Friday, September 26, 2008
The 2008 Big Sit!
Mark your calendars for this worldwide event hosted by Bird Watchers Digest and sponsored by Swarovski and our friends at Alpen Optics and Wild Bird Centers
The Big Sit is a day of sitting and watching ... birds!
Kickoff is 12AM at your favorite birding location. For 24 hours, players identify birds from inside a 17-foot-diameter circle. The event is non-competitive, but contestants do try to top prior years' scores.
To officially join the fun, register your birding circle here.
So gather your birding buddies, pack the coolers, pull out the grill, make the potato salad, get your gear organized (beer pong and corn toss equipment optional) and find your spot to spend a Sunday sitting in front of the natural world.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The hive that successfully overwintered and exploded with bees in the spring.Athena.
The hive that probably swarmed 5 times in the early spring.
The hive that probably swarmed because I didn't give her enough space at the right time to grow.
The hive that I was often too clumsy with.
The hive that I often mismanaged.
The hive that I was always accidentally dropping something in or using too much smoke on or injuring too many bees as I inspected. Athena.
The hive that I would sit beside for hours watching her sisters coming and going.
The hive that I worried about late at night.
The hive that I would talk to and encourage.
The hive that lost her queen in July and fought to protect the stores of honey from robbers and wax moths.Athena.
The hive that gave Cute Husband and I all of this... Bittersweet.
The hive I lost in August.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
During the majority of August, thanks to constant photography generated by our Wingscapes BirdCam ,we noted only females and juveniles hitting the feeders.
Typically, males are the first to start both South and North migrations and it appeared that most of our males hit the road early.
Recently, are feeders seem to be only attracting my honey bees during the day and our feisty raccoons each night we forget to bring them in.
Our local family of hummers may have hit the road South, but we are leaving our feeders up through Thanksgiving.
Leaving your hummingbird feeders up and filled with fresh clean feed will not delay or discourage hummers from migrating. But, fresh sugar water could be critical to the South-bounders coming through.
Your backyard feeder could provide a valuable fueling station for these long distance migrants as they pass on their way south. In fact, your feeder may even be crucial to adding the additional energy to ensure they make their wintering grounds.
With body temperatures ranging from 105°-108°F, wing beats averaging 60 per second and flight speeds that can reach 63mph, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds need every ounce of energy they can find.
Energy that will hopefully help this tiny gal make a remarkable non-stop 18-20 hour crossing of the Gulf of Mexico.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Now their plumage looks a little worn, and it is sometimes a little harder to tell them apart. We won't see them again = except for a few birds silly enough to try to over-winter here = until late April and early May.
Their passage south is good news, however. It means they - or their parents - survived the brutal migration northward, made it through predators, human development and pollution, survived the competition of territory and mating, found enough to eat, and are now carrying on the great rythym of the year. Safe travels, dudes!
Here's one of the simplest, but prettiest, of the 30-odd warbler species in Eastern North America, the Yellow Warbler. We photographed it on April 20, 2008 at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Yes, that's the outer bands of Tropical Storm Hanna, ripping right up the old East Coast. We were sitting pretty at a certain little beach house in Fenwick Island, Delaware. As it happened, the worst of the storm went well to the west and north of us, drenching Washington, DC, and northern Virginia.
We knew Sunday, the day after, was going to be a nice day. And we hoped the storm might bring in a few vagrants pushed off course by the wind. Some intrepid birders did indeed see things like Cory's Shearwater, Parasitic Jaeger and the like. We missed those fellas, but had a heck of a time all the same.
And the weather Sunday was indeed gorgeous.
That's Paul and Lisa, doing some pretty intense birding. Notice Paul's shirt sleeves? This is the first time I can remember birding at the Inlet at Ocean City, Maryland and not absolutely freezing my tail off. Maybe that's because we are always there in February?
This Brown Pelican and his buddies were enjoying the weather, too.
Ruddy Turnstones were frollicking along the jetties the day after the storm, searching for bits of food along the rocks.
A Least Sandpiper showed up just below us on the rocks, giving some really good looks at this bird.
We did see several rarities during the two-day trip, including Piping Plover and Red Knot (both are endangered species). Also Black Skimmer, one of Lisa's favorite birds. But the common birds are fun, too, like this Forster's Tern. They seemed to be everywhere we looked Sunday.
And there were an amazing number of dolphins. We saw them at three or four points along the Maryland and Delaware shore. Is this migration? A post-storm feeding frenzy? Don't ask a birder...
Birding like fiends as we kept an eye on our watches and the September sun, we hit a half-dozen spots along the amazing shores of the Delaware Bay. Photo conditions were perfect by the time we got to the DuPont Nature Center at Slaughter Beach. The tide was full when we got there, meaning there were no mud flats where shorebirds congregate at low tide to feed. All the same, we got great close-up looks at more birds, including this Forster's Tern....
This Herring Gull...
And a Double-Crested Coromorant.
Thanks Paul and Lisa! On to the next adventure???!!!
Thursday, September 4, 2008
- When you purchase this work of art you are supporting the purchase of millions of acres of land for conservation.
- Without it, large portions of your favorite National Wildlife Refuges--in some cases upwards of 90%--wouldn't be there.
- Since it debuted in 1934, the stamp has raised $670 million and preserved 5.2 million acres of wetland.
If you haven't purchased your pass to bird yet, you might consider it even more valuable this year.
Apparently, the adhesive version of this year's stamp includes a card with a little typo.
A little typo in the phone number that directs Duck Stamp purchasers to a toll free phone sex service.
If you want to order additional duck stamps, please call 1-800-STAMP24 (1-800-782-6724), not 1-800-TRAMP24.
I predict amazing Duck Stamp sales this year!
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
The bonus is that the Wingscapes BirdCam captures all the action when we might not be checking out the feeders.