Saturday, August 20, 2016

My Little Friends Return

You are probably sick of reading about my little friends returning to our beach every year but I get excited when they start to arrive. No, I'm not talking about the friends that come out of the woodwork in the summer because we have a beach house. No, I'm not talking about their cute but bratty kids that whine for ice cream and the boardwalk. You know who I'm talking about.

I'm talking about my buddies - 50H scratching himself above, 13Y grabbing a quick bite below.

And 27U flying down the beach.

Here's JUA. You'll notice that this bird's flag is darker green with white lettering rather than lime green with black lettering.

I've been looking at Sanderlings on our beach for about 5 years now. I know an old friend when I see them. T7K is one of the birds that I've seen quite often.

This year, I've seen him a few times already. Here he is on a different day.

I'm not the only one that encountered T7K over the past years. Someone else ran into him in Mexico near Cancun in December of 2012! Here is a screenshot of the database that I enter the sightings into.

All of the entries from Villas Beaches that have "Click here to see a picture" are my entries. Last year, he spent some time in Avalon too.

I focus on looking for my friends in August since there isn't much else going on bird-wise and it gives me a break from the guests and whiny kids. Those friends will fade once Labor Day comes around and the kids are back in school but my bird friends will hang around until Oct or even into Nov. And more arrive every day. And they are joined by warblers and hawks and eagles too. Good times, good times.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Our Gang's Secret Spot

The birding "community" is like a giant school yard full of kids. Some you know, some you don't. Some have reputations, some are shy. Some are smart. Some are not so smart. There are cliques for sure but basically, there aren't any all out schoolyard fights. We know the cool kids but we aren't in their circle. We think the cool kids have their secret spots that they don't share with the community. Well thanks to our friend Yong, we now have our secret spot. Its not so secret but it is private property that we have permission to enter for birding purposes. 

Yong has been going on his own for some time now. He found a rare bird there a few weeks ago so Harvey and I decided to join him to see if we could refind the bird last Saturday. It was hot. Here are the guys - Yong, Harvey and Steve - and Peanut too. It started out pretty easy. 

The Gang
Then the path became more challenging. We had to bushwhack through high grasses and weeds along the dike. You can barely make out Steve's hat above the grass. Forget about trying to find Peanut. 

The Path
Once we got out to the end of the path, it opened up so that we could see the mudflats that the shorebirds love. We found a tagged bird - Semipalmated Sandpiper J5U. 

We also found this Wilson's Phalarope which is a pretty unexpected find in mudflats. We usually see these in more water.

Wilson's Phalarope

Wilson's Phalarope in flight
We gave up searching for Yong's rare bird and headed back down the dike. Of course, Harvey wasn't going to give up. And of course, he found the bird - Curlew Sandpiper. I swear he is charmed with this species. Unfortunately, I was the only one that got a photo of the bird. I swear, it is in this photo . . .

Curlew Sandpiper
Peanut had a great time in the mud.  She ran out and chased some birds which wasn't cool at all. She came back pretty quick. 

She also had fun running through the grass. 

The shorebirds whirled around just above our heads when the resident Peregrine Falcons from the last post flew by.

I have to say that the experience was great. And my gang is great. We are happy not to be part of the cool kids. We have our own fun at our own pace and even find some cool birds on our own. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Best Seat in the House

If you or I looked at a dead tree, we wouldn't think of it as the best place to sit. Maybe a branch would break. Too exposed. Full of bugs. That's just us though. To a bird - especially a bird of prey - a dead tree in the perfect place to perch. Great views of their prey. Lookout for foes. That's how it was in this particular tree out in the salt marsh.  Mrs. Peregrine must have thought "this looks like a great place to perch", so she landed.

Mr. Peregrine probably thought "hmmm. Mrs. Peregrine got the good perch again" and then decided that it was his turn so he swooped in. She initially put up a fuss.

But then he showed her is talons. Now she's thinking "what's with him?"

"Fine, have the perch. I'm outta here"

Now he's thinking "wow, this really IS a nice perch" To the victor, goes the spoils.

Here are some close ups. I was pretty far away, so these are super cropped. You can see that Mrs. Peregrine has bands on both ankles.

Here you can see that Mr. Peregrine is not banded.