Saturday, February 20, 2010

GBBC - Results from Rydal

I counted birds on Sat, Sun, Mon last weekend as part of the Great Backyard Birdcount. Frankly, there wasn't anything else to do but shovel and count birds. We totaled 40 inches of snow. Wet, heavy snow.

I had the usual suspects at the feeders plus an American Tree Sparrow. Only the second time that I have seen one at our house in 10 years. Here is a photo that I shot by opening the kitchen door a crack and sticking the lens outside.

I had an amazing morning on Thursday. First, I opened the garage door to get seed for the feeders and found a White-throated Sparrow that spent the night in the garage. I had to let him land on my hand and direct him toward the door because he kept flying against the window to escape. Then I found a Robin in the yard just sitting there with his eyes closed. Poor thing was barely alive. He flew away when Roxy got too close, but I think he's not long for this world. Then after I came back inside all of the birds took off with a whoosh! I looked out to see that one bird did not escape the grasp of the Sharp-shinned Hawk. Circle of life, circle of life. . . All before 7:30 AM.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Great Backyard Bird Count - 2010

It's that time of year again - time for us casual and obsessed birdwatchers alike to count birds in our yards to contribute data on winter (resident) birds in North America.  Here is the description:

"Join the 13th annual Great Backyard Bird Count by tallying the birds you see at any location during February 12-15. Watch for at least 15 minutes on one or more count days, record the highest number of each species you see at any one time, and enter your checklist at Put your sightings on the map and watch as counts pour in from around the United States and Canada! The count is led by the Cornell Lab, Audubon, and Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada, with sponsorship from Wild Birds Unlimited."

Here is a link to the official site: .  If you are a first time "counter" you should sign up today, then enter your sightings over the next few days.  Mom, this includes you.  Dave can download a checklist for you to use.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Let it Snow!

Not much to report from Abington today.  We were on the short end of the "Blizzard of Twenty Ten" here in Abington township with a mere 14 inches of snow.  I had the driveway cleared by 11 AM Saturday. Piece of cake.  Everyone else was texting, calling and emailing about their 26+ inches. 

Meanwhile, our birds were lined up at the feeder just waiting for me to shovel and sprinkle their seeds.  They literally sat in branches a few feet from my head waiting.  Once I put the seed out - whoosh! 40 - 50 birds including 2 dozen juncos, 1 dozen goldfinches, white-throated and song sparrows, nuthatches, chickadees, titmice, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers decended on the feeders and have not stopped since. 

We have an addition to our pet family too.  Lucy has become a full time member due to allergies of our friends' 4 year old.  Lucy and Roxy made out fine on their first weekend together.  Roxy is a princess as you know and is having a tough time in the snow.  I put boots on her which lasted about 5 minutes. . .

Oh, did I mention the additional 12 inches of snow forecast for Tuesday night.  Geez.  Makes Florida look better and better.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Southwest Florida Sampler

Finally able to post our trip from Sunday in southwest Florida.  I can't say enough about my iTouch and the new "app" from Cornell Lab called Birdseye.  I mentioned it in previous posts, but it really came in handy this weekend.  I noticed that there were quite a few birds listed in the Punta Gorda area at a hotspot called Bunche Beach.  The couple that we met at Babcock-Webb WMA also mentioned Bunche Beach as a good location.  So we were up at 0'dark:30 and off to explore Bunche Beach in Fort Meyers, then planned on a stop at Ding Darling on Sanibel, and finally Corkscrew Swamp in Immokolee to round off the day.  It was an ambitious plan for sure.  It was also lousy weather.  Cold enough for jackets and really overcast all day with intermittent drizzle/mist.

We timed the trip according to low tide which was at 8 AM.  We started the day at Bunche Beach so that we would end up at Ding Darling when the tide was out.  It turned out to be a smart move.

Bunche Beach (pronounced Bunch but we continued to say Buncheee all day)
The tide was out which exposed alot of the beach.  We saw 2 birders way out in the distance using a spotting scope to view a hundred or so Black Skimmers.  We walked the beach toward them when all of a sudden, all of the Skimmers took off across the bay.  What a bummer.  We looked up and realized why the Skimmers were high-tailing it off the beach.  An immature Bald Eagle was cruising for a quick meal.
The 2 birders with the scope turned out to be Ann and Charles from Babcock-Webb.  What a coincidence.  We got really great looks at Sanderlings - I know, I know, who cares about Sanderlings but they were running across our feet all morning.  We couldn't help but coo over how cute they were.  We also pretty much had a workshop on 4 plovers with up close views of each.  Black-bellied, Semi-palmated (1st photo), Piping (2nd photo), and Wilson's (lifebird for us, 3rd photo) were also running all around us on the beach.

Ding Darling
I had an epiphany about timing this stop at low tide which turned out to be good.  We arrived after low tide and saw more birds than we have seen there in a long time.  Roseate Spoonbills, White Pelicans, all species of Herons and Egrets (including Reddish), sandpipers and gulls were all feeding in the mud flats in large numbers.  Yeah. We also got close up and personal with a Spotted Sandpiper feeding in a ditch.  Here is the best shot that I could get in the poor conditions:

Corkscrew Swamp
We headed to Corkscrew swamp after lunch hoping for Barred Owl, Pileated Woodpeckers and possible Swallow-tailed Kites.  We only got one of those (Pileated) but we were surprised by the number of passerines that we saw up close. We listed 29 species in all.  Unfortunately, the light was soooo bad by then that none of my full frame photos came out.  All blurry.  I could cry.

Here is our list from Corkscrew:

Double-crested Cormorant Red-bellied Woodpecker Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Anhinga Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Gray Catbird
Little Blue Heron Downy Woodpecker Yellow-throated Warbler
Black-crowned Night-Heron Hairy Woodpecker Pine Warbler
White Ibis Pileated Woodpecker Palm Warbler
Wood Stork Eastern Phoebe Black-and-white Warbler
Black Vulture Great Crested Flycatcher Common Yellowthroat
Turkey Vulture White-eyed Vireo Eastern Towhee
Red-shouldered Hawk Blue-headed Vireo Common Grackle
Common Ground-Dove Carolina Wren

On our way out of Corkscrew, we drove north on a back road only to spot 2 Crested Caracara flying next to us, landing in a Palm tree, then landing in the middle of the road to pick at some dead critter.  Cars were beeping at them to get them off of the road.  Caracara in Florida?  Pretty cool.