Sunday, May 20, 2018


Another year, another Birdathon.  I struggled with not enough sleep, but we had a good day overall.  Some birds a person has luck with, others a person doesn't.  I've had no luck with Kentucky this spring.  A lot of people have had it or them or (cough, cough, yellowthroats, just kidding) along Floral.  One was seen again yesterday a couple minutes before we came to the boardwalk.  We stood there for nearly 30 minutes; we didn't get it.  Least Bittern is always a hard bird.  Both my teammates heard it call once.  I didn't. (Fortunately it was when we went back this morning).  But a nemesis in the positive was this Whip-poor-will.  I'd honestly never seen one before, and despite having a couple (usually) reliable spots, they weren't singing in the nighttime rain.

Worm-eating Warbler can also be a hard bird.  Birdathon was a pretty late date this year allowing us to pin this one down to a territory a few days prior.

almost a mirror image Prothon from Brown

On the other end of the color scale, a female redstart at Tiscornia
We had Yellow-bellied Flycatcher a few places, this one was also at Tiscornia
Coupled with an Olive-sided, we did well on flycatchers (and had 28 warblers in addition).

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

chocolate-morph Ring-billed

Caleb put a photo of a Ring-billed Gull with all dark wings on the Facebook Gull page.  I happened into a pretty similar looking bird at Tiscornia this afternoon. 

Gulls are massing between the piers feeding on small fish; I assume steelhead heading out into the lake, but that's just a guess.  It's a great time of year to pick up Laughing or Franklins, and we have a few California Gull records for May (to say nothing of the Glaucous-winged) so this bird drew my eye.  Here's a montage of the individual at medium distance:

It circled around and flew past a couple times.
There's only a few gray feathers in the entire upperwing, and I'm not sure those aren't new feathers growing in.

A view of the underside:
It actually has a bit of a belly patch.

I know there's pics of Little Gulls like this in the books, but I'm not sure I've seen this variant illustrated for Ring-billed.

more warbs

It's spring. Spring is for warblers.  After the Brewster's Warbler a few days ago I've been tracking down the various winged warblers I hear at Floral.  Of course Golden-winged is one of my favorites anyway, so it's a payoff either way.

The birds are starting to be more dominated by the mid-migration birds.

But there's still a lot of the early passage birds about too.

If only this Swainson's was continuing the warbler theme.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Brewster's Warbler

After finding Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers just teeming at some of the lakeside parks there was hope that Floral would be hopping ... not so much.  Birds were coming in ones and twos when I noticed another birder (Ken Bishop) looking with interest at the LCD on his camera.  He saw me and walked up with an intensely curious expression on his face and purpose in his stride.  I was quite intrigued to see what would be on the LCD ... a Brewster's Warbler.  Having never seen one I was most definitely excited.  It was re-found about a minute later.

From above it looked pretty identical to a Golden-winged and would be easy to overlook if you didn't see the face.

The Blue-winged pattern comes out while looking up at it. 

I doubt there's many Brewster's flight shots out there.

Surprisingly I've seen 3 or 4 Lawrence's (most recently last year at Chikaming), the F2 backcross between Brewster's and one of the parents, but never the F1 hybrid.

More warblers, these ones from earlier at Lincoln Twp Beach.

I went back to Floral in the afternoon, there were a ton of silent Ovenbirds.

It's been a really good spring for Orange-crowned, this one was from Tiscornia.

Finally a couple shots of spring migrants with the Marsh Marigolds that are currently in peak bloom.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

May 1 is Catbird Day

You can literally set your calendar by catbirds returning to Floral on May 1.  Having done a number of April 30 big days over the years I can tell you it's a tough, tough bird April 30.  You have to beat them off with sticks May 1.  Even with a cold spring it was no different today.

A Sedge Wren at the end of the cul-de-sac yesterday was a little more interesting though.

Winter Wrens are still around.

But May is for warblers right?  Orange-crowned has been fairly prominent this year.
Jan pointed this one out to Tim and me at Galien Twp park.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

when Warblers are Waterbirds

Who doesn't like a nice blue background behind their subjects?  Usually for warblers that's blue sky.  But when spring is cold (news flash, spring has been cold), the insectivores stay close to water where there may be more bugs.  There was a nice flock of yellow-rumps along North Lake in Grand Mere, and many were foraging low hoping to find some emergent insect.  I couldn't tell how much success they were having, but it reached high 50's today, so hopefully they did better in the afternoon.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

into the lowlands

After a few days birding the highlands and mid-elevations we dropped down to Rio Silanche.  A little rain fell as we arrived, but mostly it was a day for sunscreen.  The birds were new.

Swallow Tanager is a fairly unique bird that I knew we had at least a shot at in Panama last year.  We didn't find it there but we did see it briefly here.

Pacific Antbird is another bird that is in the Central American books but we'd never seen.

We saw a few Hook-billed Kites here at these lower elevations, I think I'd seen 2 in my life before this walk

In addition to Swallow Tanager, there were a number of Dacnises (currently lumped with tanagers though this bird acted more like a chickadee) that were only possible for us here.  This is a female Yellow-tufted Dacnis that was one of the highlight birds for me on this walk.

Hornero's are open field birds that struck me as a cross between a Killdeer and a robin.

Finally a view of a female Thick-billed Seedfinch.