Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Swell Place to be a Frog...

The Cute Husband and I went to Western Maryland over the weekend in search of Upland Sandpiper and any other goodies that might decide to come out and play in the 95 degree weather.    After an hour of heated searching, the Uppie lifted his head above the long grass long enough for verification. 

We decided to head to Lilypons Water Gardens in search of shade and cooler birding.

The water lilies and lotus were stunning as we watched a Kingbird couple hunting for insects and listened to a Yellow Billed Cuckoo calling.
A touch of the Gardens of Versailles in Maryland...(Hint to Cute Husband... a gal should really go to Paris once every 5 years....)

A Koi Couple staying cool....
My Prince Charming...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

B-b-b-b-bird Couple does B-b-b-b-bird Blitz


  Princess and I went out to Nanjemoy, in rural Charles County, Maryland, last weekend to do our part for Audubon Maryland-DC's 2010 Bird Blitz, helping to identify candidate sites for future Important Bird Areas.

   Maps, checklist forms, binoculars and GPS device in hand, we walked along remote (but still too traffic-y) roads for four hours, until the heat and the sun had quieted down all but the most persistent birds. Don't you love that picture up there of Princess Lisa modeling the 2010 season route map, the latest in bird-nerd fashion? Seriously, she's way cute.

  Highlights of the morning were calling Prarie and Worm-Eating Warblers, along with a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo and some other goodies.

  
    A well-dressed BirdBlitz-er never leaves fome without their "Official Survey Vehicle" placard.

    In all seriousness, this is an important program, staffed by volunteers. Last year, Bird Blitz developed some important data that resulted in new IBAs being named. Oops - time to send our data forms in! Gotta run...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Twilight...

Nope, I'm not going to write about the soon to be released movie of the next installment.

Although, Cute Husband is really looking forward to seeing it with me on opening night...NOT. But, being the great bud that he is, I know he will at least watch it with me and keep his complaints to a minimum, as I ride out my guilty pleasure of enjoying something high school crappy.

No, I'm going to write about that special time between sunset and dusk. In particular, the twilight we had in Annapolis last night. As Cute Husband and I left the LoveNest for a walk, the Wood Thrushes and robins were still belting out their songs. The moon appeared in a dark blue sky and the fireflies were just starting to glow.

As our walk progressed, bird song turned to bird calls as bird couples told each other where they were before night fell. The fireflies started putting on quite the courtship show, lighting our way.

As dusk set in, we noticed the outline of a Great Horned Owl silently perched on a stop sign. As we reached our door, night began with the first tree frog belting out a deep croak.

All this wonder in a span of 30 minutes made me so grateful. Grateful - an emotion that should surround me every moment. But, one that gets lost sometimes in daily life.

So, thank you Wood Thrushes, fireflies, Moon, Great Horned Owl, tree frog and Cute Husband for the wonderful reminder.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Gulf Oil Spill & What YOU can DO

Trying to keep on top of fast-developing news on the Gulf oil spill response.



Here is what the American Birding Association is doing. You can also donate to their Gulf Coast Fund - the group says 95 cents of every dollar goes to grassroots organizations doing bird monitoring and clean-up.



In case you hadn't seen it, ebird  now has a special form for reporting oiled birds.



Should oiled birds be cleaned? Warren listened to another great NPR broadcast on this topic on his commute Tuesday. Tough question obviously - but some experts, citing data from the Exxon Valdez experience, say many oiled birds will not survive long, even after being cleaned.



We always find it worthwhile checking in on the latest from the US Fish & Wildlife Service.



Finally, here's today's chuckle from McClatchy's Miami Herald (cartoon by Jim Morin):



Thursday, June 10, 2010

Weekly Updates on Oil Spill Bird Rehab

Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research has been on the Gulf Coast since the last week of April and is reporting weekly updates on the wildlife rescue efforts.   

The report through June 5 is heartbreaking, as the number of birds arriving for rehabilitation starts to escalate. 

You can also view a Fish and Wildlife Collection Report that documents all injured or dead fish and wildlife encountered in the oil spill impact area....

547 dead birds, 235 dead turtles, 30 dead mammals...

And, while BP made a commitment to cover the cost of the Gulf Coast Cleanup and Tri-State Bird & Rescue efforts, there is still a need to support non-profits such as Tri-State.  

The research and facilities that can mobilize for such a catastrophe are only possible with general operating funds.   If you can't help with $, they also have a "wish list" of donated items that help to feed and care for their "patients".

P.S. US Fish and Wildlife Service tweets available here.  590 visibly oiled birds collected since April 30. Toll-free number to report oiled wildlife is 866-557-1401.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Magic places



   One of the most satisfying things about birding is those magic places you discover while looking for birds, the kind of places you always remember and try to come back to as often as possible. This is Finzel Swamp, a Nature Conservancy property out in western Maryland's Garrett County, at dawn.

   How amazing it was to hear the first birds vocalizing (including a distant Ring-Necked Pheasant) at first light on Memorial Day, and to see the day's first Barn Swallows fly out to drink from a nearby pond. Even though we had a bit of a misadventure at Finzel during our crazy big January, we love to go back as often as we can...




   Another magical place BC has been to recently, and will return to, is Arizona's Chiricahua Mountain range. We were chagrined to learn from Sycamore Canyon blog that a major fire has broken out there. ... 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Caught in the oil .... heartbreaking

You may have seen some of these pictures from the Gulf oil spill in your local newspaper or on your favorite website, but The Big Picture blog at Boston.com really conveys the full tragedy for birds along the Gulf coast.

Steel yourself before following the link.Ugh.

More on this from A DC Birding Blog.

The New York Times had a story yesterday about the Brown Pelican, back from near-extinction and now facing a new threat to its existence. As usual, my colleagues at McClatchy were way ahead on this one..

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Golden-winged Warbler is the most beautiful of all warblers!

And, I will fight anyone who disagrees....

Cute Husband whisked me away to Western Maryland to do a redo of last Memorial Day weekend where he went off with the boys in search of Golden-winged and other nesting warblers.   And, Cute Hubby being the perfect birding buddy, promised to take me to see this stunning bird this year. 

After spending the night in traveling LoveNest at the perfect camp site in New Germany State Park, where our tent neighbors shared dinner with us, we spent day break watching the bird wake at Finzel Swamp.  Sigh.  I love swamps!

Then off to some mountain roads in search of my most wanted bird of the trip.  We were on the very brink of giving up after checking several mountain pastures, when we heard the lovely "Bee Buzz Buzz".   Singing and preening on a tree within perfect viewing range. 

Wow!

Sorry, no pictures here, as we are saving for a new (big, powerful) camera lens.... but is this not the most beautiful of all warblers?   Plus, he has one of the coolest warbler songs ever. 

OH, every weekend should have three days!   And this trip was one of the finest ways to end spring migration 2010 and the month of May!