road. A few images ...

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

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Great Blue Heron

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Great Blue Heron

Monday, November 16, 2015

Heinz NWR - Sunday

Sunday was a gorgeous day for a bike ride and walk at Heinz NWR in Philadelphia.

Warbler Woods at Heinz (absent the warblers)
The dabbler numbers were significantly increased from my last visit a week ago.

Northern Shoveler with Gadwalls
Northern Shoveler
Northern Shovelers
 We were having a leisurely look when they all suddenly took flight. The passing eagle quickly explained their sudden panic.

Bald Eagle

There were still a few Cabbage Whites, and sulphurs (probably Clouded Sulphurs) on the wing, and around the impoundment pixie-like Autumn Meadowhawks were flying, and occasionally pausing briefly.

Autumn Meadowhawk

Wintering gull numbers are on the increase. Gulls are not a favorite of many, but I like them. Ring-bills were unusually close to the boardwalk.

Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed Gull
Ring-billed Gull

 Several dozen Great Blue Herons were in and around the impoundment - they'll be my next post.

Good Birding!!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Brigantine (Forsyth NWR)

I did a morning trip to Brigantine on Monday. Good numbers of dabblers, otherwise fairly quiet. Even so, a few hours of meditative birding always leaves me feeling fresh and renewed. Some samples from the day:

Plenty of dabblers in the canals and ponds, including American Black Ducks and Northern Shovelers ...

Northern Shoveler (hen)

American Black Duck and Northern Shoveler (hen)

American Black Duck

Northern Shoveler (hen)
 I enjoyed watching this Herring Gull repeatedly dropping this mollusk in an effort to break it open.

Herring Gull

Herring Gull dropping the mollusk

Herring Gull


Good Birding!!


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