Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Celebrating the GBBC and other great stuff

Goldfinch Photo: Vencka Peterson

Warren and I tore up the weekend birding and playing along the Maryland and Delaware shores. After counting the regulars at our feeders on Saturday morning, we set out for 3 days with a goal of 75 species to tally for the Greater Backyard Bird Count.

Mourning Dove Photo Vencka Peterson
We knew we would pick up a great variety of ducks at Greenbelt Lake, so we went West before hitting the shore. The Lake was great! Close looks at Ringed-Neck Ducks and Hooded Mergansers. Canada Geese and more Canada Geese.

The next big highlight of the trip was outside Easton, where we found a small flock of Horned Larks. Wow, I love that crazy looking bird. After ticking Bald Eagles, Red-Tail and Red-Shoulder Hawks, we made it to the visitor center at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Blackwater is one of our favorite places. The refuge has a great driving path and a beautiful visitor center which sports Bald Eagle nesting cameras.

One our first sightings was the Great Blue Heron munching on an enormous frog. Frogs are unable to sustain energy when the temperature drops, so they burrow underground for protection and go into hibernation until the weather turns warm again. Frogs also lack teeth, so like this Great Blue Heron, they often swallow their meals whole.

BTW, we saw the GBH later, he had finished his lunch and was immobile on the side of the road.

At the Visitor Center, we were told that a Golden Eagle was hanging out at the exit of the refuge. Bird Couple was off! We nailed him right before he flew out of sight over a cornfield. Warren and I were still high-fiving when we realized our car was blocking the exit to the refuge.

Our goal was to make the Ocean City Inlet before dark in hopes of some cool sea ducks. We had views of Surf Scoter, and a flock of Purple Sandpiper.

Did I mention how cold it was? brrrrrrrr.....

Doesn't cute husband look even cuter?

As we packed up, who should show up, but our birding buds Van and Evelina with hot tea! When we realized it was happy hour somewhere, we headed off for beers and that is when my fingers finally started to defrost.
These guys are happy because the birding is great and the both have great gals.

On Sunday morning, we headed again to the inlet at Ocean City and had great looks at both Common and Red-Throated Loons along with a bunch of Ruddy Turnstones. One lone Sanderling was mixed in this motley crew. We also had nice looks at a Peregrine Falcon surveying his territory from the water tower.

We then checked out the Indian Head Inlet where my clever husband quickly id'd a Great Cormorant. That man is always teaching me something.

Did I mention how cold it was?

February 19, 2007 (Warren and I met exactly 5 years ago today!)

Monday we headed to the OC inlet for one more look before heading North through Delaware. We dipped on the Eiders that had been seen a few times, but we did have some lovely looks at Mergansers and some not so lovely looks at tons of Ring- billed Gulls. This time, it was really cold. I mean serious cold.

Inland, Bird Couple!

We went straight to the visitor center at Cape Henlopen State Park. The feeders were rocking with Brown-headed Nuthatch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, House Finch, Chickadee, Red-winged Blackbirds and Cardinals. A bunch of Bluebirds blew in and hung out as an added attraction.

Warren (oh my patient chauffeur) then ferried us to Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge where we hoped to spot the Northern Shrike, aka the butcher bird. He wasn't in the usual spots so we walked through the boardwalk trail and checked out the Green-winged Teal and found a Brown Creeper.

We also flushed a pair of Woodcocks or Snipe or maybe they were Virginia Rails. Ugh! Why can't they just stand still? And, where was a name tag?

We searched without luck for another hour for the Shrike and took a million pictures of a Savannah Sparrow who ran through the field like a mouse. I kept trying to convince cute husband that it was a Seaside Sparrow. Thank goodness that man is a stickler for proper identification. Although, my life list would probably be twice the size.....

Bird Couple was pooped, but not done! We headed home admiring the flocks of Snow Geese and discussing our favorite birds of the trip.

Trip total = 81 species! Goal met!

Five years of wonder, adventure, laughs and joy! Thanks, My Love!


John B. said...

Great trip! I was out at Blackwater on the day a golden eagle was sighted, but I had just left the visitor center before it was seen soaring overhead. I hate it when that happens.

Warren and Lisa Strobel said...

John - Thanks. It was a great trip, but we dipped a fair bit, too. Missed the Harlequin Duck and Eiders at OC Inlet and even worse, the Shrike at Prime Hook NWR....