Saturday, September 15, 2012

Back in the (Western) saddle

They did indeed let me go home last night.  I had planned on mostly relaxing on my couch today, but when Tim found a Western Sandpiper on the pier I couldn't not go after a bird that hasn't been seen in the county since the 90's.

Typically Western is one of the brighter peeps.  This one is a faded adult that's moulted its scapulars to winter gray but retains faded wings and a few black flecks along the flanks retained from breeding plumage.
While some Semipalmated sandpipers do have longish bills, I doubt any are quite as long as this birds.  No Semi has as nice a taper and droop.

A semi also won't have the flank flecks.  White-rumped could have that though it would have wings projecting past the tail, a reddish bill base and would lack the webbing of the toes that Western shares with Semi-palmated.
Dunlin would also lack the semi-palmations, would be a larger bird with an even heavier bill.  With the wings fully flared you can see a little rufous in the central scapulars even in the presumed winter plumage.

The bird mainly hung out with a flock of sanderlings that was moving back and forth between the beach and the piers.

This pic again ties my personal best 4 species in one frame at Tiscornia.  I think the last time I did it was with essentially the same species, just semi instead of Western

I'm now safely back on my couch where I should be able to stay for back to back football triple headers ... unless of course there's something requiring my attention at the pier.  Thanks to Tim for schlepping my scope (stupid 10 pound weight restriction). I was probably looking pretty pitiful shuffling along.

Friday, September 14, 2012

I don't need no stinkin appendix

This would be my inaugural blog from the hospital.  I only manged 2 hours at the lake watch yesterday, woke up feeling like crap but rallied with sotme tylenol and a nap and did get outfor a few hours at midday.  I don't honestly remember if we saw anything, one distant Bairds on the beach maybe.  I didn't get up for it.

Last night felt pain and pressure like I'd never felt before and bit the bullet and went into the hospital.  I don't get NFL network so was going to miss the Bears-Packers game; they do have it at the hospital.  Of course I was in surgery for the 2nd half, not that I missed much, but talk about an expensive ticket to watch a game.  Ah well.

I guess with still having the anesthesia meds and narcotics from yesterday in my system I'm not going to try to make this particularly cohesive.  And I guess I could really ID the stuff as anything and blame it on the drugs.  Tim's seen my ID skillz on no sleep; I could truly be impressive today. 

Anyway, a Philly V from Floral earlier this week

This Red-breasted Nuthatch actually tried to land on my back while I was standing still trying to photograph hummingbirds in the jewelweed with limited success.

Odes are winding down.  This would appear to be an Autumn Meadowhawk based on limited black streaking along the side, some black about the top of the end of the tail.  It was definitely smaller than the average  Ruby Meadowhawk (a few of which are still out).  It also has pale legs and different claspers (hamules?)

Finally a couple skippers, there's been loads of Fiery, European (I think), as well as some Duskies and Indigowings and Checkered-Skippers
Anyway, hopefully my white count comes down this afternoon and they let me go home, keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Happy 10th, Gull-nasty

The dark-mantled pseudo-kelp hybrid made its annual return to the Lake Michigan shoreline this morning.  It' been an adult since at least 2006 meaning it's at least 10 years old.

Nothing else has its honking bill, rattlesnake-like triangular head and long, long grey-green legs.
As usual it's molting its primaries. Here's the bird in 2011, 2010, 2009 and before.  Last year I emailed Steve Cardiff, one of the LSU researchers who studied the Chandeleur islands Herring-Kelp hybrids.  He said it wasn't one.

I actually have had a ton of good yearbirds in the 2 weeks or so  thanks to considerably expanded UTSJ counts.  A couple different Parasitic Jaegers, Long-tailed Jaeger, Eared Grebe, Whimbrel, Hudsonian Godwit, and Little Gull have all flown past, though most well past photo range.  This Little Gull came close, however it was on top of us before I picked it up and it quickly ducked into the Sun.
Tim immediately started chumming with bread but it never came back.  The closest we came was this young Bonapartes.
It actually has a Black-headed Gull like bit of color at the base of the bill.

For the first few hours today it was super calm.  Tim pointed out the spring peeper like noises in the background which were hundreds of Swainson's thrushes making their way inland high overhead.  As it was pretty calm birds weren't really falling out on the pier though their simple numbers were enough that there was a steady trickle of Palms down the pier.  We had double digit warbler species numbers in the park though the overwhelming majority were Palms.
A Sedge Wren popped out and then took refuge on the escape ladder on the pier's edge before flying off into the grass.
Tiscornia is really the only place I see these birds since they don't ever really seem to tee up for me on their breeding roadsides.