Friday, October 28, 2011

Photo on Another Blog

One of my photos made the Cape May Bird Observatory blog this week.  Scroll down to Tuesday Oct 25th:

OK, so it’s not a bird, but it’s still one of my photos!

Oh, did I mention that the weathermen predict 5 - 7 inches of SNOW tomorrow?  Oy vay.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

It Looks Just Like the Stuffed One!

If I heard that once, I heard that a hundred times today.  What a difference binoculars make.  Today, Deb, Jay and Brendan joined us at Higbee beach for an incredible day of birding.  We loaned Deb and Jay some good binoculars and viola, we couldn't stop them from looking at birds.  Exclamations such as "wow, look how RED they are regarding Robins, and "it looks just like Brendan's stuffed one" regarding Downy Woodpecker and other birds just kept pouring out of Deb's mouth - really loudly.  So loud that she had the rest of the birders were quite amused.

There were thousands (yes, thousands) of Yellow-rumped Warblers today.  They were literally everywhere.  In the sky. In the trees. On the ground.  In the bushes.  Everywhere.  Along with Ruby and Golden-crowned Kinglets.

The newly hooked birders also saw birds that were completely new to them such as this very tame Yellow-billed Cuckoo:

He even landed on the path in front of us which I have never seen a cuckoo do:

And this Blackpoll Warbler that made a meal out of the Porcelainberry to the enjoyment of the new birders:

We saw 2 immature Bald Eagles over the fields today but still no good photo:

Lastly, there were Brown Creepers today (alive):

I wish that Deb's photos were ready for the blog post. They are really great!  Maybe next time.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Joy Turns to Sadness

Just moments after the last posting, I took Roxy outside for a walk around the building and found this Brown Creeper lying on the sidewalk.  I could have cried.  Another victim of collision with building or car during migration.  The Brown Creeper is a great little bird to see in fall and winter around our area as they creep up the tree trunks picking the bark for bugs.  Their tails are stiff like woodpeckers to hold them upright on the tree trunk.  Now his whole body is stiff :-(   Here is a link to to learn more about these birds.

This little guy just didn't make it. . . Sorry for the downer.  A proper burial will be held tonight in my yard with wake tomorrow night at Cherry Street Tavern.


For the first time in awhile, I am really excited to be sitting in my office in Center City Philadelphia.  Don't get me wrong, I would rather be out birding somewhere, but I have to pay the bills somehow!  The reason that I am excited is because I stumbled upon an idea to add wall art to my office using big artwork.  I then stumbled upon after a quick Google search.  The result is that I now look up from my desk and see this:

It's 6 foot wide by 3 foot high which is what I needed to fill that awful, blank, white wall.  What makes this vinyl banner so great for me is that I took the photo!  Every time I look up from my desk, I am reminded of the day that I got to spend with the Black Skimmers on Cape May's beach (read the post here) and it makes me smile. 

I should tell you that the sales support at Megaprint was great.  I emailed Alex back and forth a few times asking about wallpaper, which was my original idea.  He suggested the vinyl which is a better option for my office.  He also reviewed the quality of the photo and suggested the 6' x 3' size to fit the resolution of the photo.

Gotta go take a phone call from another client but don't worry - I have something nice to look at until I can get outside again.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Yellow-rumps Abound

The winds and weather were not that great for migration this weekend. Kind of a bust for the hawk watchers and the Big Sit birders at Cape May Point. Sunday morning at Higbee proved to be really quiet. We did manage to see our first Towhees of the season and a nice Nashville warbler, but really nothing else. We were home by 9 AM.

Monday morning was a bit different. I started out at the canal and immediately noticed dozens of birds flying north overhead - chipping all the while. Some landed briefly before taking off northbound again. Ruby and Golden Crowned Kinglets were mixed in with the Yellow-rumped Warblers. It soon became apparent that the dozens were turning into hundreds as they never stopped flowing overhead. Yellow-rumps were all over the place but mostly in the air. Tom Johnson is the official counter for the Morning Flight. He recorded 2000+ Yellow-rumps before 10 AM so you can imagine how many flew north, past Higbee throughout the day. Coincidentally, the Villas is north of the Morning Flight location . . .

I was in Cape May on Monday for work, not pleasure (wink, wink). I finally left the house at 4 PM after meeting with a client and doing some more work on the computer.  I was all set to do a quick walk on the beach with the dog and then head home but I never made it to the beach.  I was inundated with warblers and kinglets as soon as I stepped into the yard.  Yellow-rumps were literally everywhere flitting from every tree and bush in our yard and our neighbors' yards. They used any and every perch they could find to launch themselves into the air to catch bugs.  Here are some photos which don't even include the Black-throated Green Warbler and the Kinglets.

Yellow-rumped Warber sitting in our yard

Different Yellow-rump, same yard

Yellow-rump sitting on our dilapidated fence

Yellow-rump sitting on the driver's door of the Subaru!

Yellow-rump chowing down on a bug

These are all presumably different birds.  There were at least 20 at any given moment in our yard.  How is that for Yellow-rump overkill?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Our favorite AZ Birds

I'll bore you with pics of our favorite Arizona Birds. We were golfing at Gold Canyon Golf Resort today, and we're on the tee box, which is elevated. As were standing there, this guy peeks his head over.

You gotta love the roadrunner.

and here is Gambel's Quail.

and last but not least, the cactus wren.
That was today, yesterday we went to the Riparian Preserve at Gilbert Water Ranch. A fantastic park, lots of birds, nice trails, restrooms, water fountains. and some warblers. Taking pictures of warblers is probably the hardest shot to get. They're in constant motion, jumping from branch to branch so quick, you immediately lose your focus, lose the bird, you get the point. So I took almost 30 pictures of wilson's warbler and black-throated gray. We get home that night and it's like playing "Where's Waldo.". Tara is leaning over my shoulder, asking where the bird is in 99.9% of the pictures. As follows:

Where's Wilson? Finally, after slogging thru all my pics, one decent one, not great, but decent.

So that's the report from Scottsdale.

Lori and Tara

Monday, October 3, 2011

Arizona, the land of no rain

Tara and I are out in Scottsdale this week for golf and birding. Sunday we visited We-Ko-Pa Golf Club. Saw some typical AZ birds, cactus wren, roadrunner (tara's fav), Verdin. Best spot was a bobcat on one of the par 3 holes. We've never seen one in the wild, very cool. Back at the hotel after dinner, we're walking out of the lobby and hear parrots. What? Yes, parrots. Rosy-faced Lovebirds evidently are colonizing the Phoenix area. There were about 4 of them, I'll try and get some pics, was too dark at 6:30pm.

Monday we went to Granite Reef Recreation Area, saw about 34 species. Tons of yellow-rumps, the "audubon" variety. Believe it or not, I actually got a picture, and I think it's somewhat in focus, which is a minor miracle(click it.) Other highlights: Says Phoebe, Lincoln Sparrow, White-crowned sparrow. I'm gonna publish this now cause Tara is gonna kill me, I keep previewing this post and can't find my way back .


The Philadelphia E-A-G-L-E-S blew a 17 point lead and lost to the 49ers yesterday in really bad form but the real Eagles - the Bald type really put on a show over the weekend. I personally had a "touchdown" (6 eagles at Higbee beach) and "extra point" (1 more eagle soaring over RT 55 on my way home) on Sunday.  I saw 4 eagles in the sky at the same time which I have not seen since I was in Seattle 5 years ago.  Here are some photos - not as good as the warbler photos from the last post.

Juvenile Bald Eagle
(click to enlarge)
Notice that this bird does not have the white head and tail but it has that giant beak!  Also notice how the wings are held straight across when soaring which is a good way to tell that it is an eagle and not a vulture.  Vultures hold their wings up in the air forming a "V" which makes it easy to remember - V is for Vulture (not Vodka!)

Here is a series of photos showing an adult Bald Eagle harassing an Osprey to drop it's fish.  The Osprey eventually dropped the fish but the Eagle never got it.  The fish is laying somewhere in the marsh. The photos are really far away but I think you get the gist of it.

Check out CMBO's View from the Cape to read another account of eagles this weekend and see Tony Leukering's photo of an adult Bald Eagle that passed close to the lighthouse.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

All Righty Then

The weather finally broke around here which means that the birds are finally on the move south.  Not only are the birds flocking into south Jersey, but so are the birders.  I have a few blog posts in my head after the past 2 days, but I thought I would post this one today which deals with photography and photographers.

I have been using my camera and new lens for a while now and still don't really know what I'm doing.  Yes, I get good photos sometimes, but that doesn't mean that I know what I'm doing.  Well I finally got up the nerve to ask a couple of photographers that I have been hanging around with if they would help me.  Gerry and John obliged and gave me some tips yesterday.  Gerry gave me some more tips today.

Here are some of the results from an amazing warbler experience this afternoon.  I literally could have touched the Cape May warbler.  I shot about 60 photos of this bird over the course of an hour - along with another 200+ of the Black-throated Blue, Blackpoll and Parula.  I still deleted most of the shots but at least I got a few really good ones.

Cape May Warbler - notice the cheek pattern which is the diagnostic field mark

Blackpoll Warbler - notice the eye line and wing bars which are diagnostic field marks

Black-throated Blue Warbler - notice, well the black throat and blue color

Northern Parula - notice the olive patch on his back which is diagnostic field mark

I must tell you that these photos are not cropped by much.  I only cropped them to remove leaves and other distracting features.  The Parula is the best shot that I have ever taken of this species - thanks to Gerry.  Here  is another shot of the Parula hanging upside down which is typical for this active little bugger.

Notice the little piece of debris that just fell out of the bird's mouth and the way the sun lit up the belly of this bird.  Just a great shot if I do say so myself.

The birds just didn't want to leave this particular tree. Here are a couple of shots with multiple species in the same frame.

Cape May Warbler and Parula working the crux of the tree

Blackpoll Warbler replaced the Parula - there must have been something yummy there

Hoping for more good stuff tomorrow.  I have another story from Friday that I will post if tomorrow doesn't pan out.Let me know what you think of the photos by posting a comment.