Monday, January 25, 2010

Total Species 95 Thanks To A Rain Turkey

I was optimistic that I might reach 100 species by the end of weekend. My total was at 89 for the month and I only needed 11 more to reach my goal.

On Saturday, I attended a field trip that concentrated on finding gulls . I was surprised when a group of about 30 birders showed up. I was hoping to pick up a species or two and to learn a little bit more about gulls in the process. It's going to take me a long time before I become any better at gull identification because I can only take it in small doses. Nice weather, socializing with other birders, and a good field trip leader made the trip enjoyable. The trip took place at Windsor Landfill. We had a great view of a pair of Bald Eagles that were perched in a tree at the edge of the landfill. I was able to add Glaucous Gull to my January list. It was basically an all white gull with a black tipped bill which you can see even in this distant photo. I think it looks like Snoopy's head attached to a pair of gull wings. The white object might be a UFO-(unidentified flying ornithologist from another planet).
On Sunday, I went back to Hammonasset for another visit. There were dozens of Yellow-rumped Warblers throughout the park. They are nice to look at but they distract me from finding other birds. After a while I lose patience trying to check through every yellow-rump to see if another warbler is mixed in with the flock.
I knew that I wouldn't leave Hammonasset empty handed. I was able to add Black-bellied Plover (above), American Bittern, Common Eider, and Great Horned Owl. The owl was being mobbed mercilessly by a murder of Crows. It flew from one side of Willard's Island to the other several times. I found an eider which had some striking black and white markings, particularly in the face. I had been hearing about a King Eider in the area but this one didn't seem to match the description of a King Eider. When I took a closer look in the field guide, I realized this it was a Common Eider, not a King Eider. The female was swimming right along side him. This was the first close-up view that I've ever had of a Common Eider. I took today off hoping that I might get in a little local birding. Unfortunately, the forecast called for heavy rain for the entire day. I woke up early anyway, and was able to get 2 hours of birding in before the rain really started coming down. I took an early morning walk through Hurd Park hoping that I might come across a Brown Creeper. If a creeper made a sound from any direction within 50 feet of me I was ready for it. I gave myself a false alarm when the zipper from my vest made a jingling creeper-like sound. After an hour of walking through the rain soaked woods, I came up empty. Not a creeper was stirring, not even a titmouse.

-I decided to change my strategy. Instead of walking though the woods, I would drive past large open fields out in the country. I was sure that I would eventually come across a turkey if I drove past enough fields. I saw deer, crows, even pet Mallards, but not a single turkey.
I finally decided to give up and go back home defeated. When I returned, what did I find standing in the front yard of a nearby house? You guessed it! -number 95-Wild Turkey!

-Although, I didn't reach 100 this weekend, I still have another chance to reach my goal next weekend. My wish list includes: Ruby-crowned kinglet, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Field Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Brown Creeper and whatever might turn up.

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It was back in November that I was fortunate enough to discover a Red-headed Woodpecker in Northwest Park. He finally became number 90 on my January list this weekend after two failed attempts. It didn't seem to be bothered by the attention of other birders as it went about its business of searching for food in the top of a tree. I haven't been a able to get a decent photograph of the bird but did manage to capture a short video.


Chris said...

Hi Larry,
Well done on the 95 species. A pity you did not get a king eider.... If you want I can send you some, there are three of them here, but still did not manage to see them...
I guess the easiest way to ID common and king eider is not only the colors of the plumage but also the little bump above the bill... It's not that big on the immature and female, but when you get use to it, you can see it ;-)

Dan Huber said...

Larry, great pictures and post. I also have a real tough time seeing the differences in gulls. I am hoping to hit the sat. trip to hammonassett 1/30 to learn more and meet folks


Ruth said...

If you don't reach 100 it won't be for lack of trying. I saw my first Glaucous Gull last week (ID'd by another birder) and supposedly there are Iceland gulls in the same area. They are challenging for me too. I have seen lots of Wild Turkeys and Brown Creepers, but I doubt there is a warbler anywhere north of the Great Lakes.

Larry said...

Chris-Yes-The lack of any kind of bump on the nose was one of the things that I noticed.I have other birds I need you to send me now.

forestal-Hope you enjoy yourself.I think Adrian is leading that trip. He is the field trip committee leader.

Ruth-There must be a Snow-crowned Ice Warbler or two in the area.I am trying but there are others in the state who have already exceeded 120 so I must not be trying hard enough.

Jayne said...

95! Wow Larry, that's impressive! I do hope you get that last five this weekend!

Larry said...

Jayne-thanks-I just noticed that I wrote that I had found a Red-bellied Woodpecker in Northwest Park-Make that a Red-headed Woodpecker.That's what too much work will do to you.

Lana Gramlich said...

You know, even if you don't make 100, you've done fantastically! I envy you your dedication. I've been pretty good about getting my eBird reports in, at least (although mostly just sightings from my back door.)
Go figure on the turkey! You sent it out "into the universe" & it came home to roost. ;)

steadyjohn said...

". Not a creeper was stirring, not even a titmouse."

Great line Larry!

Larry said...

Lana-Just for fun Lana-Why not give us a tally of the birds you saw in January.Loggin your sightings on to e-bird is good and more meanigful though.The trukey reminds me of a time when deer hunters had no luck in getting any deer out in the woods.When they came home the deer were in their yard.

Steadyjon-you caught that one -A little late for Christmas though.

Warren and Lisa Strobel said...

Larry! Great work ... where are you now? Last weekend in January -- what are you looking for?

Larry said...

Warren and Lisa-I am still at 95 going into this weekend.I've been working two jobs so the weekend is the only real time for me to actively search for birds but of course I'm always looking if I have to drive anywhere during the day.It is going to be bitterly cold this weekend. M hope is to hit at least 101 which pass my last year's total of 100.

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Larry said...

Sure I'll check out your blog.