Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sally's Barn Swallows

Connie and I went to Aunt Sally's annual picnic on Sunday. Sally has a little farm where she keeps an old Horse (Emily) and an old Mule (Daisy). The pasture has a spring-fed pond where Connie saw her first Pterodactyl (Great Blue Heron) when she was a kid and still has great birds throughout the year.

This year, the neighbors across the road have Guinea Hens which make quite a racket. We also got to watch Cowbirds doing almost what they are supposed to do which is follow cows around the open plains. These birds were actually following the horse and mule around the pasture Linkpicking up insects that were scared up by the grazing. Pretty neat.

There are also Barn Swallows nesting in, well the barn. And although the pasture isn't that close to the nests, the swallows did not like Roxy milling around. Here is a video of the Barn Swallow swooping on Roxy. This continued for the entire time that Roxy was in the pasture more than an arms length away from me. Watch Roxy flinch when the swallow gets too close!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Take a Kid Birding

That is a saying from bumper stickers all around Cape May. Obviously a ploy to entice young people to become members of the Audubon and other aging birding clubs. It's a strategy that political parties and religious groups have employed for centuries - get the young people involved so we can continue this "club".

Well, Barbara and I did our part on Sunday morning. We took my nephew Brendan (you may remember him from other posts at Hawk Mountain and Tinicum) to Cape May Point State Park to try for the Purple Gallinule again. Brendan made a comment that he had been to CMPSP last fall and didn't see anything. Well, that's a challenge if I ever heard one! Needless to say, he got 3 life birds with Aunt Linda and Barbara - Glossy Ibis, Surf Scoter, and Least Tern. He probably got more than that since we recorded 39 species in an hour but never did see the Gallinule.

I think he's sufficiently hooked on birding. Now, I want my toaster oven or whatever I'm supposed to get as a prize for inducting another birder into the club.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Kestrals at Warminster Community Park

Barbara the owl lady sent an email about Kestrals nesting at Warminster Community Park. Here is a link to photos of the babies inside the nest sent by Russell Neiger, a local:

MSN Photos - Kestral Babies

Lori, Tara and I went over to the park on Wed after work. I saw Momma Kestral sitting on top of the box when I arrived. She took off being chased by Red-winged Blackbirds and didn't return for awhile. Both Kestrals returned to the area and we had good views of them hover-hunting for insects in the grass.

If you haven't been to Warminster Community Park, you should take a quick trip up some evening. It used to be Johnsville Airbase and Naval Air Station, so the entire park is basically the old air strip with open fields, scrubby bushes, and woods along the perimeter. Good birds here include the Kestral as mentioned above, Brown Thrasher, Yellow Warblers, variety of Sparrows and supposedly Meadowlarks - although Lori and I haven't seen one yet.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Down on the Farm (no Bob Evans needed)

In case you were wondering what my secret motivation for buying the houses at the shore was, I'll let you in on it. But don't tell anyone else. My secret motivation is - Jersey tomatoes (or any homegrown tomato for that matter). Growing up in Philly, we always had a really good garden that produced alot of tomatoes. Then, I moved to the suburbs which was my chance to expand the growing opportunities and produce more produce (pun intended). Well, that turned out to be a big bust. Rydal is a really nice place to live if you like big trees and shade which I do. Tomatoes, not so much.

After 11 years of stunted vegetable plants and red tomatoes in September, I transported the whole 12' x 12' raised bed, enclosed garden to the Villas. I also set up a timed sprinkler system to keep everything watered during the week. Guess what? Paydirt! We already picked 3 peppers, have a ripening tomato, 2 eggplants that should be ready to eat this weekend, and a baby watermelon. Location, location, location. And manure-infused sandy soil. Of course, this puts the price of each tomato up in the $14,000 range, but should be well worth the price!

Tomato and Eggplant plants, also the watering system

First Jersey Tomato of the season - or my life for that matter

Baby watermelon

Aside from gardening and working on getting the green house livable, Barbara and I were determined to find "Davies Lake" which is supposed to be located on the south end of Higbee's Beach behind the dunes. We also wanted to track down the Purple Gallinule that has been seen at Cape May Point State Park. We got the Gallinule, but busted again on finding the lake. We were foiled by high tide which makes it impossible to cross the creek unless you want to go waist deep in water. We were not dressed appropriately.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

iDiot with an iPhone

That is what I am. (Notice the clever way that I used the lower-case "i" in iDiot) I replaced my Droid with an iPhone last week due to the fact that the Droid wouldn't hold a battery charge anymore. Especially after I dumped a whole cup of tea on it during the World Series of Birding. The iPhone has all kind of capabilities and apps that you can download including the entire Sibley Guide (east and west) with sound, Scrabble, oh and a camera.

The camera is why I am an iDiot. This weekend was full of baby showers but Connie and I headed to the Villas anyway to check on the garden and try to relax. We both got up early and took the dog onto the beach for a quick walk. We arrived to a beach full of Laughing Gulls and Horseshoe crabs. There were probably 2,000 gulls on the beach gulping up the crab eggs and probably hundreds of crabs still doing "the nasty". About 100 crabs were upside down on the sand so Connie and I started flipping them over and/or carrying them back to the water's edge. This went on for a few blocks until I noticed a Laughing Gull flailing around in the mud. The poor guy couldn't get out of the muck so I went ankle deep in the slimy mud and picked him up. He was exhausted and couldn't put up much of a fight.

I carried the gull over to Biggie's because I knew she have a cardboard box to put the gull in so that we could keep him calm until we found out where to take him. We called CMBO for info on local bird rehabilitators. They suggested some guy named Steve who never called me back. I decided take the bird to Tri-State Bird Rescue in Newark Delaware on my way to Lauren's baby shower. On my way? Kind of.

Anyway, notice the lack of photos on this post? No photos in spite of the fact that I spent 5 hours with that gull either in my hands, on our porch, or in the passenger seat of the Subaru within inches of my new iPhone 4 with built-in camera. I am truly an iDiot.

I just checked with Tri-State about the bird. He is still there. Still alive. I told them that I would drive him back to the Villas if he can be released. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 6, 2011

That's Why It's Called "Fishing", Not "Catching"

Biggie and I went flounder fishing yesterday on the Lady Chris out of Cape May. As the title of the post suggests, we didn't catch any fish. We basically went on a 4 hour boat ride into Delaware Bay. There were only 5 other people on the trip and it was cold and damp. We were happy to get back to the dock.

Again, why does this story get into a birding blog? Because we didn't catch any fish, but I did manage to get a life bird - Wilson's Storm Petrel. I noticed the brown bird about the size of a Robin flying low over the water like a land bird. Then the bird looked like it was trying to pedal a bicycle on the water, then flew off again. He (or she) did this around the boat for the entire hour that we were fishing along out near the channel light house.

Here is a photo from David Jones from the New England Seabirds website that shows the pedaling behavior. I didn't bring my camera on the fishing trip (dumb).

Here is a link to a good website about Wilson's Storm Petrels. I didn't know that they breed in the Antarctic until I read this:


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sanderling Update

Phillipa just sent these photos of me handling the Sanderlings, so I thought I would post them as an update. Here is a good photo showing how we weighed the birds and all of the tools involved for the banding.

Here is a photo of me kissing the last bird "good-bye" with Joan giggling in the background.