Monday, December 31, 2012

2012... One of the Best for BC!

2012 was full of so many BirdCouple highs it is hard to even believe it all happened in one year!

First, many thanks to you that read us and follow us exploring birds, the AT and all things in the natural world!

Unfortunately, Cute Husband and I found little time to feed the BC blog in 2012, so we so appreciate YOU  looking  for updates.

The most time consuming wonderful part of 2012, was Warren's Maryland Big Year.  He smashed his goal of 300 in the state and as of this writing, he stands at #8 in the state with 316!  It was great fun exporing odd corners of our state, doing multiple pelagics and meeting up with fellow birding friends in cold fields, wet marshes and humid forests.  We both learned so much and believe we have become better birders over the last 12 month.  We also met new friends along the way!

I'm not really talking about his Black Headed Gull, but what a January treat he was!

Cute Husband took me to romantic places - landfills, waste water treatment plants and buggy swamps.   And, I loved every minute!  I was with the most important person in my life and although the trip to Chicago was more comfortable, we weren't really searching for birds....

We shared Atlantic Puffins in Maine and other lifers when we celebrated Warren's birthday on the coast. 

On the hiking side of 2012, we finished 900 miles of the AT and then proceeded to walk another 100, busting the 1,000 mile marker!

Sigh, an amazing year with goals met and tons of fun had!
Happy New Year!  Can't wait to see what 2013 brings...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012!!!

To You and Yours.....

                                                                          ..... From the Birdcouple.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

We're not the only feederwatchers...

This juvenile Red-Shouldered Hawk landed just outside the window one recent afternoon when Warren was typing away on the computer. Directly below that branch? Our new platform feeder.
Everybody had else had scattered. Titmice, juncos, Mourning Doves, chickadees and nuthatches - gone.
Can you blame them?
But as Lisa always says, the hawks have to eat, too.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A crane in a driveway

 No, not that kind of crane. A Sandhill Crane!!! What it was doing in this dirveway in Huntingtown, Calvert County, Maryland, we dont exactly know, but there it was last Sunday when the Birdcouple went looking for it.
  Sorry for the lousy cellphone pictures - guess who forgot his big expensive camera!?
You can learn more about Cranes and how to save and proetct them at the International Crane Foundation website.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Hairy Woodpecker
... it's easy to forget how our "common" birds can be strikingly beautiful. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Baby, It's Cold Outside...

Ok, we got below freezing last night. 
Summer is still my favorite season...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Farewell November

November has a reputation for biringing the craziest, rarest, most surprising birds to our fair state, as late migration, crazy winds and young birds combine to shower us with near daily avian surprises. This November was not any exception, and Birdcouple ate it up.

We'll let the photos speak for themselves.

Snow Bunting, Thomas Point Park, Annapolis, MD, 11/10/2012:

Western Kingbird, Ocean City \Airport, 11/18/2012

Calliope Hummingbird, Tilghman Island, 11/18/2012:

And finally, this very late Black-and-White Warbler, near Havre de Grace, Maryland, 11/25/2012:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Ducks are HERE!

It seems like they are late this year.... or perhaps I am just longing to see my most favorite ducks of them all- Canvasbacks!   The classiest of all ducks in the land!

Today, Cute Husband (the classiest of all husbands in the land) forwarded me the first posting that the ducks have arrived. 


Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintails, Scaup, Teal.... 

Brrrrr.... now if only I could find a heated bubble to bird in....

Monday, November 26, 2012

Birdcouple (the blog) is 6!!!

Birdcouple (the couple) is actually almost 11. Eleven fab years of Warren and Lisa. :) Our little baby here,, turned 6 on Sunday.

Here is our first, kinda lame post on November 25, 2006.

So what to do on our blogoversary? We spent the afternoon doing one of our favorite things - birding!!

This immature Rufous Hummingbird has been hanging out for two weeks at a feeder near Havre de Grace, Maryland. It gave us great looks, just minutes after we arrived. We've had lots of Rufous, Calliope and late Ruby-Throated Hummers in Maryland this fall.

This bird at Susquehanna State Park was even more of a shocker in some ways. One of the first November records for Black-and-White Warbler in Maryland.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!!


A belated Happy Thanksgiving from Birdcouple!  Hope everyone had a wondeful Holiday.
We got this lovely pre-Thanksgiving surprise in the (E-)mail. Back on January 5, 2011, Warren was birding at Hillsmere Beach in Annapolis when he saw a Tundra Swan (described above as a Whistling Swan, actually a subspecies) with a band on its leg. He recorded the number and sent it online.
This certificate shows that the bird was hatched in 2007, and banded on August 29, 2007. It was about 3 1/2 years old when I saw it.
Most cool of all,  the bird was banded up on the North Slope of Alaska. Drop these numbers _ 70.41667, -150.58333 - into Google Maps or some similar program and you'll see what we mean.
That's a LOOOOONG way from Naptown USA!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Can't We All Just Get Along? - The Different Birder Tribes

Courtesy of Michael Speicher, first posted to the Maryland Birding Google Group.

YES, for EVERY county and YES for every year for the last 30 years - you got a problem with that? Typically put over 300K miles on vehicles before trading them in, but only get a new car every other year.
When asked, "Hey, Jim is that one for your life list?" you are thinking, "I just like looking at the damn things and now you're telling me i got to keep records?"
FEEDER WATCHERS, squirrel intolerant
FEEDER WATCHERS, squirrel's gotta eat too
Those other flappy things are birds?
What's not to like? No need to strain your neck looking into the treetops. They're drab, looking the same in good light and bad, but they're ALWAYS popping into view JUST as you put your bins down. 
I got my cell phone and it's loaded with apps; i even got my TABLET with me and it's got even more apps...tell me why are we standing in this field? It's kind of damp here and...ZAAAAAAP!
If my camera hasn't seen the bird, i haven't seen the bird!
Likely the offspring of librarians: Hey everybody, can anyone help me to confirm that sighting from 30 years ago?
Tramp down obscure paths in W MD never quite sure what they have heard and can't see the birds for the forested tree-tops. Are most happy when they find warblers that were the product of confused parents.
and lately
All birds can be reduced to 4-letter words!
Is it any wonder there's going to be tension on the list from time to time? But the plain truth is we are all better off for the diversity, so let's agree to put up with each other and feel free to add to my categories. I'm sure i've only scratched the surface.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Birding after Huricane Sandy

Along with a lot of human misery, "superstorm Sandy" brought in scads of unusual birds from far afield. Normally ocean-going or coastal species like Pomarine Jaeger and American Oysterctacher were found far in land, up major rivers and tributaries.

These Red Phalaropes, the most ocean-going of the three Phalarope species, were a life bird for us. They were on the lake behind Conowingo Dam, along the Susquehanna River.

Beautiful birds!

Lisa would LOVE to see one of these Phalaropes in its stunning red winter plumage some day!
There had been 5 or more Phalaropes at this location right after Sandy, along with Pomarine Jaegers. Iceland Gulls and other crazy stuff. We felt thrilled that a pair were still there, and gave us great close-up looks.
Here's a Reuters article about post-Sandy birding in the New York city area.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Evening Grosbeak

Common to our north and west, this bird is quite uncommon in Maryland, with only a handful of records at best each year.

But, in anticipation of a major finch irruption this winter, we have already had 3 or 4 sightings this fall, including this very obliging bird at a feeder in Howard County. Many thanks to Russ Ruffing for being so obliging himself and allowing dozens of visitors to enjoy the bird.

Another view:

Kind of a fearsome big fella:

What cool headwear!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and birding

Hurricane Sandy could bring some very interesting birds to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions. eBird has a great explanation here.

Possibilities include Petrels, Frigatebirds and Carribean terns, to name a few.

Please remember: This could be a dangerous storm. SAFTEY FIRST!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

300 Birds!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A month of milestones!

He did it!  He did it before the clock struck 12 midnight on December 31!  

Bird 300?   Vesper Sparrow!

300 Maryland birds = accomplished.

I can't tell you how proud I am of Cute Husband's accomplishment.   He works insane hours, has a crazy commute, two sons and a demanding wife and he refused to give up.

All those early ups, miles on the car and discouraging dips paid off.

Good on you, Sugar!   So... what will be bird 301?

Monday, October 15, 2012

1,000 MILES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At some point around 11am today, Lisa and I finished walking our 1,000th mile on the Appalachian Trail. Princess will post soon on Birdcouple's AT blog. (Click that link up there!)

Not a huge number of birds in the mountains of southwest Virginia in mid-October, but we did have Eastern Screech-Owl (new AT bird!!), White- and Red-Breasted Nuthatches, Common Raven, Blue Jay and American Crow, Dark-Eyed Junco, White-Throated Sparrows, a possible Peregrine Falcon at dusk at Rice Field Shelter, Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker and Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker and ... well, that's about it, except for an unidentified Thrush species.

We've seen about 120 species of birds in our AT wanderings, everything from a Whip-Poor-Will calling at dusk in a campsite in the Shenendoah mountains to waterfowl on the big pond at Boiling Springs, PA.

Now we must dream trail dreams until the Appalachian Spring.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Guess who hit 298 this morning?

Yes!  You!

Warren's quest for 300 Maryland birds continues and the goal is within reach.  Cute Husband managed to nab 2 new birds in one day - Baird's Sandpiper (297!) and Nelson's Sparrow (298!).  A two-fer new bird day hasn't happened since spring migration.

Good job, my Love!  Now, some vagrants to capture slots 299 and 300...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Duck Stamp: We have a 2013 winner!

This beautiful, touching painting of a Common Goldeneye by Robert Steiner of San Francisco was chosen yesterday as the winner of the 2012 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest, and will appear on the 2013-2014 duck stamp, which goes on sale next June.

Birdcouple LOVES this piece of art - the painting captures its subject perfectly - and obviously the judges did too.

More on the contest, the 2nd and 3rd place winners, and the duck stamp program is available right here on the Fish & Wildlife Service website right here.

Wait a MINUTE! Have you purchased your 2012-2013 duck stamp yet? Please do it, and preserve some habitat.

Tomorrow is Oct. 1. The ducks will be here soon...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Working Hard and Playing Hard...

Why must work get in the way when there is so much playing to do? 

Fall migration is in full swing and Cute Husband is hot on the search for his final 8 birds to reach the golden number of 300 for the year in the state of Maryland. 

Meanwhile, work for both of us has exploded in the last week, making early morning birding wake up calls a little rougher. 

Or it could be all the de-stress late night playing we did with friends and family this weekend...

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


MEGA. That's what we call a super-rare bird, like one that has never, or rarely ever, been seen in a given state or other area.

Well, we had a MEGA, history-making pelagic trip on August 24-25, sailing out of Lewes, Delaware with Paul Guris and the great bunch from See Life Paulagics.

We left at 11pm - yes in the evening - aboard the Thelma Dale V, spending the night on benches, floors and what have you aboard the fishing vessel. But at dawn, rewards awaited.

This is the first EVER Herald Petral seen in Maryland waters (or lands). It flew around our boat for at least 25 minutes, giving great views to all.

(Sorry for the mediocre pictures, but photography aboard a moving boat, while you are jostling with other excited birders and excited yourself, is ... challenging).

Another reason to be excited:  2 maybe 3 Black-Capped Petrels joined the fun. Another life bird!

That alone would have made it an incredible trip, but we were rewarded later in the day when two ace Maryland birders, Ed Boyd and Mikey Lutmerding, spotted another bird that makes pelagic birders drool. A White-Faced Storm Petrel (No photo unfortunately).

Who's this beauty? Just a gorgeous Greater Shearwater. What a trip.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Here's the Payoff for Loads of Birding...

My Guy is number 8 in the state!

And, if you cast your eyes to the bottom of the page.... I appear!

We had the most amazing pelagic experience this weekend, including a first ever Maryland record of a Heralds Storm Petrel.    More to follow with pictures!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pledge to Fledge - August 24-26, 2012

We call it "passing the glass" - sharing the joy of birding with others, especially young folks.  Pledge2Fledge is even neater.

So do something this weekend to get a non-birder interested in birds, nature and the outdoors. You can start here.

- BC

Sunday, August 19, 2012

White Ibis!

   Princess and I most often go chasing after good or rare birds spotted by others. Today was different. We were driving across Tanyard Marsh in Caroline County on Maryland's Eastern Shore when I spotted a large shorebird feeding on the other side of the road -- too large to be a Yellowlegs or a Dowitcher. We pulled over to the side, did a quick U-turn and got on the bird.

  As we approached, it has the "gizz" of an Ibis. On closer inspection, it was a White Ibis, a bird that is only seen half-dozen times at most in Maryland, usually this time of year. Better yet, it was the first-ever record of this species in Caroline County.

  Wahoo! Birdcouple rocks.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Happy, happy birthday AT

Happy 75th Birthday to the Appalachian Trail! The world's best-known and longest marked footpath was completed on August 14, 1937.

We're proud to be members of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and to have hiked 935 miles of those white blazes. Can't wait to get back out there.

More on BC's AT adventures here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hope for Avoiding Glass Collisions?

NPR has a two part series here on work being done by the American Bird Conservancy (BirdCouple loves the ABC!) to test different glass for building construction to help mitigate the 100 million birds who die each year from glass collides.

Europe has led the way in glass testing, so it is nice to hear that ABC is following suit.   And, super nice to hear NPR do a story on the impact of glass collides on birds.  Give it a listen...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Puffins .. and more

For an early birthday present (we won't say which number) and after we hiked 68 miles on the Appalachian Trail, Princess took Warren on his first-ever visit to Maine. There were many highlights, but one of the best was surely a visit to Machias Seal Island and a chance for a close-up look at Atlantic Puffins just feet away!

Machias Seal Island is claimed by both Canada and the US, but maintained by Canada's wildlife service. Limited numbers of visitors are allowed each year, and the lucky few get to virtually mingle with the Puffins and other birds while hiding in blinds:

More soon on our Maine and Massachusetts adventure. Bye for now...