Thursday, December 29, 2011

Elusive Birds

Take a look to the right of this post. You should be able to see that I am 1 bird shy of 700.  I would really like to get #700 in 2011.  The only way that will happen is if I can see Saw Whet Owl or Long-eared Owl this week.  I don't think that will happen but you never know.  Another possibility would be for some interesting gull to show up in Cape May. 

Birds can sometimes be very elusive.  Even large birds like Sandhill Cranes which stand 4 feet tall and have red feathers on the tops of their heads can be difficult to spot even though you know that they are around.  So says my friend Mark anyway.  He has a farm out in Somerset County which I blogged about here (click to re-read the post).  He has 2 Sandhill Cranes that have taken up residence there and even had a baby last year.  Mark and his wife have a dicken's of a time finding those birds when they visit the farm.

Apparently, Barbara has a difficult time spotting Sandhill Cranes too as shown in this photograph from our recent trip to Florida:

Apparently, it only takes a sprig of ornamental grass to completely camouflage the Cranes.  Look at how skittish these birds are!  (NOT!)  Here is another photo of the birds stumping both Barbara and Diane:

Diane has even tried to elevate herself on the back of the golf cart for a better view, but from the looks of this photo, she still can't spot the bird. I think Barbara is looking at the field guide to lend assistance in the search . . .  Its a good think I was on the other side of the grass huh?

More photos of the elusive Sandhill Crane.  Mark should study these photos so that he knows what to look for the next time he is on the farm.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Naughty or Nice?  Who cares.  Santa brought me this new camera AND this Pileated Woodpecker to photograph:

Enjoy your day.  More Florida follow ups to come.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Florida Follow Up

I am really amazed with the new camera.  We went up to The Villages to see my Mom on Sunday and got some REALLY good photos of ducks floating around on the golf course ponds.  Here is a great shot of a Canvasback duck stretching his leg with a coot and another sleeping duck

Here is the same shot cropped a little bit so that you can see that the coot is in mid-quack:

And cropped again so that you can see the details of the Canvasback's webbed foot and his red eye:

My point here is that the new camera captures so many pixels that I can crop this photo this much and the resolution is still this good.  Click on the photo to see it enlarged.  The resolution is still really good.

Here are some other shots of ducks that came out pretty good too.

This is a male Ring-necked Duck. They should really be called Ring-billed if you ask me.  Here is the female:

And finally, a portrait of a coot:

After not having many posts last month, I have tons of fodder from this trip to post a few more in the coming days.  Stay tuned. . .

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Biggest Nerd Alive!

Follow up to my previous post.  I was really exhausted last night while typing that last post.  Exhausted from being out on the new boat all day and throwing a few rounds of darts at the pub.  I can barely lift my arm today which is a good indication of being a nerd or being really out of shape (or both).

Another indication of being a big nerd is the fact that I yelled "TUBENOSE!  I think that bird is a Tubenose." when I first spotted the Greater Shearwater in the harbor yesterday.  Even the nerds turned around and went "What?  Did you just say Tubenose?" and then laughed at me.  My own people laughed at me so you know that's nerdy.  I knew that the bird wasn't a gull or tern.  I knew it was something like a petrel or shearwater or something.  Those birds are grouped together in the Sibley Guide as "Tubenoses" starting on page 32.  Their nostrils are bumped up above the bill unlike other birds. This feature is visible in the photograph below.  Look at the top of the bill just where it meets the head.  The tube reminds me of a scoop on the hood of a hot rod car.

If you need photographic proof that I am the biggest nerd that you know - here it is.  This is me excitedly snapping away with my new camera.

I've also included this video for your entertainment.  CAUTION:  It might make you seasick!

Click here if you can't see the video above.  Also, post a comment and let me know if you can view it or not.  This is the first time I have used Windows Movie Maker.

So, let's recap: 
  1. Darts exhausted me.
  2. I yelled "Tubenose!"
  3. I was as giggly as a schoolgirl when the bird was that close to the boat.

You decide.  Biggest nerd you ever knew?  Probably. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Maiden Voyage

Ahoy Mate!  The Nerds are cruising in style this week in Florida in the new boat.  We took it out on it's very first voyage today into Charlotte Harbor and had a great time.  Oh, and we all got a life bird too.  Greater Shearwater!

Here is the boat.  A gorgeous 23' Sea Fox:

Here is me driving the boat for about 1 second in the Gulf of Mexico.  You can see the Charlotte Harbor Inlet channel marker and Cayo Costa in the background:

Here is the Greater Shearwater which we photographed in the same location as the photo above.  Speaking of maiden voyages - these photos of the bird are taken with my brand new Canon 7D camera.  This trip is the camera's maiden voyage too.

Notice Barbara's Corona bottle?  That is how close this bird was to our boat. This photo is not cropped at all.  The bird didn't mind having it's photo taken or our talking or anything. 

Here it is flying.  The photo isn't in the sharpest focus due to me being on a moving boat trying to photograph a moving bird with a new camera but it shows the underside of the wings which is a good field mark for Greater Shearwater. 

I'm exhausted so this is a quick post.  More details about how big of a nerd I am later.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Perserverence Wins

Remember how we did the World Series of Birding back in May?  Well, there are 2 women that coordinate that event and do a great job at it - Marleen and Sheila.  They are really nice ladies. The kind that always give you a big hug and seem happy to see you even when they are busy.  They are birders and work for NJ Audubon in various capacities at the store in Cape May etc.  They don't send text messages or alerts about bird sightings from their personal accounts often but they did today.  About 8:00 AM, they sent out a text about a Painted Bunting flying over a field in West Cape May.  I didn't pay it much attention since it was flying over a field and probably headed south somewhere.  Then another text came in stating that the bird, an adult male, was seen at a feeder at Hidden Valley Ranch so I succumbed and headed over. 

Well, it turns out that the bird was at Marleen and Sheila's feeder!  Of course, it was gone by the time that I got there.  A NJ Audubon volunteer was there keeping watch for the bird.  We stood there for 45 minutes.  No bird.  I finally gave up because I had to go to the bathroom so I went to the pizza place to get a slice, the mandatory Diet Coke and the restroom.  I went back and was told those words that you never want to hear - "you just missed it. He was just here a minute ago".  Of course.  So I stood there for another 45 minutes.  No bird.  I finally gave up again and went back to the house to pack up.  Then I got another text message - 'PABU still at Marleen and Sheila's feeder'.  Crap.  So I went back.

This time, I was rewarded by the most colorful bird in America.  The male Painted Bunting. 

Now, I know that this isn't the best photo of a Painted Bunting, but the bird was backlit by bright afternoon sun and didn't pose like this for long.  But you should be able to see how colorful this bird is.  He has a bright green back, red breast and bright blue head.  It's like a kid's coloring book bonanza.  Here is another photo of the bird after he flew under Marleen and Sheila's butterfly bush. You can see how blue the head is here.

You would think that a bird that is this gaudily colored would be EASY to find.  Not so.  Just to give you an idea of what I was looking at when I took the photo above, here is the scene zoomed out. 

Look really hard, the bird is in there. Click on the image to enlarge it, then zoom some more, then look really hard again.  The bird is dead center of the photo.
Anyway, that is a long-winded way of saying that it wasn't easy but definitely rewarding.