Saturday, February 25, 2012

Not to be Denied!

Doing a Big Year, which Birdcouple is doing, is a question of persistence, and luck, and strategizing, and honing bird skills, and ... well, persistence.

We went down to Jug Bay sanctuary today, despite the 35 mph winds, hoping for a peek at a certain bird that we have not yet seen this year, and which we think is one of the most handsomest birds around.

Well, we went to the beaver pond where it had been seen recently, and walked all around, waited, scoped out every tree, and waited some more. We even, truth be told, played its call on Princess' iPhone.

We were about to move on, when Warren saw a tiny patch of red against the late-winter brown of the tree trunks, and leaves, which he first mistook for a maple leaf or an optical illusion. Another look .. and there he (she?) was, a Red-Headed Woodpecker, hunkered down like us against the wind and almost hidden except for his (her?) cherry-red top.

Persistence. Worth it when there are head winds.

Monday, February 20, 2012

First a Virgina's Warbler and then...

For a Virgina's Warbler to find its way to Maryland is quite a large deal.  He belongs here:

So, naturally, we had to go find him!  And, find him we did and it was also the start of quite a magical weekend.

The Virginia's Warbler choose a fine spot to land his lost self -  The Pickering Creek Audobon Center in Easton.  Proving that if you have a variety of habitats including mature hardwood forest, cropland, marsh, meadow, wetlands, and over a mile of shoreline on a tidal creek, you are going to attract some great birds.  

We had a wonderful time waiting for the skittish bird to make an appearance as we caught up with old and new birding buddies.     Then it was off for a secret adventure planned by Cute Husband to celebrate the day we met - 10 years later.

Naturally, he tortured me all day, but I did note we were headed South. 

After a full day of birding craziness in St. Mary's County, including another rarity - a Barrow's Goldeneye, we pulled up to Woodlawn.

Image of Woodlawn Historic Bed and Breakfast, Ridge

Woodlawn is a 180 acre historic estate with over a mile of waterfront, cropland and established woodland.  A birder's dream getaway.   We watched Red Breasted Mergansers on the creek as we enjoyed the breakfast part of an amazing weekend.   Woodlawn is also strategically placed within minutes of  Point Lookout, which we visited each day in search of White Winged Scoter.

Perhaps the best was getting enough snow keep us from birding the property in search of owls.  Next year - OK, Cute Hubby?

The perfect way to celebrate 10 years of birding and each other - thanks, Buddy!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Great Backyard Bird Count!!!

Please don't forget! This weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count, a celebration of late winter and, we hope, the arrival of spring soon.

Lisa and I will be trying to see the first ever Virginias Warbler in Maryland.

But whatever we see, and you see, IT IS ALL GOOD.

Learn more at Www.bird

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Seeing Red...

File:Scarlet ibis arp.jpg

File:Cardinalis cardinalis -Columbus, Ohio, USA-male-8 (1).jpg

Happy Valentine's Day!
~BirdCouple's favorite holiday!

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Kingbird that was not to be...

Yes, this is what a Western Kingbird looks like and it is a darn good bird for Maryland.  He also really enjoyed hanging out at a waste treatment plant.

Now, I always tease Cute Husband that he takes me to the most romantic places on earth.  Marshes, swamps, landfills and waster water treatment plants.  But, the Hulock Sewage Treatment plant ranked up there with the most visits... three in a three week period.... all in search of Mr. Western Kingbird.

We walked round and round the ponds of settling sewage.  On most of our attempts, the weather was mild, but on the last try the wind was whipping and creating small white caps of brown water, which seemed to have no ill effects on the thousands of Tundra Swans who used the ponds as a resting area. 

We dipped again and guessed that the bird had finally taken the last of the insects our mild winter was producing.  OK, you can't have it all.

That is until we ran into this gentleman who was searching for the Barnacle Goose with us.  He immediately said, "Oh, I recognize you two!  You were on the other side of the sewage ponds as I was looking at the Western Kingbird!"


We went pelagic-ing last weekend!   More to come on cold rough water birding...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bad, bad seed

Birdcouple has been bad about blogging lately and we pledge to do better. Basically, when Lisa and I are not working, we are ... birding. Warren is rolling along in his Maryland big year, with 121 species identified and a pelagic trip awaiting us on Saturday.

In case you missed it, there's been some really disturbing news on the bird feeding front:  As you can read here, Scott's Miracle-Gro recently agreed to pay $4.5 million in fines in a case that included its distribution of millions of units of bird seed that contained pesticides that are toxic to birds. Most disturbingly, the company was warned of the problem with the chemicals - meant to stop insects from eating the seed in storage - by its own employees. Part of the funds, $500k, will go to groups to pay for bird conservation and protection.

According to this article, the American Bird Conservancy - great group! - last year announced the results of a study of bird seed samples, in light of the Scott's case and similar ones. The samples tested were found to have no toxic chemicals or only trace amounts.

Phew. Let's keep it that way.