Friday, September 30, 2011

hot spot in Ivyland

My dream retirement home would be a lovely house that backs up to green space, and we can sit on our back porch and watch warblers flit in and out of the trees. Well, this morning in Ivyland boro, a little bit of a dream come true. Tara is looking out the window, and swears she sees redstarts in the trees. Earlier in the week, she said the same thing, and when I got home and looked at the birds, they were yellow rumped warblers, so that was Monday or Tuesday of this week. So this morning I get out the binocs, and sure enough, that was a redstart. And, wait, what's that? Red-eyed Vireo. And, huh? Oh, just magnolia warbler. And what's that warbler tara asks? No, too big for a warbler, oh, just a scarlet tanager. And there goes a yellow warbler, and more redstarts, and the vireo really likes our magnolia tree. There's a flycatcher up in the oak. Don't ask, have no idea which one. That was our morning, I was an hour late for work, watching vireos and warblers and tanagers, and a sharpie flew by for good measure. Linda always tells me to look up, you never know what you'll see in your backyard. That's 49 total species in our backyard, with no deep woods around us. That's pretty cool for around here.
Fabulous way to start your day. Next week, Arizona!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Olive-sided Flycatcher - # 644

I got life bird # 644 today thanks to sticking it out on an unfavorable day and sticking with generous, friendly birders.  We have been birding alot in Cape May this year since we bought the houses in the Villas.  We have been seeing the same birders out all summer too.  We have been running into a friendly and generous (birdingly generous, that is) couple almost every outing.  He is French with great French accent.  She has a distinctive Philly accent (trust me, I know about those).  Both of them always engage us in conversation and also go out of their way to point out birds.

Today, they pointed out #644 - Olive-sided Flycatcher - to me and Diane after most other birders were gone to other locations.  Photographic conditions were terrible again with overcast skies but here is a pretty good photo of the flycatcher. Nothing sexy, but it does show the diagnostic "vest".

Here is another photo showing the Olive-sided and a Pewee in the same tree.  Unbelievable luck that the Pewee showed up because the Pewee is the flycatcher that is most mistaken for the Olive-sided.

OK, now that you are thoroughly bored, how about some eye candy.  Male Yellow warbler. Us bird nerds nicknamed this bird "Ray" because they are always like a ray of sunshine when you see them.  I finally got a decent photo of one today after years of trying.  Once again, this is the result of very a couple of very nice birders.  This time, it was a couple of older gentlemen from Rhode Island.  And this time it was me and Diane that were being "generous" by pointing out the Palm warblers and the 3 Yellow warblers along the dune path at the State Park.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I Can't Remember Seeing This Many Birds

In one day that is!  Granted, it wasn't like yesterday where the warblers where dripping from the trees and running around at my feet like that Black-throated Green Warbler.  But . . . there were multitudes of birds today - all flying NORTH across Higbees Beach fields.  Birds were streaming by 2, 3, and sometimes dozens at a time. 

We showed up at 6:45 and noticed dozens of birders standing in the first fields all looking up, but without binoculars.  They were just standing there looking.  Weird.  When we got into the field, we understood what was going on.  Birds were flying past in numbers that I have never seen.  All flying NORTH.  Not really landing in trees for more than a second or two, if at all.  It was something to witness.  Something to talk about later.  But not really something to use binoculars for.

There were alot of Parulas, Redstarts and Red-eyed Vireos. Our first Palm warblers of the season came through today (Mom - get ready to see them at your house soon). We also got to see a few Tennessee Warblers and even got to see a Tennessee sitting next to a Nashville (get it) in the same tree.  Barbara and Diane got to see a Wilson's warbler - I missed it.  We all got a good look at a Black-billed Cuckoo. I got terrible photos of it which are not worth including in this post. 

Speaking of photos - notice that there aren't any photos to go along with the words in this post.  That is because it was impossible for me to get photos of this spectacle with my camera and lens setup. 

It was pretty awesome to witness.  We departed at 9 AM because we had work to do - tear the siding off of the green house in preparation for new roof, siding and windows coming in the next few weeks.  Rain set it after we were done with our chore, so no more birding for the day.  Hopefully tomorrow will also bring lots of birds and better photographic opportunities. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fabulous Forecast!

I showed up in Cape May tonight at 6 PM and went straight to the Cape May Bird Observatory because I got 1400 text messages today about how many warblers were around.  I am glad that I did it.  I saw the following warblers:
Yellow, Black and White, Blackburnian, Hooded, Cape May, Northern Parula, Common Yellow Throat, Magnolia, Tennessee, Redstart, and this Black-throated Green:

I also saw this Yellow Bellied Flycatcher:

More tomorrow!  Should be gooooood!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

BIRD is a 4 Letter Word

Birding has changed alot since the advent of the Internet and Smarphones. It used to be a mystery each time we went out birding - what could we see today, are we at the right place at the right time, does anybody else bird here? The best we would know about a certain birding location would be that another person showed up with binoculars. Or, it was mentioned in a birdwatching magazine.

For instance, Connie and I went to Newfoundland many years ago on a 3 week camping trip - in August. Who knew that we should have been there in June for more birds? We also went to New Mexico one year in May which you would think would be good for birding, but we didn't know where to go so we didn't see that many birds.

Nowadays, I simply walk around with an iPhone and get text messages and Tweets telling me about great birds being seen in the area at any given moment. The problem is that the texts and tweets come in 4 letter bird code and half of the time, I can't figure them out. Take last week's text : GWWA and BWWA at Higbee. Or this one : MAFR heading over bay. Or Adult ROST flew west past Coral Ave. Luckily, I can figure some of them out with a little concentration but even more to the point, I can use my iPhone to look it up! Golden-winged Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Magnificent Frigatebird and adult Roseate Tern all make sense.

I have been the grateful recipient of the text messages, tweets, and Birdseye information until this weekend when I was finally the giver of information when I spotted this Mourning Warbler under the pavilion at Cape May Hawk Watch on Saturday afternoon.

Admittedly, I thought is was a Connecticut Warbler until I alerted other birders who pointed out the difference in the eye ring. I then texted "MOWA at start of trail in State Park" and was shocked when about a dozen other birders flocked (get it?) to the spot to see the bird. Ah, technology.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Skimmers Up Close and Personal

Black Skimmers have to be one of my favorite birds of all time. I can remember the first time that I saw a group of these birds skimming the surface of the water in the back bay of Chincoteague Island. I could not believe my eyes. These beautiful birds are the only (or one of the only) birds that has a longer bottom bill than the top. They fly low to the water with their mouths open and put the bottom bill in the water as they fly. Their mouths snap shut if the bottom bill touches something in the water - hopefully a fish. It is pretty neat to see.

There were hundreds of Skimmers on the beach in Cape May this weekend which is unusual. It gave me an opportunity to photograph them up close as they flew around and rested on the beach. Enjoy. Remember to click on any image to enlarge it.

Solo Flight

The whole Gang

Cropped - I thought this looked cool

Youngster practicing his skimming on the puddle

At rest on the beach - look how narrow the bill is

I think this is the advantage of being at the shore often now. I have time to walk the beach with my camera to get some decent shots. I hope to have more for you later in the week. Post a comment if you like the skimmers.