Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fall warblers...

.. can be confusing, as these migrating beauties lose their spring and summer garb, or young birds, just born a few months ago and making their journey south, show off a confusing array of finery.

   As you can tell from our last post, Lisa took me down to far Somerset County on my birthday last weekend to go birding and push my county "ticks" list over 2,300, or an average of 100 species seen in each of fair Maryland's 23 counties.

   The tree and the plumage of this bird made us think it was a Pine Warbler. But a closer look at the sharp bill, eye stripe and (not seen in this picture), streaking down the back led us to conclude it was actually a Blackpoll Warbler.

This is a female Pine Warbler. At least we're pretty sure. This is getting confusing!

No mistaking this one, even in the fall: Black-Throated Green Warbler. 

Palm Warblers largely disappear from our area around April, summering elsewhere and returning in Fall:

Here at last is a classic adult male Pine Warbler. We're sure. Well, pretty sure. Fall warblers. Geez.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Yesterday was your Birthday...

 So, I asked you how you would like to spend YOUR day. 

Well, birding of course...
 With me!
 We traveled the lanes and byways of Somerset County in search of new county ticks. 

You made your goal of 2,300 Maryland County ticks on your birthday!

 We had a picnic on a pier as a Greater Yellow Legs called to us.   We walked miles of dusty road in the middle of a swamp. We jumped and crawled through fences in search of an elusive Somerset County Cardinal.   We counted hundreds of Yellow Butts and several White Throated Sparrows which reminded us that winter is on its way....

I wished the day would never end. 
Happy Birthday Cute Husband... thanks for sharing it with me....

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Big Year movie - quick review

Lisa and I saw the movie last night, ending months of anticipation.

In a word (or 3), Birdcouple loved it. The movie captured the joy, zaniness and well, stress, of competitive birding. And through three different characters and different lenses, as it were, the tension between the release from life that birding is, and the responsibilies of life.

Most importantly, it was fun and touching.

There were some marvelous scenes involving beautiful looks at birds -- Xantu's Hummingbird and Great Grey Owl, to name two. Could it have used more birds? Of course, but we would have said that in any case.

W's one critique is that there was no scene in the movie where birders worried/argued over the identification of a species - an Alder vs Willow flycatcher, say, or a late fall warbler. That's a big part of a Big Year and, instead, the three birders nailed everything they saw. A bit unrealistic.

Most importantly, the movie didn's stereotype birders in the usual way as antisocial geeks. That's a big step forward for the birding community.

L and I are both wondering how non-birders perceive/enjoy the movie. It's hard for us to put ourselves in non-birder brains. :) We'd love to hear any anecdotes on that score!!

In the meantime, the Ny Times has done a fair review here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Big Year Movie Week!

L and W have been off hiking, with son Adam, knocking off another 26 miles of the Appalachian Trail. 851+ miles down! We had some good birds, too, including Blue-Headed Vireo, calling Nashville Warbler and Barred Owls serenading us at dusk and dawn while we crashed in our tents.

But now, we are back and psyched for the debut of the BIG YEAR MOVIE this coming Friday, October 14. A lot more snippets from the film are available here.

In the meantime, the inimitable Laura Kammermeier has created one of her wry, hilarious animated shorts to celebrate/explain/wonder.

See ya at the flix. Some of the Maryland birding battalion will be going to the premiere bins around neck, to show their stuff.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Assateague in October

You never know what you'll see on Assateague Island, off the Maryland and Virginia eastern coast, in October, the month of rapid migration of bird and beast.

One thing you won't see is Birdcouple birding nude. We don't do that. Well, not in October, anyway.

Peregrine Falcons were on the move as we walked the beach on Saturday and Sunday. We saw at least a half-dozen shoot by in less than 24 hours!

Later, we found this plaque that informed us how Assateague Island is a major migration crossing point for the tundrius or arctic subspecies of the Peregrine. Click the link here and you will read some wonderful words concerning this bird's endangered status: "Delisted due to Recovery."

Not delisted, but hopefully getting the protection it needs, is the endangered, and very soulful, Piping Plover. W and L practically stumbled over this little guy:

Red Knots are also endangered. So many special species in one place in October.


Also on the move: Tree Swallows, Brown Pelicans, dolphins. Hint to pelicans: you are going the wrong way. South is the other way.


There were beautiful scenes...

... and lots of birds, like this Yellow-Rumped Warbler (a sure sign of fall) and American Redstart.