Thursday, June 3, 2021

an Oasis

 Day 4 in Mexico found us on the border of the desert state of Oaxaca and the more riparian (and tropical) state of Chiapas.  A small mountain-like escarpment shielded a waterfall from much of the sun.  A bottlebrush tree was in bloom and it attracted my eyes too quickly to remember to take a scenery shot.

Just about the first bird I saw was a Rosita's (Rose-bellied) Bunting.

We'd see some in brighter light later in the morning, but we were happy to see this one.  There were a few hummers, including Canivet's Emerald and Green-fronted Hummingbird, but it was too dark to get pics worth posting.

Streak-backed Orioles were working the bottlebrush as well.


They weren't all brilliantly colored.  One was a bird I was looking forward to, Nutting's Flycatcher.  It's one of the myarchids that all look pretty similar, but the inverse Western Kingbird tail pattern separates it from Ash-throated.

Ok back to colorful ones.  It's been a few years since I've seen White-throated Magpie-Jay.


Finally a view of a female White-lored Gnatcatcher; the gray desert gnatcatchers always surprise me after being so used to Blue-Gray.


Sunday, May 23, 2021

Spring warbs

It's rule #7 of the bird blogger bylaws that you must do a spring warbler post! 

This is the first decent portrait I've ever taken of a Cerulean.


Cerulean is actually pretty closely related to Blackburnian, though you wouldn't know it from this angle (now if I had a female sideways the similarities might start showing better).

Last year I did pretty well with Blackpolls, and they were pretty common this year too.

Black-throated Blue is likely on most peoples favorite list (though that's generally a pretty long list).

I thought I was finally learning Blue-headed Vireo's song this year ... but then half the time they would turn out to be Yellow-throateds.  No problems with silent birds.

Aaaaaand the opposite of spring warblers, spring cowbirds, blecccchhh.




Sunday, May 16, 2021

Don't look ... oh wait, Look!

 We all know how challenging the north winds for most of the last 3 weeks have been, so when they relented the day before Birdathon we couldn't help but breathe a sigh of relief.  The day before Birdathon Floral was filled with birds ... but you had to figure out where to look.

First rule of birdathon (OK, it's not the first rule, but work with me here):  Don't look at Catbirds.


On scouting morning, second rule was: Don't look at white-throated sparrows
There were hordes of them, and time spent on them could be better spent on more likely candidates for rarities.  Of course that second night of south winds meant that the White-throats exited stage north and we had to work to find a single one on Birdathon day.  They'd flown! (kinda like the White-eyed Vireo that had been hanging out).

Of course one of the reasons not to look at WT Sparrows was that you needed to home in instead on other birds a person might need.  Like (this year), thrushes.  Up until Birdathon day I'd seen one (!!!) Swainson's Thrush this spring, and zero Gray-cheeks.  So it was a bit of a relief that Gray-cheeked was pretty easy on the big day.

Unlike the White-throats, White-crowns stuck around in decent numbers.

Unlike the warblers which has mostly bailed.  We had to work to find even many of the common ones.

The one bird we didn't have to work for?  Least Bittern.  It's a bird that can't be expected, or really even planned for.  So we were pretty happy when a Least jumped into the scope view as we looked at a Coot at the dump pond.  And we were flabbergasted when we found a second one later in the day (with more bonus moorhens to boot!)

The theme of the day might have been trading birds.  We didn't find a Prairie Warbler ... but a Summer Tanager was pitty-tucking where the Prairie was supposed to be.

Tiscornia gave its frequent contribution of a 3 bird bump.  One of them is almost always RB Merg.  There weren't any mergs ... but both black-backed gulls were present.  I doubt we've ever had both black-backs on Birdathon.



At any rate, it was a very enjoyable day.  While we didn't break any records, I'd had the best sleep the day before that I've had pre-Birdathon in years for which I was very grateful, and no doubt contributed the much more relaxed feel.




Saturday, May 8, 2021

portraits in the marsh

There weren't a ton of migrants around this morning so fun local breeders were the highlights.

I haven't been hearing moorhens in the morning listens so it was nice to find a pair near the golf course.


Marsh Wrens were singing prominently as well.

The teal were following the color theme (what's all this spring green crap?  we want brown!)

And a Palm Warbler that's probably my best pic this spring.




Saturday, May 1, 2021

sometimes they come to you

 I had to sleep all day today and when I got up it was warm and windy.  I spent a couple hours weeding garlic mustard in the park next to my house thinking I might come across one of the elusive catbirds or rose-breasted grosbeak or May thrushes that were blowing up my eBird needs alerts while I slept.

No luck there, but karma rewarded my efforts when I looked out the window after dinner and saw a young Summer Tanager following an oriole to the oranges on my feeder.

It sat long enough for me to grab the camera that lives in front of the window, blast half a dozen frames, realize the settings were completely buggered, crank the ISO up, blast another 5 frames ... and gone.  I think I can count on one hand the number of times I've encountered Summer Tanager in Michigan without actively seeking it out and maybe once where I didn't find it by hearing it first.

A few other pics from mornings earlier in the week.  This parula would have been a sweet pic if it had poked its head out a little further.


And this Black and White would have been fun if it had come into the redbud in the foreground

This Solitary Sandpiper in the stream at Kesling though was a decidedly more photogenic setting than their typical poop pond habitats.

And finally a montage of a kestrel that hovered in front of me in the dunes while hawk-watching earlier in the week...



Tuesday, April 27, 2021

They're looking at us

 and we're looking at them!  Some of them at any rate.

I led the BBC outing this morning, and it started off kinda slow.  Topinabee, and to a lesser extent Weiser Road, didn't have a ton of activity.

The Niles Riverwalk on the other hand did have migrants.  Dawn spotted this Black-and-white Warbler who looks to be peering back at us...



Continuing the black-and-white theme, my county annual Red-headed Woodpecker was the next bird we saw.

We checked the hawks that flew over after a decent push of broad-wings yesterday.  One was indeed a broad-wing (though the pic is actually from yesterday).

Finally a look at one of the Yellow-rumps I saw as I walked back.

Next week, Chikaming!


Monday, April 19, 2021

Colima Pygmy-Owl

I suppose I could have titled the post My Most Frustrating Great Look at a bird ever.

Evening of Day 3 found us in some dry forest scrub after spending the afternoon driving east towards the border of Oaxaca and Chiapas.  Alex found a couple of Cinnamon-tailed Sparrows, a bird I just could not get a decent look at.  I kept getting an elbow, branch, or head in the way every time I sort of saw the bird.  It didn't help that the little double malar mark, the field mark I'd learned for the bird, was quite a bit harder to see than I expected.

A western type Redtail soared out
I managed to spot a White-tailed Hawk, a bird I thought might be more common than it was.  This individual was the only one we saw.

I don't remember how I managed to lag behind the group a little, I think Alex started playing a tape at a Ferruginous Pygmy Owl that was really far away and I was distracted by something that seemed closer, but when I caught up they were looking at something.  They said it was the pygmy-owl.  It took forever to find the bird, it was quite close but the same color as the dusk lit surroundings and a bit higher than I thought.  Usually I'm pretty good at looking at the angle of people's bins and gauging where to look, but I was failing utterly.  When I eventually found the bird it looked way different that I expected.  Because it wasn't Ferruginous, it was Colima Pygmy-Owl!  Whoops.  Keep up with the group.


We stayed past dark hoping to hear Buff-collared Nightjar, which maybe Alex heard.  Finally a view of one of the Mottled Owls that came in to the Black-and-White track he was playing.