Monday, May 28, 2007

To count or not to count

I spent Saturday up at Magee Marsh, in NW Ohio. The weather conditions were pretty lousy, rainy in the morning, but the rain tapered off in the late afternoon. I still had a pretty good birding day, with two life birds - Alder Flycatcher and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. I just missed adding Connecticut Warbler to the list. Technically, I did hear it singing but I just feel that wasn't enough for this bird, especially since I saw a bird that probably was a Connecticut Warbler but couldn't make out the diagnostic marks (it was in the same area as a Connecticut Warbler my friends flushed up at their feet while I was walking towards the beach to get some photos of Ruddy Turnstones). I only heard the Alder Flycatcher but identified it right away on the song. I feel that I can count this bird, however, because it's an Empidonax flycatcher that is only distinguishable from Willow Flycatchers through song. I don't know, I probably can count Connecticut Warbler, but I really want to SEE this bird, so it stays off my life list for now.

I also added Yellow-billed Cuckoo to my year list. Otherwise, numbers and varieties of birds were pretty low that day. I managed to get a few decent photos, though, which was one of my goals for the day. Here's a few (in order: female Canada Warbler, Great Egret, female Black-and-white Warbler, Ruddy Turnstone, Barn Swallow):

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Some more bird photos

I took out my new camera again yesterday, this time to the Kiwanis-Dublin Riverside Park in Dublin, Ohio. I took about 40 photos, I figure these two are the best. Both of these images have been cropped, and the Song Sparrow photo was additionally altered through the use of the "Levels" adjustment in Photoshop in order to brighten the image. Overall, the photos came out much better as I was using a tripod.

Song Sparrow

Carolina Chickadee

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

trying out the new toy

I got a great birthday gift from my dad last week - A Nikon D40X DSLR package. It comes with two lenses, a standard 18-55mm and a 55-200mm telephoto. I took it out for my first attempts at bird photography in the early evening yesterday after work. Not the best conditions, and it clearly demonstrated to me that I need to use a tripod. I was out at a local park and the light wasn't the best, and I was also putting in some time for the Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas, so photography wasn't the main goal. Here's my best efforts:

Baltimore Oriole

Tree Swallow

Gray Catbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Monday, May 14, 2007

How to piss off a Peregrine Falcon

The picture of Scout coming at one of the naturalists is possibly one of the greatest falcon photos I've ever seen.

Number 350!

I went out birding to the western Lake Erie Marshes on saturday, which was International Migratory Bird Day. To state it was a great day would be putting it mildly. I added three birds to my life list and one to my Ohio state list. The lifers were (in order of observation): one Mourning Warbler, seven Glossy Ibises, and three Sedge Wrens. The state bird was a Yellow-headed Blackbird. I had a century day with 100 species observed, got my year list over 200, and my state list to 273.

Highlights for me included 21 species of warbler, Virginia Rail, Snowy Egret, Laughing Gull, Eastern Screech Owl, American Woodcock, Sora, Black Tern, Semipalmated Plover, Black-bellied Plover, American Golden-plover, and Ruddy Turnstone.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Norfolk, VA - Ospreys Abound

One of the advantages of my job is that yearly I get to travel somewhere for work, usually for a conference but sometimes on a project. I just got back from a trip to Norfolk, VA, where I was attending a workshop at the Norfolk Naval station. The workshop was held right on the water, so I managed to get in some decent birding during breaks.

Much to my delight, a pair of Osprey established a nest on a harbor marker close to the conference location, and I was often distracted during workshop presentations by the sight of an Osprey gliding by the window along the water's edge. The edge was mostly rip-rap with a small beach, so I had hopes for American Oystercatcher, but no such luck. I did get a pair of Sanderlings, though. Other birds of note were the Laughing Gulls in their handsome breeding plumage, Herring Gulls, Caspian Tern and Brown Pelicans. Four Red-breasted Mergansers hanging out on the beach were the only ducks of note.

Wednesday we managed a morning visit to Jamestown Island to visit the fort site, and I added a few more birds to my Virginia list (As well as my year list): Great Egret, Common Tern, Northern Parula, Yellow-Throated Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Sora, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Wood-Pewee, and four more Ospreys.

Since I started using eBird, I now can keep track of state lists for birds, and Virginia is now #3, behind Ohio and Massachusetts and just ahead of Michigan - something I need to work on, since Michigan is my home state and I should really have more birds for it. The problem of course is that I rarely ever am there during migration. Oh well. Makes it more of a challenge, I guess.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Ivory-Skinned Peckerwoods

I found this pretty amusing.