Friday, February 29, 2008
So, to our visitors - enjoy the extra 24 hours. Take a second look at the world around you. See an extra bird. Spend extra time with the kids. Give your spouse a kiss.
I will. (Love you, honey).....
Monday, February 25, 2008
This little gal, and her sister, were reported about a week ago at Fort Smallwood Park. Princess and I promised each other that we would not go birding this weekend. Too much to do, Right. We dashed off Saturday afternoon, after Adam passed his driver's test - Go Adam! - to try to see this bird. Nope. We tried again Sunday afternoon, after Adam's soccer game. (We are good parents, see!) No luck. No bird. Weather = cold and miserable.
I tried a 3rd time this morning, getting up an hour early so I could make it to work on time. There she was. Sorry for the lousy pic. Bill Hubick has much better ones. But BirdCouple got the bird!
And a bonus Killdeer!
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Purple Finch at Battle Creek Cypress Swamp
Two female Purple Finches, House Finch and Ms. Cardinal
Red Breasted Nuthatch
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
Let's start with the Greater Backyard Bird Count. Yes, it's underway, starting today, Feb. 15 and going through Feb. 18. More than 2,100 checklists have already been submitted.
As we wrote last year, the GBBC "is a great opportunity to get anyone with the slightest curiosity about the natural world involved in a little birding." Participants simply count the highest number of birds of each species seen during any 15 minute period over the four days of the count. You can check it out, and enter your checklists here.
This year, GBBC, which is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon, has a new official blog of its own. AND, Rob Fergus, a National Audubon Society senior scientist, passed along this online identification game, which is both fun and a great way to test your I.D. skills.
So get countin'! (Full disclosure - BirdCouple can't participate this year.. we're helping with a waterbird survey of the Patuxent River and then off to the beach ... to bird). But we'll be watching the watchers....
.... In other news, those folks at The Biggest Twitch are cruising along in their effort to break the world record for number of bird species seen in a single year (It now stands at 3,662). As of a couple of days ago, Alan Davies and Ruth Miller were in Ethiopia, and have seen 1,468 species this year. Wow. That beats our life lists by a mile! We wish them well and safe travels...
Moving right along.... Georgia's Steve Moore, who is a regular visitor at this site, has started a new podcast called BirdwatchRadio.com
Steve, we look forward to listening, and will add it our iTunes podcast list. What would Audubon have thought of podcasts? Or Roger Tory Peterson? Hmmm....
... In other important bits and pieces, most of our readers probably already have seen, or at least heard of, the PBS series on the Red Knot and how its survival is intertwined with that of the Horseshoe Crab. But if you haven't, the web site is here. The Website looks great - just check out this download-able wallpaper:
What would Audubon have thought of downloads?
.... Last, but certainly not least, Paul Baicich passes along news that the federal government is proposing to increase the cost of the Duck Stamp from $15 to $25. This could bring in an additional $14 million to secure and preserve wetlands and other habitat, but the idea is bound to cause a fair bit of debate...
Stay tuned this weekend as BirdCouple reports from the highways, byways and seashore of southern and eastern Maryland.
Princess: Here are our weekend goals: 1 new life bird, 20 new year birds, 90 species overall, and enough new county birds to get me to the 1,000 "tick" mark in Maryland. And lots of fun.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
you and I sitting on the verandah,
apparently two, but one in soul, you and I.
We feel the flowing water of life here,
you and I, with the garden's beauty
and the birds singing.
The stars will be watching us,
and we will show them
what it is to be a thin crescent moon.
You and I unselfed, will be together,
indifferent to idle speculation, you and I.
The parrots of heaven will be cracking sugar
as we laugh together, you and I.
In one form upon this earth,
and in another form in a timeless sweet land.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
However, this recent article in Low Impact Living reminded me that I would cherish something from the Cute One's heart much more than something that was mass produced, disposable or somehow chewed up the environment.
Baby, on this Valentine's Day, forget that huge heart shaped card exploding with chocolates.
Forget that diamond tiara I showed you last night.
Forget the weekend in Paris.
Forget the 5 course dinner prepared by Brad Pitt in a gladiator outfit.
I will have none of it!
Let's celebrate the cupid day by sharing a cup of Shade Grown Coffee , some great birding memories and a big long smooch!
I have clearly lost my mind.....
Monday, February 11, 2008
White-breasted Nuthatch on the feeder in the summer.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Well, after six attempts (Warren), a dozen or so (Lisa) and just one (Adam), we finally saw the beautiful adult male Painted Bunting that lost its bearings and has been hanging around Annapolis since before Christmas.
Oddly, it (and we assume this is the same bird) visited feeders at two different houses perhaps three miles apart, both of which had large stands of bamboo nearby.
The Painted Bunting, is a beautful, if sometimes shy bird, and the looks we got were nothing like the photograph on the left. Nope, our PABU hid in some dense holly (perhaps being put off by the dozen or so birders and scopes arrayed like a battery of guns on it) and we only found it with the help of those with scopes.
Dan Haas has some great photos on his blog of the Anne Arundel County PABU itself. (Sorry you Shrike-d out on the Northern Shrike at Cromwell Valley, Dan.)
The bunting has been seen lately at a house near the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail.
Having tried so long and hard for the bird (including some chilly December mornings just before Christmas), we decided to be satisfied, and went off to run some miles on the B&A Trail. In fact, we ran back past the spot where our fellow birders were waiting patiently for better looks at Mr. PABU!
I was thinking about this later in the weekend as I read the last 50 pages of Life of the Skies by Jonathen Rosen. He tells the story of making plans to try to go find the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, shortly after its "rediscovery" in Arkansas. Planning to go with him are two friends, Andy and Rob, both passionate birders.
He writes that Andy "like me ... birds in the spaces his life allows--between children and marriage and teaching and writing and all the obligations of midlife." Rob, on the other hand, "seems to do his work and his living in the spaces that birding allows."
As our PABU experience shows, we are passionate birders (we tried repeatedly before the bird before finally seeing it, a life bird!), but more like Andy. Maybe later in life, we will be more like Rob.
On the other hand, as Adam and I were puffing up and down the trail, we were still birding. We saw a huge Red-Shouldered Hawk in a branch of a tree, not five feet off the trail, looking hungrily into the field below.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
This is a Bluebird, as in "Bluebird of Happiness." But he looks a little - well, tense. Like W has been, what with work, commute, kids and (ugh!) short winter days.
Princess took me on a surprise adventure on Sunday and Monday. I had NO idea where we were going. We ended up here:
This is Keswick Hall, an amazing country inn just outside Charlottesville, Virginia. Being mid-winter, hardly any other overnight guests were around, and we were treated like the Lord & Lady of the manor. We had the dining room, and a world-class chef (and wine cellar) to ourselves.
Lisa indeed looked like she belonged here. Did I mention the amazing massage?
Ah, but back to the birds! In the morning, we went birding around the grounds, set in the hills outside Charlottesville, not far from Jefferson's Monticello. The woods were full of Pileated Woodpeckers, although they were furtive and ghostly:
There are lots of great birding and hiking spots in and around Charlottesville, such as Beaver Creek Dam, not far from the mountain town of Crozet. *
* Hint: This picture is upside down.
Next, we headed to Walnut Creek Park, where we found more Pileated Woodpeckers, 3 Pied-Billed Grebes, and a Cardinal who thought it was still Christmas:
The Blue Baby took us everywhere we wanted to go, 100s of miles, 52 species of birds, new adventures at every corner:
Wanna go there too? Follow the signs:
PS: Baby, yes, it's almost Valentine's Day, I know. BirdCouple's favorite day. Got it.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
BirdCouple has had some excellent birding adventures this week. First off, this morning, we and our friend Paul Baicich saw the White-Winged Crossbill that has been hanging around Rockville, Maryland. (That is NOT it above. If you want to check out some excellent pictures of this beauty, Dan Haas has them on his blog.)
Crossbills normally spend their time way up north, and the Maryland Yellowbook, more properly known as The Field List of the Birds of Maryland, says they are seen in Maryland "less than annually." We had tried for this Crossbill just before Christmas, and missed it. Amazingly, it was not seen for a few weeks, and has now returned. It was species #82 for the year, as we shoot for a Little Big Year of 350 species in North America.
Earlier this week, Warren took a much-needed day off and went south to his favorite place in all of Maryland, St. Mary's County. BirdCouple was married here, at a lovely place called Sotterly Plantation. Warren didn't dream of stopping there, since Lisa was not with him. Instead, he headed south, past historic St. Mary's City, past little towns like Ridge and St. Inigoes, all the way to the end of the Peninsula, to where the Potomac River meets the Chesapeake Bay:
Ah, birding! What's next?