Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Birds of a decade

Wow! Hard as it is to believe, a decade comes to a close tomorrow. The decade in which Lisa and Warren met, married and discovered/renewed their joint love of the outdoors and of birds. The decade in which we traveled to Africa, India, Costa Rica, Texas, Florida, California, North Dakota and a lot of other places in search of adventure and avian friends.

The decade, too, when our boys Mitch and Adam graduated from high school and started college and the road to full adulthood. And the decade, sadly, that Lisa's father, Tom, did not live to see completed.

Like other blogs, including A DC Birding Blog, have done, we are going to mark the occasion with a recap of the decade's 10 best birds. Well, at least some of the 10 best. There were so many! These aren't just bird sightings, of course, but life experiences and learning adventures.

1. Resplendent Quetzal. September 21, 2003, Monteverde, Costa Rica. Almost all had migrated away for the season, but our Tican guide found the last one in a rainy rain forest. Warren proposed to Lisa the next day.

2. Snowy Owl. December 21, 2008, Assateague Island, Maryland. A bird we'd long longed to see. We wandered around the beach until a Park Ranger drove up and offered to take us right to the bird. He did. Lisa declined a ride back down the beach, for which Warren will forever tease her.

3. Ostrich. May 15, 2007. En route Okanjima, Namibia. As many times as you've seen pictures and TV shows, this bird is stunning in real life. Namibia was a magical vacation, full of amazing wildlife, birds and panoramas. Shhhhh! It's also a well-kept secret.

4. Painted Stork. March 11, 2009. Bharatpur, India. Hard to pick a favorite among the more than 100 species we saw in India, but the lovely, goofy Painted Storks stole our hearts as they necked and nuzzled. (Original post is here).

5. Baltimore Oriole. May 3, 2002, Sanderling, North Carolina. Our first real birding trip together. Would Birdcouple work? Did Lisa think Warren was a weird birder, or did she like it? She did! And she was captivated by a bright male oriole hit by a shaft of sunlight on an otherwise cloudy, windy day.

6. Grey-Crowned Yellowthroat. Sabal Palm Refuge, Texas, April 2, 2005. Quick, but great, looks at this rare border-crosser from Mexico, one of the rarest North American birds on our lists.

7. Tropical Kingbird. Somerset County, Maryland, December 30, 2006. Found by others during a Christmas Bird Count, this was a stunning first record of the bird for Maryland. Warren dipped on it on his first try, but Lisa and he went back and got their prize, a great way to celebrate year's end.

8. Clark's Nutcracker. Cathedral Lake, Yosemite National Park, California, August 20, 2002. Another early trip. We hiked deep into back country--and bear country--without really knowing what we were doing. As the full moon rose, we heard the voices and saw the lights of mountain climbers on nearby Cathedral Peak. Walking around the lake in the morning, a bird flew nearby, flashing white wing and tail patches. Warren had never seen one, but knew what it was. One way to impress the new girlfriend.

9. Wood Thrush. Point No Point Drive, Annapolis, Maryland. Every April 23-24. They arrive like clockwork in the back woods and sing throughout the spring, "our" little miracles from Central America.

10. Hummingbird, species. April 29, 2006. Loggerhead Key, Dry Tortugas, Florida. Warren was standing on the beach looking out at the ocean when he saw a tiny object fly in across the water and buzz a few feet over his head. It was a hummingbird, and it had just completed the journey across the Gulf of Mexico. Awe-inspring and unforgettable.

Bring on the 2010s!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

No Peanut Allergies Here...

After the big snow, it was hard to find any of our backyard friends who didn't enjoy the peanut feeder.....

All pictures captured by our Wingscapes BirdCam... White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren

Tufted Titmouse

Carolina Wren.

Red-bellied Woodpecker... showing a little red belly.

White-breasted Nuthatch.
Hairy Woodpecker.

Pine Warbler!

Cute, huh?

Hairy Woodpecker showing why he is different from a Downy Woodpecker.

White-breasted Nuthatches are very photogenic and apparently really like peanuts.

Tufted Titmouse posing for the BirdCam.

And, last by not least ... I'm a Downy Woodpecker.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Socked in, with the birds

One thing about a major snow storm, it does force you to slow down the pace of life. Well, we got nearly 2 feet of the white stuff here at the Lovenest on Friday/Saturday, leaving us well socked in, and with plenty of extra time. We spent a lot of it watching the birds flock to our feeder, even as the snow continued to pour down.

Hairy Woodpecker

We had quite a variety of visitors, including:

_ Hairy Woodpecker
_ Downy Woodpecker
_ Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker
_ Red-Bellied Woodpecker
_ American Goldfinch
_ House Finch
_ White-Breasted Nuthatch
_ Carolina Chickadee
_ Tufted Titmouse
_ Dark-eyed Junco
_ Pine Warbler
_ White-Throated Sparrow
_ Carolina Wren
_ Hermit Thrush
_ American Robin
_ Mourning Dove

Juncos, also known as "snowbirds," don't normally come to our feeder, but we had two or three of these handsome fellows and ladies scratching in the snow for seeds out on the deck.

Dark-Eyed Junco

New birds continued to arrive after the snow stopped on Sunday morning, including this Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker:

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

A wonderful weekend was capped off with some non-avian bird action. I'm speaking of the Baltimore Ravens, of course. Warren and Mitch went up to Balmor' to see them trounce the Chicago Bears, 31-7!!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New feeder bird

Warren is back at the Lovenest, enjoying Lisa AND all our winter birdlife. Chickadees, cardinals, titmice, nuthatches - they all look new again after a month and a half in the Middle East.

A special treat was this Pine Warbler, which Lisa spotted a couple of weeks ago. First time we've had one at the back feeders. Hopefully it will keep coming back, so we can get a better picture!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Baghdad Update 6 (and last)

Warren is leaving Baghdad on Sunday morning, after 6 weeks, and Birdcouple will be united again! To say that he can't wait to see L is the understatement of 2009.

Warren won't miss: blast walls, checkpoints, men with guns everywhere, the sameness of the meals, security restrictions, sandstorms, trash everywhere in the streets, the lack of good Zinfandel and real steak.

Warren will miss: the amazing, resourceful, funny, brave Iraqi staff who work for McClatchy's Baghdad bureau; the resilient Iraqi people; the call to prayer from mosques (especially the one at sunset); and, perhaps, most of all, the White-Cheeked Bulbul that calls outside his window every morning.

Here's an example from YouTube.

Lovenest, here I come!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Apparently, they like the new seed mixes...

Happiness is a well fed bird.

And, Cute Husband home soonest...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Baghdad Update 5

Warren took this picture Tuesday during another walk in Abu Nawas park in downtown Baghdad. This Pied Kingfisher was hovering over a marshy area at the banks of the Tigris River.

W even got to go on a boat ride, because small tour boats have begun operating on the river for the first time in years, a tentative bit of normality in a war-scarred city.

There were a fair number of birds, although most of them unidentified, since W was sans bins: a big heron (Grey Heron or Purple Heron), a white egret near some reeds, lots of White-Cheeked Bulbuls which are frequent around the city, and Great Cormorants. Even saw a bat at another Baghdad park just at dusk.

Ten more days and W will be eating up the wintering East Coast birds. And more importantly, eating up Lisa!