Wednesday, May 27, 2015

More Yard Birds

1. hairy Woodpecker-kab Hairy Woodpecker in yard 3-31-15

These are a few of the birds I have seen in my yard as winter has transitioned into spring. Species names and dates they were seen are noted below each photograph.

2. goldfinch feb25-kab American Goldfinch 2-25-15

3. chickadee march16-kab Black-capped Chickadee 3-16-15

4. robin in snow-kab American Robin 3-16-15

5. redwing-kab Red-winged Blackbird 3-17-15

6. starling-kab European Starling 3-24-15

7. chickadee-kab Black-capped Chickadee 3-24-15

8. Common Redpoll-kab Common Redpoll 3-24-15

On this date this bird became a rare bird in my yard. However, I continued to see redpolls until April 12!

9. NOCA-kab Northern Cardinal 3-24-15

On March 31 as I came home from counting birds at the boat launch I saw something in my back yard tree where some of my bird feeders hang.

10. hiding-kab Do you see what I see?


11. Cooper's hawk Adult Cooper’s Hawk 3-31-15

Cooper’s Hawks stalked my bird feeders all winter. I saw both juveniles and adults. One even ate my only Hermit Thrush that was hanging around my yard for a little over two weeks in January and early February. I paused in my steps but this bird was so focused on finding food it didn’t even notice me, or care if it did see me. It jumped down onto the ground and started walking around in search of prey.

12. walking bird-kab It even ran into the thicket hoping to catch a bird, but they were long gone!

I’m afraid this bird went hungry this time!


Monday, May 25, 2015

Salisbury Beach Birding

DSC_0476 Common Loon 3-29-15

On March 29, 2015 I stopped by Salisbury Beach State Reservation in Massachusetts on my way home from dropping Gus off to get his new car in New Hampshire. It was my first time out of the state since my surgery in December and my dislocated shoulder in January. I was on my own and by myself and loving it! It had been so long since I have counted birds at Salisbury Beach! In fact, the last time I was here was on January 24, 2012! I was hoping to see a Northern Mockingbird here since I had not seen one yet this year and I often saw them alongside the road on my way in, but no luck today.

2. River estuary-kab This place is so iconic that I thought I had been here several times, but in checking my records, I have only birded here 4 other times when I lived in Andover, MA! So, I was quite happy to be back today, though it was a bit cold and VERY windy!

3. gulls on ramp-kab I started by watching birds down by the mouth of the river where the boat ramp is. The tide was out and some of the marsh was revealed as sand bars and mud flats. It was while I was standing here alongside my car with bins and camera in hand that a woman drove up to me and asked if I knew why so many people were walking out into the march with spotting scopes and cameras. I told her I didn’t know for sure but it might be because there was a snowy owl out there as they are often seen in this location. She looked at me like i was nuts and said, “No, I don’t think they would do that for an owl, it must be a fox or something!” Then she drove off.

4. herring gull-kab I took a photo of a Herring Gull on the pier, then continued on my way to the beach. As I rounded the bend near the backside of the restrooms I noticed a large gathering of people with cameras and spotting scopes all pointed at a tree right beside the road. When I looked up I saw what they were looking at, and it was what I expected. I found a spot to park and joined the birding paparazzi. I wondered if the woman who questioned me was among the onlookers gazing at this snowy owl!

5. snowy owl-kab Snowy Owl, Salisbury Beach State Reservation 3-29-15

My First of the Year and the only Snowy Owl I have seen so far this year!

6. beach-kab Down at the beach the waves rolled in, but there were no sandpipers.


7. breakwater-kab Great Cormorants gathered on this structure soaking up the sun.


8. great cormorants-kab Great Cormorants


9. loon family-kab A family of loons drifted down the river mouth towards the open sea.


10. young loons-kab Young Common Loons


11. young loon-kab Young Common Loon

12. adult loon-kab Adult Common Loon

In the end I only counted 22 species of birds here on this day but I added 11 species to my Life List for this location for a total of 40 species I have seen here! I guess I need to come back more often!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Common Redpolls

1. Redpoll-kab Common Redpoll in my yard 3-16-15

Earlier this year I had my first ever Common Redpolls in my yard. They first showed up on January 11th and I recorded the last one here on April 12, at least 2 weeks past the time they should have left. While I was listing these birds every day, it was surprising to me to see that on March 23rd they were expected to be here, and the next day they became a rare bird and were flagged on my ebird list!

2. CORE on feeder-kab While they started out with just one or two birds, their population soon swelled until I was seeing two dozen on a regular basis with a high count of 90 birds on March 19th! Starting April 1st I saw 5 or less individual birds each day until April 12th. Then they were gone. These photos were taken between February 3rd and March 16th. I have several feeders in my yard and as you can see the birds moved around from location to location and feeder to feeder.

3. Redpoll Feb 25-kab When the redpolls first showed up I searched and searched for a rare Hoary Redpoll among them. Hoary Redpolls are described as being paler with a frosty look, and having a stubby beak that looks like a punched in face and they are only supposed to have three or less streaks on their rumps. There were times that I thought I saw one, but I never got a photo. Then I read a few articles that suggested they may not be a different species after all, but just a color variation of the same bird species, or a sub-species. There is talk of lumping them all together. Once I read that, I just gave up looking for a Hoary Redpoll and just enjoyed the birds! (See links below)

4. redpolls feb25-kab As you look through these photos notice the variation in color among the birds.


5. under the dome-kab These small finches seemed to like sunflower and nyjar seed the best.


6. in the snow-kab 

7. ground feeding-kab 

8. snowbirds-kab 

9. common redpolls-kab 

10. redpoll-kab 

11. in tree-kab 

12. redpoll-kab I hope they come back next year!


13. Common Redpolls-kab Common Redpolls alongside my driveway 3-16-15


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Family Time

1. kids at boat launch 5-16-15Grandkids at the Mere Point Boat Launch May 16, 2015

Last weekend the grandkids came to visit with their Mom and Dad. Chris made us chicken enchiladas while the kids went out to play. They found over a dozen starfish down at the boat launch. I joined them over there and counted birds. I also found two mother seals with pups on the rocks across the bay! The kids enjoyed watching them through my binoculars. It’s always fun to share nature with my grandkids and these three in particular just love it!

2. Starfish 5-16-15 Mere Point Boat launch Brooklyn holds a starfish for me on Saturday night.

3. Brooklyn with snake 5-17-15 On Sunday morning she found a garter snake in the yard.

4. Garter snake in yard 5-17-15 The snake was released unharmed after this photo op!

5. grampa trains his grandsons 5-17-15 While Brooklyn and I admired the snake, Gus was teaching his grandsons how to wash his car. The boys were more than happy to help! After this, they each got a ride in the car.

6. Cam gets the job done 5-17-15 Good job, boys!

On a sad note, my daughter's dog passed away in her sleep on Tuesday night from kidney failure. I have only gotten to know Widigt since my daughter moved back to Maine with her husband last fall. I have never been around boxers before but Widigt quickly won me over. She was such a sweet dog; joyful and playful, but calm. I loved that she was not a barker, yet she was protective of Renee if necessary. We are all going to miss her. Renee was here on Tuesday and Widgit was shivering from the cold, so Renee wrapped her up in a blanket like a doggie burrito while I turned up the heat. She looked so cute that I snapped this picture of her. Little did I know it would be her last.

7. Widgit 5-20-15Good-bye sweet Widgit. Rest in Peace.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Parking Lot Birding at the Physical Therapist Office

1. 5-18-15b small pond Small Pond by parking lot 5-19-15

Anyone who knows me knows that I carry my binoculars everywhere I go and very often my camera. Ever since starting physical therapy earlier this year after I dislocated my shoulder I started counting birds that I saw from the parking lot of 430 Bath Road in Brunswick, Maine. The office and parking lot sit on a small hill overlooking a valley with the New Meadows River just north of it and the Androscoggin just beyond the rise to the west I often see a variety of bird species here.

2. starlings and pileated woodpecker-kab Late in March I pulled into the parking lot one day to only to see a magnificent Pileated Woodpecker in a tree as well as some of the first starlings I had seen this year! I was glad I had my camera and was able to snap a few shots!

3. pileated wood-kab Pileated Woodpecker 3-24-15 Bath Road in Brunswick, ME

4. pileated-kab When it flew off into the nearby woods I took another photo!

Now that spring is here I am seeing even more birds. while I often saw Eagles and even ducks flying over during the winter and early spring, now I see osprey and turkey vultures as well as numerous seagulls at times. When I was there on Tuesday I heard and then saw chestnut-sided warblers and Common Yellowthroats.

5. flowering tree 430 bath road 5-18-15a Many of the birds flew into this exploding pink flowering tree!

It was at the edge of the meadow below, which was at the edge of the parking lot!

6. little meadow 430 Bath Road 5-18-15

Here is a list of the birds I have seen at this location:

  1. Blue Jay 2-11-15
  2. American Crow
  3. Ring-billed Gull 2-13-15
  4. Bald Eagle 2-23-15
  5. Mallard 3-24-15
  6. Mourning Dove
  7. Pileated Woodpecker
  8. Black-capped Chickadee
  9. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  10. European Starling
  11. Northern Cardinal
  12. Red-winged Blackbird
  13. House Finch
  14. Turkey Vulture 3-31-15
  15. Red-bellied Woodpecker 4-3-15
  16. Downy Woodpecker
  17. Hairy Woodpecker
  18. Common Raven
  19. Tufted Titmouse
  20. White-breasted Nuthatch
  21. Song Sparrow
  22. Common Grackle
  23. Canada Goose 4-7-15
  24. Osprey
  25. American Robin
  26. Great Blue Heron 4-9-15
  27. Herring Gull
  28. American Kestrel
  29. Eastern Phoebe 4-14-15
  30. Northern Flicker 4-17-15
  31. Pine Warbler
  32. Brown-headed Cowbird
  33. Tree Swallow 4-24-15
  34. Wood Duck 4-30-15
  35. Chipping Sparrow
  36. American Goldfinch
  37. Ovenbird 5-11-15
  38. Black-throated Green Warbler
  39. Red-tailed Hawk 5-18-15
  40. Great Crested Flycatcher
  41. Blue-headed Vireo
  42. Gray Catbird
  43. Common Yellowthroat
  44. Chestnut-sided Warbler

As you can see, parking lot birding can pay off big time! I love to count birds where no one else does and fill in the blanks of the eBird data. It is amazing how many birds species live with and around us and so many people never even notice all this Life that is happening nearby!