Monday, March 31, 2008

Lisa's Eyes

are happy. And so are her ears!

BirdCouple saw and heard lots of great birds Sunday morning, and it was worth getting up at 4:30 a.m. for the Anne Arundel Bird Club's annual "Woodcock walk," led by our friend Kathie Lambert.

We saw Blue-Winged Teal, Green-Winged Teal, Ring-Necked Duck, Eastern Phoebe and lots more at Wooten's Landing, in south county.

Oh, almost forgot the Bluebirds:

We heard a pair of Great Horned Owls calling back and forth in the moonlit dawn just before sunrise. Magical. Also heard a Barred Owl calling. And yes, there were Woodcocks, although it seemed to be a bit too late in March to see their crazy, aerobatic flying and mating display.

Dan Haas used his iPhone and speakers to get a Virginia Rail to call out from the marsh. A life bird for BirdCouple!

The Red-Winged Blackbirds were calling out on their territory, red-orange epaulettes flashing brightly. A reminder that it is time to celebrate spring. But first.... BirdCouple needed a nap.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Strange Feeder Visitor

March 27 update: Looks like our poor fellow has Finch conjunctivitis. Not fatal, but very contagious. BirdCouple's feeders are down for now.... Thanks to everyone who helped ID the problem.

This poor little fellow showed up at our feeder this morning. It looks to me like an American Goldfinch, but something's wrong. Is it just a case of aberrent plumage? Is the bird ill? Is it just a flegdling?

Please post comments or ideas!

Here are two more photos:

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hangin' Around the House

House Finch
Well, not exactly the house. But BirdCouple decided to spend Easter Sunday close to home, within the borders of our home county, Anne Arundel, to be exact. It was a lovely sunny Easter day, and without trying too hard, we saw 45 species of birds, learned a little bit more about nature, and still made it home in time to do some spring cleaning and have dinner, which Lisa is calling me to right now.

Back in a sec.

Northern Mockingbird

Easter Dinner. Yumm-y! OK, back to blogging. We saw LOTS of Northern Mockingbirds out at Greenbury Point in Annapolis. Greenbury Point has the only known population of Northern Bobwhite left in Anne Arundel County....

Bufflehead, male

Lots of other birds were out and about around Greenbury Point, including this rather dapper-looking Bufflehead.

Mute Swan

We journeyed on to Fort Smallwood Park, where Sue Ricciardi, the inestimable compiler of the Hawk Watch graciously allowed us to join her for an hour. We learned an incredible amount just listening to her and watching her. Along with the raptors, most of which were migrating northward over us at heights too high for photography, other birds floated on by. Like this Mute Swan. (Look closely and you can see it's just been taking a drink). And some Bonaparte's Gulls.

Bonaparte's Gull

This was a new Anne Arundel County bird for us. So was the pair of Gadwalls we saw. (Not pictured).

Finally, it was time to head back to the BirdCouple's Love Nest....


Wednesday, March 19, 2008


The world's newest bird species. Or, shall, we say, the world's newest discovered bird species.

This is the Togian White-eye. (We know, the illustration shows no white eye-ring, but who said bird names ever made sense?) It was discovered a few years ago, and recently confirmed, on a handful of remote islands in Indonesia. Indonesia has about 1,600 of the world's 10,000 bird species. Let's go there, kids!!

More on the discovery here.

While we're on the subject of world birding, let's check in on some of our favorite listers.

Peter Kaestner racked up life bird number 8,145 last month, a Malabar Pied Hornbill in India.

Those folks doing "The Biggest Twitch" are at the halfway point in their quest to break the single-year record of bird species seen in a year. It stands at 3,662. They have seen 1,835 species in 2008 so far. Good luck Alan and Ruth.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

No Horseshoe Crabbing In NJ this Spring!

This wonderful news and the confusing political drama behind it comes from our friend at the DC Birding Blog.

Red Knots Rejoice!

Red Knots are long distance migrant champions traveling each spring from southern South America to the Arctic regions of Canada.

One of their final refueling stops is along the Delaware Bay coast, where they gorge on horseshoe crab eggs before embarking on the their 4,000 mile non-stop journey to the Arctic.

Since the 1990's, populations of Red Knots have declined drastically as horseshoe crab harvesting increased.

And, today, more good news via the New Jersey Audubon Society:

"New Jersey legislators overwhelmingly pass legislation to save the Red Knot and other shorebirds from extinction. The legislation will protect the critical shorebird food supply – Horseshoe Crab eggs - by banning the harvest of Horseshoe Crabs in NJ. The bill now moves to the desk of Governor Jon Corzine who has been a strong proponent for conservation of the Red Knot and horseshoe crab"

Big Smile....!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Done with Ducks.

Okay, we really, really, REALLY have spring fever. How could you not after a weekend like this one?

Nothing personal ducks - that means you dabbling ducks, geese, swans, divers, etc, etc. All of ya. It's been real. We love ya. Thanks for a fabulous fall and winter. But now it's ... well, it's like this. Time to move on, guys and gals. The tundra is calling you. See ya again in October. Happy family-making.

Us humans need warmth and sunshine and long days. And new sights, like this:

The Osprey arrived in force from South America over the last week. One set up shop (hopefully with a mate) just down the road from us on a powerline tower. I photographed the above bird at Smallwood State Park, a very lovely and sort of out-of-the-way park along the Potomac River in Charles County, MD.
Back to the ducks. They KNOW it's time to hit the road. Here's a Horned Grebe, as proof. This fella is starting to break into spring plumage. Wow! How 'bout that red eye?

Sadly, Princess was unable to join me Sunday. I hate it when I see really cool stuff, and can't share it with her.
So I felt a tad guilty about this...

A RED-HEADED WOODPECKER! A beautiful bird, and not always easy to find. This one was exactly where she was supposed to be... on a tall dead tree in the middle of a bottomland swamp.

The woodpecker kept going into this hole in the snag, its tail sticking out. I think it was feeding some little one inside!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Before we leave winter behind...

Even Mourning Doves can be beautiful...

A Red-Shouldered Hawk from
Christmas Bird Count day.

American Goldfinches will soon be back
in their summery finery.

SPRING is 5 Days Away!!!!!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Carbon-Neutral Birding = Bigbying!

Cute Husband and I love the idea of The Big Green Big Year (BGBY)!

Bigbying was dreamed up by The Sparroworkers, and is simply a Big Year where you only count the birds seen within walking or within self propelled distance from your home or work.

You only count birds seen while not burning fossil fuels. Birds seen while walking, biking, kayaking, skiing all count, but if you are not propelling yourself, the bird doesn't make the list.

There is also a Public Transport Bigby which allows you to count the birds seen at your favorite birding site if you travel there by bus or rail and return in a similiar fashion.

Cute Hubby and I (along with most of the birders we know) love to jump in the car at the first report of some unusual species across the state or within a reasonable (reasonable is very difficult to define in this context) driving distance.

By birding Bigby style, we are reminded of the impact our little adventures have on big planet Earth.

Ready for another list, Cute Husband?
W: Yes, darling. Readers can now find our BIGBY count over on the right bar..

Sunday, March 9, 2008

We Don't Care What the Calendar Says...

The peepers are calling, the Ospreys are coming back, flowers are starting to bloom...............

It is Spring!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Day in Full

One of the things we love about birding is that you can go out looking for something rare and/or new, not see it - and still have a wonderful day with friends, see really cool things in nature and learn a lot.

That was the case this past Sunday when BirdCouple headed up the Susquehanna (hmm did I spell that right?) River with Ross Geredien, he of Good Migrations, and Dan Haas, whose Web site is Nervous Birds. (We're not quite sure why that name).

We dipped, as they say, on unusual gulls we were hoping for. Ditto owls. There weren't even that many raptors:

Did we have a bad day then? Heck no! We found a fairly uncommon Red-Necked Grebe on the Susquehanna. Then, at Conowingo Dam, we saw an amazing site on the far side of the river: a Great Blue Heron trying to swallow a fish it had speared that was gi-normous, more than a foot long and pretty wide too. At one point the heron got the fish down its gullet, only for it to come back up. Then after what must have been a 15-minute struggle, the bloodied fish slipped away and back into the water. (No doubt it later became lunch for one of the numerous Bald Eagles hanging around). Later in the day, we saw an impressive concentration of about 300 American Coots.

Sadly, most of this action took place too far away for my 400mm zoom lens.

The mirror image of this photo is on Dan's blog.

We did not climb the lighthouse at Turkey Point looking for birds. But, hey, we've done crazier things.

Even something as prosaic as a Northern Mockingbird can be kind of cool. About 60 species of birds, good laughs and interesting sights. It doesn't take too much to satisfy Bird Couple.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Annapolis birding

Dan Haas, our good friend, is the local savior of birds in Annapolis. Last year, he rescued a Peregrine Falcon chick from under the Severn River bridge. Then in January, he and Don Young helped rescue a Red-Shouldered Hawk that was foundering in the mud of Back Creek. The hawk, much healthier and looking good, was released this week after being rehabilitated at the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia.

Dan's exploits and the hawk's freedom made the front page of the Annapolis Capital newspaper this week.

Meanwhile, for those in the Annapolis area or nearby, the Anne Arundel Bird Club is having its annual wildlife lecture on Monday, March 10. (Last year's was amazing). Details below...

Hmmmmmmmmm. Annapolis=birding central? We like to think so.


Anne Arundel Bird Club and Quiet Waters Park Annual Richard E. Heise, Jr. Wildlife Lecture
Monday, March 10 at 8:00 p.m.--Blue Heron Center, Quiet Waters Park, Annapolis

Join naturalist Dr. Eric Dinerstein, one of the world’s leading conservation biologists, as he recounts three decades of his amazing efforts around the globe to conserve tigers, snow leopards, rhinos, bats, and bison. Travel with the World Wildlife Fund’s Chief Scientist and one of the world’s top tiger experts on his missions to India and Nepal studying and setting up networks to conserve tigers through one of the most ambitious wildlife recovery projects in Asia. Hear firsthand of his work studying and developing conservation plans for the greater one-horned rhinoceros in Nepal and how Eric tracked snow leopards in the Kashmir and established a field research program in northern India for these spectacular but elusive cats. View wrinkle-faced bats and other fruit bats in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica as Eric illustrates his “inordinate fondness for bats”. Also explore WWF’s work on the American Prairie Restoration Project in Montana where the largest herds of wild bison exist along with other prairie wildlife such as endangered black-footed ferrets and grassland birds such as Sage Grouse and Ferruginous Hawks.