Monday, October 15, 2007

LeConte's Sparrows

Saturday I went out with some friends to look for LeConte's and Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows at Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area. Although we dipped on the Nelson's, we had great, no, SPECTACULAR views of LeConte's. A few photos below. We saw five individual sparrows in 2 groups. Another highlight was a flock of 20 Sandhill Cranes.

Later, we went to Big Island WA for sparrows, but struck out. Had some great views of Northern Harriers and Bald Eagle, though.

Female Northern Harrier, Big Island

Second year Bald Eagle, Big Island

Tobacco Hornworm at Big Island

Monday, October 8, 2007

Considering joining the ABA

I'm considering joining the American Birding Association, but there are a couple of things holding me back.

1. Price: while $45 a year doesn't seem like much, I'm already shelling out big bucks for my professional memberships as well, not to mention my dues to Audubon and the Ohio Ornithological Society.

2. The ABA area - For some reason, the ABA doesn't include any Mexican territory within its area, but does include Canada. The Birdfreak blog post for may 22, 2007 addressed this better than I could, so I'll link to it:

However, one issue that Birdfreak didn't raise that seems glaring to me is that the ABA includes Canada. Why exclude one country but not another? To be frank, in today's political climate, it has a subtle reek of racism. I'm sure (or at least I hope) that's not the case, but still, the benefits to including Mexico seem self-evident, and I don't see any reason to not include it that wouldn't also apply to removing Canada from the ABA area. Unless the ABA just wants to serve the needs of big listers, which seems pretty lame to me, but if that's the case, then they SHOULD remove Canada from the region and make the area only the land and territorial waters of the 49 continental states.

Anyway, I'm mulling it over.

#365: Orange-crowned Warbler

I picked up life bird number 365 on Saturday on the Avids trip, an Orange-crowned Warbler. This bird has been eluding me since I started seriously birding in 2003, so it was great to finally see one, as non-descript a bird as it is.

The focus of the trip was sparrows, though. Our first stop was the former site of the Richfield Coliseum, once home to professional sports and U2 concerts but now a grassy field. Apparently in wetter years, it's a great spot for Ammodramus sparrows like Nelson's Short-tailed and Leconte's, but the only sparrows we scared up there were Savannah and Song, although Palm Warblers were a nice consolation.

Our next stop was Dike 14 at the Cleveland Waterfront State Park, or rather, the fenceline since you aren't allowed into this important bird area. This is where I saw the Orange-crowned Warbler, along with Lincoln's, Savannah, White-Crowned, Chipping and Song Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. Other species of note included Red-breasted Nuthatches, Pine Warblers, Blue-headed Vireo, Eastern Phoebe and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (one of which was apparently harvesting something from a metal radio tower).

Next was Lorain Harbor, where a new impoundment has been freshly constructed. They helpfully bulldozed a coupel trails through the phragmites, and the place was hopping with sparrows. We had Song, White-crowned, White-throated, Savannah, Swamp, and two Nelson's Sharp-tailed sparrows, along with Common Yellowthroat.

Finally, we cruised the Cedar Point Chausee, but high traffic volume discouraged us from walking out to scope birds. Our drive by did not reveal anything that looked too interesting, so that was fine.

On sunday, I tried for the Franklin's Gulls at Buck Creek State Park and Indian Lake, but dipped on both. I guess that gull will have to wait a while for me.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Conneaut: I can see the potential

Unfortunately for me, it wasn't living up to its potential for the hour I spent there Tuesday. I could see how close you can get to shorebirds and gulls. The problem for me was the lack of numbers and diversity while I was there. Maybe a couple hundred gulls, mostly Herring and Ring-billed, with some Bonaparte's Gulls. Only shorebirds were a group of 3 juvenile Black-bellied Plovers and a single juvenile American Golden-Plover.

Still, I bet when a migration wave hits it, it's awesome.