Wednesday, June 29, 2011

June 27 Article About The Movie "The Big Year"

  Jim Williams wrote an article in the StarTribune about the upcoming movie "The Big Year". You can read it: here.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Biking, & Birds With A Bad Reputation

     I had a couple of old bikes that had been sitting around for years collecting dust. I decided to bring them to a local bike shop to see if I could get a few bucks for them but instead, I ended up walking out with a new bike. I hadn't ridden a bike since I became spoiled by the ease and comfort of driving my first car. I wasn't concerned with exercise or high gas prices in those days but times have changed.

  My free time for birding has been limited this month but I've been able to maximize this time by using the bike for short, local trips. The top photo was taken along the East Hampton portion of the rail trail. I was hoping to capture a nice photo of a Black-throated Green Warbler there. They hang out in the evergreens that border the edge of the trail. I had a good opportunity when a BT-Green landed on a branch in plain view. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that I was in auto mode and was trying to manual focus so I missed my chance. I'm still trying to figure out how to coordinate the use of my binoculars and camera while riding a bike. On the plus side, it only took me 10 minutes to bike out there instead of the hour it would have taken if I had to walk the trail.

      I took this photo of a male Brown-headed Cowbird over near the Rocky Hill Ferry. The cowbird has a bad reputation because they lay their eggs in the nests of other species and let them raise their young. 
  
I also found this male House Sparrow making itself at home on a pier near the launch site of the ferry. Many birders don't like the House Sparrow because it isn't a native species and they often take over nesting sites of other native species such as the Eastern Bluebird. If the House Sparrow is still in The United States a thousand years from now will they finally be forgiven for being introduced here?
  I found this Black Vulture munching on some raccoon jerky along route 66 in Portland. Some may look at vultures as harbingers of death but they provide a valuable service by cleaning up roadkill free of charge!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fuzzy Fledgling Sandpiper At The Meadows

I spent some time at Wangunk Meadow this weekend where I compiled a list of species with the intention of submitting it to ebird. the highlight of my morning was to have this fuzzy little fledgling scurry right across the trail I was walking on.  
A few seconds later an adult Spotted Sandpiper emerged from hiding to let me know that I was an intruder so I quickly moved on. The female Spotted Sandpiper is the one who arrives on breeding grounds first to establish and defend territory. The male takes the primary role of parental care during nesting while the female finds other males to breed with. The female gets involved again during the fledgling stage- so maybe this is the female? 
 
There were several Empidonax flycatchers around. I've heard that the best way to tell a Willow Flycatcher from an Alder is by its call so I videotaped several of the calls I heard. One of the calls could clearly be identified as a Willow Flycatcher. The other calls I recorded were different from what I found on the Internet so I can't be sure of their identity. The bird in this photo shows very little eye ring. I'm guessing it's probably a willow.  

Friday, June 3, 2011

Acadian Flycatchers Have Arrived On The Scene

It was only about 3 years ago that I took the time to learn the call of the Acadian Flycatcher. I found out that its call which is referred to by other birders as the "pizza" call did not sound that way to me. I would describe it as sounding like a chipmunk with the hiccups. Since familiarizing myself with its call, I have been able to hear a couple of them each year.


    The photo, which was taken in Meshomasic Forest, represents the first good look I've had of one outside of my field guide. The Acadian Flycatcher is the largest of the Empidonax flycatchers. You can see the greenish color along with the prominent wing bars and eye ring. The next day, I came across three more of them. I found one in a different part of Meshomasic Forest, one on the rail trail in East Hampton, and  another on the outer edge of Hurd Park. There must be a good crop of them this year!
 
Just curious, does anyone know what kind of flower this is?
 
I don't always pay close attention to butterflies while birding but there were a lot of them near the reservoir on Tuesday. Most were Eastern Tiger Swallowtails and Spicebush Swallowtails. I noticed one of them didn't have a long tail like the others. I looked it up on-line and believe it's a Red-spotted Purple which would be a new one for me.
                                           video
                                                                     click to play
   I managed to capture a brief clip of the Acadian Flycatcher during one of its peet-sah calls.