Thursday, June 26, 2008

Skipped on the Burrowing Owl

No positive reports + violent T-storms on the way = me not going out for the owl. That is all.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Burrowing Owl in Ohio!

Just in - a Burrowing Owl has been photographed in Darke County Ohio. This is the fourth record of the species in the state. I'm going out after work tonight with friends to try and see it. Apparently it's been hanging around some culverts for the last week. If we see it, it will be my second burrowing owl for the year (the first was in the Florida Keys).

Also, I won a copy of the new Smithsonian Guide to North American Birds by participating in 10,000 Birds Great Smithsonian Guide Giveaaway! I'll post a review of it here when I receive it. Thanks to the jammy finger of Charlie's child for selecting my entry!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Black Rail!

I went out Monday night and spent two hours at Charlie's Pond, a little wetland in Pickaway County that has a history of producing odd birds every now and again. Since the 1st of June, at least 1 Black Rail has been calling here, and appears to have set up a territory. I waited for about an hour, heard the birds at 830, and waited another hour, but one call was all I was going to get, it seems. One call is all it takes to add it to my life list though!

The Scioto County atlasing went well - my best breeding confirmation was Kentucky Warbler. We also went out on Saturday night for nocturnal birds, and had a great encounter with a Barred Owl that called and flew in so we could look at it, and in a different spot we had four Eastern Screech-owls and a Chuck-will's-widow (another heard-only lifer!).

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Doing some blockbusting this weekend

I'm going to be helping my friend Brad do some breeding bird atlas survey work down in southern Ohio this weekend. He arranged for free camping, which is a nice bonus. Hopefully, I'll get some more state year birds as well - I'm having an average year for the state list, but my best year ever for the ABA area - which is partly why my state list is suckin'!

We're going to stop in Pickaway County on the way down tomorrow to try for Black Rails that may have set up shop in a local wetland - at least two males and perhaps a female have been calling all week. Of course, with my luck, it will be gone by the time I get there...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Florida Trip, Day 6: May 16

Willet, Fort Desoto State Park

The Last Day

After a fine day in the Gulf of Mexico, our last day in Florida was devoted to a bit of “mop-up” and then some time in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. First off, we arose very early in the morning and headed back to Miami in search of Spot-breasted Oriole and White-winged Parakeet, both of which we had missed on Monday but had gotten some tips about good locations. We ended up back in the same neighborhoods, just at more likely times. We spent nearly 2 hours searching. An oriole was heard but never seen at our first location, which also featured Monk Parakeets and Yellow-chevroned Parakeets. Our target birds were not present, but a great bonus prize was an Eastern Screech-Owl that flew up and perched in a tree right in front of me! After two hours, we gave up on our target birds. We were stopped at a light right before the freeway ramp, ready to head north and west, when John yelled out “Oriole! It flew into that tree!” We all whipped our heads around and while not the best views in the world, there was a Spot-breasted Oriole, perched up in the top of a palm! It flew off, and our light turned green. Our mood of defeat was turned to triumph, and away we went, life bird number 415 safely ticked.

We made it to Fort DeSoto State Park about 1pm, a place known for shorebirds and as a location for Black-hooded Parakeets. We did not find the parakeets, but some careful scrutiny of shorebirds revealed an American Oystercatcher (ABA bird 383 for me) and a Snowy Plover (ABA 384, life bird 416)! After an hour and a half at the park, we followed some directions in Bill Pranty’s guide to a marina in St. Pete, and we drove around for a bit until we heard the screeching of parrots. We found a house with platform feeders and Monk Parakeets, along with a Snowy Egret in a pine tree and a Great Egret on their deck.

Snowy Egret, pretending to be a Pine Warbler

Suddenly, a big parakeet dropped down onto a platform feeder, and there it was – Black-hooded Parakeet, a recent addition to the ABA list, and now the most recent addition to my lists (ABA 385, life 417)! This was a big, good looking bird, and pretty vocal – this was the parakeet we heard that drew us to this location. The parakeet was also the only bird of the trip that was a life bird for everyone.

Black-hooded Parakeet, St. Petersburg

We headed north again, towards Hernando Beach and possibly the last place in Florida where there is an established population of wild Budgerigars, or Budgies. For a typical noisy psittacid, these guys were difficult to find, and we spent two and a half hours driving around a sleepy retiree neighborhood until, just as we were about to give up, a small flock flew overhead and perched in some bushes. This was our last target bird and closed out our trip, as we decided to head home a day early. I finished up the trip with a life list totaling 418 and an ABA list of 386, an increase of 46 birds. Overall, the trip was highly successful, with around 180 species observed and hitting almost all of our target birds, minus Greater Flamingo, White-tailed Kite, Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow, Red-crowned Parrot, White-winged Parakeet, and Fulvous Whistling-Duck.