Sunday, January 29, 2012

Local Day in Cincy

Beaver was here

I have been sick for a week and Liam has been busy at school but we finally managed to get out and do a bit of local birding in the Cincinnati area. It was a chilly and very windy day and we didn't get out until early afternoon so the birds all seemed to be hunkered down for a siesta. A few BJ's fought the winds up high and we found a couple clusters of ducks on the water.

At the Kilby Rd Gravel pits there had been reported a Common Merganser or 2 so we went to check it out. 3 miles of hiking gave us a bunch of Ring-necked Ducks & Redheads, 1 American Wigeon, a couple of coots and grebes to include a new list bird Horned Grebe. It was a lame distant look and we know we will see them in full regalia in North Dakota later this year but at least we got to put something new on the list. We also stopped by the Miami Whitewater Forest wetlands and found 7 earlier reported Tundra Swans still present for our last new lister for the day.

We will be heading up to Sax-Zim Bog near Duluth, MN in February. We won't be able to officially take part in the birding festival but hope to be up there while it is going on and there is an influx of birders. As far as I can tell it is a real place and not just a made up Dr. Seuss place as I first suspected so visions of Great Grey and Hawk Owls are keeping me up at night! It would be cool to see some Sneetches though!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Oregon trip pics!

10 more min. of deicing and off to Portland!

What the ?! Not what we expected.

Cool GP7 Diesel Engine in Tillamook

Gigantic honkin' Seaweed cable monstrosity - I am 6'2" 300lbs

The cable like end of this was easy 40ft and the seaweedy top was

8 - 10ft!

Western subspecies of Fox Sparrow I presume

Steller's Jay silhouette

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Ambitious Glaucaus-winged Gull 2 ft from the car window
He rode on the hood of the car while we backed away too

Varied Thrush

Western Gull and Glaucaus-winged Gull

Oregon Coast in January

Liam exploring the Oregon Coast!

Mossy Orchard - Woodburn, OR

Bridge in Newport, OR

Historic Bayfront in Newport, OR

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Beardiest City in America.

Liam and I were birding last Sunday in Indiana to see some local winter birds and catch a crazy hummingbird stuck there for the winter.(2 posts ago). While we were birding Michele texted us and told us Emperor Goose and Brambling were close to each other and the flights to Portland look good tonight AND you can get a car for $12.50! We said o.k. (hell yes!) and hurried home with just enough time to get to the airport. It is exciting to decide to go to Oregon and be on a plane a couple of hours later!
Yes, beardiest, not birdiest. I read that Portland was the self proclaimed Beardiest City in America. During our "Big Year" I would like to have read "birdiest" but having a big lumberjack beard like I do I was happy to fit in! We had to fly through Salt Lake City to get to Portland and we couldn't get on the evening flight to Portland from Salt Lake but had an early flight to Portland in the morning. We got into Portland at 10am got our car and started driving to Tualitan River NWR to try and see Emperor Goose. The NWR is south of Portland and North of Woodburn where a Brambling was being seen at a backyard feeder. When we got there it was pretty damn cold and there were no other birders around which was not a good sign. Without a scope the bird could be there and we still may not be able to find it. Just after we started walking towards the water another couple started walking our way with binocs and a scope and we were relieved to have some more eyes to search. The first treat was seeing a pair of Eurasian Wigeon fly in almost right away. It took about 10 minutes to get Liam on it and to see the identifiers but he got it eventually. We also got Bufflehead and Cackling Goose.
A few minutes later the man with the scope said he had a different goose in his scope and that he thought it was the Emperor Goose. Through the binoculars there was a goose with different coloration in with a group of Canada Goose in the distance. Through the scope a sleeping silver gray goose with a tucked white head. I was certain it was the bird but couldn't write it on the list until we got a better look. Thankfully after another 10min that seemed like an hour he got up and walked around a bit giving us a fantastic look for confident identification. We had gotten off the the plane at 10am and had Emperor Goose by 11:45am! We were freezing so we hurried to the car to head on in hopes of seeing the Brambling.
I think we got to the backyard with the Brambling at about 1:15pm. It was biting cold and ungloved hands quickly hurt and had to be pocketed. One person, an ebird reviewer was there with us and the Brambling had been seen earlier the same day so when Liam asked how long we were going to wait I said "until the Brambling shows up". The first striking thing about the backyard in Oregon that we didn't expect especially with the snow covered ground and freezing cold was Anna's Hummingbirds zipping around all over the place! There was so many of them it was almost like being in SE Arizona!

Anna's Hummingbird - Woodburn, OR

The Woodburn backyard was a mini goldmine getting us Anna's Hummingbird, Pine Sisken,Black-capped Chickadee, Bushtit, Golden-crowned Sparrow and Red-breasted Nuthatch. At 2:05pm the eBird reviewer who was with us said "there it is!" Sure enough the Brambling was on the ground under the corner feeder. It was a beautiful bird with lots of color and stayed long enough for a good look and a picture and then was gone. Wish I had a bigger lens but I did manage to get an identifying picture

Brambling - Woodburn, OR

Monday, January 16, 2012

Emperor Goose!

We got off the plane, got our car, drove straight to Tualatin River, NWR in Oregon and promptly viewed an EMPEROR GOOSE!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

McAllen, TX at 10th & Violet

This is a video of Green Parakeet staging at 10th & Violet in McAllen, TX. I think you have to be there to fully appreciate the ruckus these guys make when they take to the air!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Some birds from our neck of the woods!

We live in the Midwest I guess?! I never quite understood what that meant...seems more Mideast to me. We live in the Cincinnati, OH area to be more specific. We have quite a few nice birds in winter and during Spring migration we have excellent warbler action. I had to make a business trip to Columbus, IN so made a stop at Muscatatuck NWR which is about 30min south of there. Got some great Winter feeder birds! Here are a few of them! Eastern Towhee

Carolina Chickadee

Purple Finch

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Fox Sparrow

Mourning Dove

Downy Woodpecker(left) & Hairy Woodpecker(right)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Long-eared Owl

Just got some help finding a Long-eared Owl in Warren, Co. Ohio. A huge thanks to Les Houser!! Liam loved the orange in this owl! The picture isn't so great as it is at distance and heavily cropped but see how the owl is sitting squat and fat and droopy eyed indicating he is relaxed. This is the most his eyes opened the whole time we were there. His eyes were closed completely in all other pics. If you are watching owls remember they are sleeping during the day and working at night. If an owl is awake and standing up tall and looking at you with giant saucer eyes you have spooked it and should back away, otherwise you run the risk of flushing it; ruining his day and the chance for others to enjoy. Imagine if you were camping at a campsite and some of the other campers trampled into your campsite at 3am and stood over your tent whispering loudly. Pretty damn scary or at least really annoying and sure to disturb your sleep enough to make for a crappy day tomorrow.

Long-eared Owl - Ohio

Monday, January 9, 2012

Even more from South Texas! You gotta go!

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Baby Alligator!

Tropical Parula at Quinta Mazatlan

Liam at the 2 totems where the Black-throated Grey Warbler was seen moments earlier. We struck out on it and the Rose-throated Becard in the same area.

Turkey Vulture

The rarest bird we saw in South Texas

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Some more from South Texas!

"White-tailed Kite" We saw plenty of these in South TX but not usually sitting on a wire

"American Coot" showing off his crazy feet!

It was hard to get a pic of this "Little Blue Heron"; he was really on the move hunting

"Great White Egret" - South Padre Island, TX

"Snowy Egret" - South Padre Island, TX Neet yellow feet!

This "Reddish Egret" was on the move too, catching fish left and right!

Liam at a boat ramp just outside South Padre Island

"Crested Caracara" Dude looks like a lady. Looks like a fancy lady walking down the street!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Some "common" birds in South Texas

"Plain Chachalaca" The Rio Grande Flying Chicken! Its really a pheasant.

The super cool and noisy, squeaky, "Great Kiskadee"

Green Jay

The stunning and raucaus "Green Jay" Frequent at feeders

We found the Golden-fronted Woodpecker quite common in the Lower Rio Grande Valley

Green Parakeets in Mission, TX

Not being familiar with Green Parakeets I have to assume that some of them show quite a bit of yellow even though it was not indicated in my field guide. Either that or we have discovered a new bird to science in which case we name it the "Rio Grande Yellow-tailed Green Hammertime Bananakeet Parrot"