Friday, November 30, 2007

No Leaves = More Raptors

Ah, autumn. It's cool. Orange and auburn colored leaves are falling fast from the tree limbs that held them all summer.

And while that's all well and good, the fun part is being able to see the raptors perched in the trees. Even at highway speeds, these magnificent birds of prey are easy to spot.

This afternoon, on my way home from work, I saw a RED SHOULDERED HAWK perched on a power line across the street from the Annapolis Police Department. And, while I know that there were never any leaves on the power lines, thus not making it any easier to spot a bird from the road, I was nevertheless impressed.

Here are a few shots taken with my trusty iPhone pressed firmly against Pentax binoculars.



Have a great weekend.

Dan

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Gosh, no hawk...

But how does three RED TAILED HAWKS, a COOPERS flying low, and one RED SHOULDERED HAWK soaring (all near BWI) sound? Yes, there was no NORTHERN GOSHAWK to be found. But, I'll keep a close watch.

I did manage to see one of my favorites, an AMERICAN KESTREL, on Fort Meade, near the intersection of Routes 175 and 32. Ah, another typical day at the office, driving from school to school. I love my job. I am birding and selling, selling and birding. What could be better?

WOW! Just a moment ago, while I was typing, I heard three birds smack into my kitchen window. Yes, there are deterrents on them. I knew something was up. When I ran out to see what was going on, I saw a COOPERS HAWK fly out of the large juniper trees in my back yard. I don't know if he had his breakfast with him, or if he needed to continue to hunt, but talk about sneaky. I now know this bird's strategy. My home is "U" shaped, so he flies his prey IN to this area where there is little escape. This bird is slightly small for a COOPERS, so I am assuming that it is a HE. Anyway, these little poor little house sparrows... their only hope is that my kitchen window is open. It's not usually open in the winter. (That's bad for the heating bills). Interesting morning!

Here are some photos of yesterday's birds. Taken with a camera pressed up to one side of my binocs. Tricky, eh? No. More like overexposed.

RED TAILED HAWK at BWI

AMERICAN KESTREL at FT MEADE

Good Birding,

Dan

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Peace in Annapolis

Greetings,

The Mideast Peace process in underway here in beautiful, historic Annapolis, MD. There are unmarked police cars parked throughout the City (so watch your speed). But the best part is the military helicopters patrolling the skies around town. It's loud. Being the airplane fanatic that I am, I welcome the new visitors to our airspace over West Annapolis. So what if its not the same old Tuesday morning around here... at least it's peaceful.

I sincerely hope that those powerful leaders work out each and every one of their differences today. If they focused more of their energy and emotion on the environment, or better yet... birds, this world would be a far better place.

So with all this peace and love that's seemingly flowing out of the City of Annapolis tap water, I must admit, I'm headed out the door to work in Baltimore and Northern Anne Arundel. It's too peaceful around here.

Dan

PS: There might be a Northern Goshawk at BWI. I read it on MDOSPREY. I am guessing the bird missed his flight.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Scauping, Not Shopping

Emery and I spent a lovely day just South of Grasonville at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center (formerly known as Horsehead). Our walk was simply splendid. And the crowds? Well, the trails were a lot less crowded than the mall.

Oh and for Christmas, I want you all to know that we haven't gotten you a thing! Yet.

Here is the complete list of the birds that we saw:
Canada Goose 16
Mute Swan 2
Tundra Swan 115
Canvasback 30
Greater Scaup 5
Bufflehead 45
Common Merganser 2
Common Loon 1
Double-crested Cormorant 3
Great Blue Heron 3
Black Vulture 2
Turkey Vulture 4
Bald Eagle 1
Northern Harrier 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 2
Laughing Gull 1
Herring Gull 2
Belted Kingfisher 2
Northern Flicker 4
American Crow 2
Carolina Chickadee 3
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Brown-headed Nuthatch 3
Carolina Wren 4
Winter Wren 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Eastern Bluebird 1
American Robin 3
Northern Mockingbird 7
European Starling 5
American Pipit 3
Yellow-rumped Warbler 20
Palm Warbler 1
Song Sparrow 3
Swamp Sparrow 2
White-throated Sparrow 8
Dark-eyed Junco 5
Northern Cardinal 2
Red-winged Blackbird 1
Common Grackle 19
House Finch 1
American Goldfinch 2
43 Species


Later, we returned home only to watch a disoriented, lackluster flock of Common Ravens get mobbed by a gaggle of aggressive San Diego Chargers. Blah! What an ugly scene.

I'll leave you with a nicer image from today's BIRDCAM!Good Birding!

Dan

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fat Birder

I just decided to become a member of the Fat Birder Web Ring. It sounds mighty interesting. I hope you enjoy it. If at all possible, I'll continue to move the blog around a little bit, perhaps adding a new focus here and there. If you've got suggestions, by all means, let me know.

Enjoy the late fall migration! I'm going to try to see a Cave Swallow today.

Dan
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Thursday, November 22, 2007

BirdCam Photos of the Week, etc.

Happy Thanksgiving all! I hope you have a wonderful day both seeing and eating birds. This is, of course, only if you are eating Turkey or House Sparrows. I kid. I kid. House Sparrows are not filling in the least!

Below are some of the more interesting photographs from my Wingscapes BIRDCAM. If you are thinking about a gift for the birder, naturalist or photographer in your life, get the BIRDCAM. The link is over there on the right. Get one. It's a hoot.



Happy Thanksgiving!

Dan

Monday, November 19, 2007

Few things in life are better...

NPR has a great story about how something as delicious as chocolate can help save the world. CHOCOLATE! Now starting eating people.

-Dan

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Falcon on the Bridge?

While I was out birding Greenbury Point on Saturday morning, I believe I scoped a PEREGRINE FALCON fly and then land on one of the towers on the West Bound span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The distance however, made confirming that ID impossible. That said, I feel like I've got some experience watching PEREGRINES fly and land on or near bridges.So why post this, you ask? Well, the next time you are on the Bay Bridge, maybe you could (*or preferrably your passenger) take a look at the tops of the spans to see if a large raptor with a striking brown moustache is present. If you observe one, let me know.

All the best,

Dan

Friday, November 16, 2007

uh oh

THIS is not good. All in favor of changing your own personal habits, making sacrifices and taking care of our planet... it's time to get active.

I was birding today at Greenbury Point. In a few months, our Navy will remove several fields, a mulching facility and some rather important natural space. In their place, two turf rugby fields (one impervious fake grass, the other simply environmentally unfriendly, fertilizer-craving, water-runoff loving grass), some bright lights (for safety at night) and some asphalt for parking cars (it's doubtful that they'll be a bike rack anywhere). Oh, super.

While I was hiking the point this morning, I noticed that the summer's green growth is dying off. The leaves are falling to ground. Revealled in their absence are a slew of empty plastic bottles, bags, wrappers, trash and refuse left behind by some idiot(s) who could care less about taking care of (what is left of) the wild spaces in our area. It's beyond frustrating. It's disturbing that all too often, some human beings are nothing more than destructive, careless, inconsiderate and lazy.

In some cases, it's someone who carelessly throws their used water bottle into the bushes. In other cases, it's a developer who thinks rugby fields and asphalt are more important than a nature trail and a wild meadow for Northern Bobwhite, Eastern Bluebirds, American Kestrel and Tree Swallows to breed. In too many instances, it's a developer who thinks what the world around here needs is another housing development, road, shopping center, business park, etc. At some point, our consumption will consume us, and we will be forced to alter our lifestyles.

Instead of a new highway, maybe we should be thinking about new ways to travel? Instead of a sprawling community of houses, maybe we could rebuild old, run-down neighborhoods? Instead of sprawling business parks, storage facilities and strip malls, maybe we could concentrate our developments? Wild ideas, I know.

Turn on the news and you'll hear a flow of reports about looming droughts, famine, floods, Global Warming, toxic waste, obesity, pollution, hurricanes, species extinction and other, even more alarming abuses of nature.

I'm sure the folks that left their empty gatorade bottles and doritos bags on the trails of Greenbury Point will pay little mind to those warnings. Or maybe these lazy polluters, as well as other folks like developers, government officials and even us consumers will wise up. With any luck, they'll care deeply about future generations and the planet they'll hopefully enjoy. Perhaps then, they'll wise up and realize the consequences of their action (and in some cases, inaction). This planet isn't ours to trash.

We're only renters. Our responsibility is much larger than merely taking care of ourselves.

The basic idea here is it's time to think differently about our consumption, the challenges that go along with population growth and the need to dramatically decrease the destruction of the world's natural resources.

Consume less, enjoy more. Sounds like a contradiction, but really it's common sense. I'm not throwing stones here (or empty water bottles). I am making changes in my own day-to-day life when it comes to consumption. It's not going to be easy, but it will surely be rewarding for both myself, my family and future generations.
-Dan

Florida Birding

I was in Orlando, Florida all week for the School Specialty National Sales Meeting. In between meetings and in the afternoons, I spent my time walking around the resort birding. I give kudos to my company for putting us in a resort right next to a preserve. I saw:

Mallard
Wild Turkey
Double-crested Cormorant
Anhinga *
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Cattle Egret
White Ibis
Wood Stork
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Common Moorhen *
American Coot *
Limpkin *
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Belted Kingfisher
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue Jay
American Crow
Carolina Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Pine Warbler
Palm Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Northern Cardinal
Common Grackle
Boat-tailed Grackle
House Sparrow
44 species with FOUR LIFE BIRDS.

(Hey, I'm new at this birding in FLA thing)


So, if you absolutely must stay at Disney in the future, might I suggest the Coronado Springs Resort? It's quite nice, bird-wise and has fine meeting rooms too!

Ok, so now that that's over with, I am delighted to report that Oiseau and I finally had a PINE SISKIN on the WINDOW FEEDER today. My dog hopped up on the counter to inspect and confirm the sighting. He and I both agree, without-a-doubt, that it was a SISKIN!

I do, however, have some questions on this past week's BIRDCAM expedition. Whilst I was enjoying sunny, warm Florida, a few guests arrived that, well... what do you see?



It's good to be home!

Good Birding,

Dan

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Waiting for Siskin

Here I've been... waiting all week for the PINE SISKINS, RED CROSSBILLS, PURPLE FINCHES and EVENING GROSBEAKS to visit my feeders. All that's been eating my thistle, suet and sunflower seeds, it would seem, are HOUSE SPARROWS (HOSP). Earlier in the week, there were about 9 of HOSP. The past two days have produced numbers well into the 30's. I figure by the end of the week, HOUSE SPARROWS will number in the thousands!
Where is that COOPER'S HAWK when I need him?

I'm not complaining, mind you. It never gets old to see some BLUE JAYS, CARDINALS, HOUSE FINCHES, WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS, CHICKADEES, TUFTED TITMICE, DOWNY WOODPECKERS, SONG SPARROWS, GOLDFINCHES, DARK EYED JUNCOS & CAROLINA WRENS. (Impressive, right?? Movie action from the BIRDCAM. Is there no limit to the fun???)

But reports of the SISKINS and PURPLE FINCHES arrival around our region are being posted posted daily on MDOSPREY! Maybe SISKINS avoid areas where dense populations of HOUSE SPARROWS exist? Maybe they've seen the COOPERS HAWK and decided to venture of to nuttier pastures? As you can see, I've lost half of the pine tree in last winter's ice storm. Could it be a lack of pine cones in the yard?

With both eyes fixed on the feeders, Emery and I will be here in Annapolis, anticpating the arrival of Mr. Siskin and his Boreal friends.Good Birding,

Dan

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Southern MD: Another Day At The Office

I did quite a bit of driving today for School Specialty. My car and I visited Maryland's Southern-most school, Ridge Elementary in St. Mary's County. In between all of today's many school visits, the birds were showing themselves often (even at the posted speed limits).

TOP HONORS go to: An American Kestrel, two Red Shouldered Hawks, two Red Tailed Hawks, a Coopers Hawk, four Bald Eagles, one Palm Warbler, a Brown Creeper and six Brown Pelicans.

The most cooperative bird of the day (was a tie): An American Kestrel in Calvert County offered me a superb view for several minutes. This brilliantly colored raptor perched on a telephone wire approximately 30 feet away, across the street from my idling car on the roadside.

The other rather cooperative raptor was a Red Shouldered Hawk in St. Mary's County. The bird stood out on the skyline as I drove on Route 5. It was perched in a dead tree near a bar called the Green something or other. Might have been the green 'door' or 'shed'? I'm sure they have excellent food.

In any case, the traffic was light, so I pulled into the parking lot for a much closer look. This Red-Shoulder was having a time of it, jumping around on a junk pile, then to the ground to eat something it pulled from the grass. And then it was back on the junk pile and repeat. It was quite entertaining and since all this was happening some 15-20 feet in front of my car, I snapped two photos from my trusty iPhone. Enjoy!
One thing I feel I should mention: the water on the Potomac side of Point Lookout is clear. The bottom is visible, even where the depths are two feet and more. If only the upper parts of the Chesapeake enjoyed that same clarity.

Good Birding,

Dan

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

HAMS for CAMS

It's only a matter of time until my BIRDCAM captures a photo of the resident COOPERS HAWK. For the second time in three days, I've come within five feet of the neighborhood songbird snatcher. Let me explain.

This afternoon, upon my return home from work, the dogs and I went for a brief walk. As soon as we returned, I made my way to the backyard. It was time to snatch up the BIRDCAM. Ah yes... it's always a thrill to see what rarity paid a visit to the feeders while I visited schools. "MEMORY FULL," said the BIRDCAM. Thoughts of Northern Shrikes and Pine Siskins, Evening Grosbeaks and Red Crossbills danced in my head. I just knew some fine candid shots would soon appear in iPhoto.

At that very moment, the birds in the evergreen behind me started to chirp like mad!

The chorus of squeaks and songs sounded stranger than normal. No, it wasn't the typical, "Hey everyone, here comes that guy to fetch that camera thing!," or, "Watch out, it looks like were getting refills on seed and water! Bath anyone?"

Instead, the singing and screaming sounded quite worrisome. I couldn't PISH this well if I practiced for a year! I wondered, "What on earth are these birds carrying on abou.. huh?"

Eh...

When I turned around to investigate, I was surprised to find the COOPERS HAWK perched in the Juniper trees that line the back yard. This magestic bird was three thrilling footsteps away from where I stood, in awe. Here (below) is an idea of what I saw, thanks to a little Mac magic and a Bill Hubick photo!Since both of us were a bit excited to see each other, one of us had to finch... I mean, FLINCH.

Anyway, the bird took off. He (or she) flew directly over my roof, and suddenly swooped down and to the left. Imagine a WWII fighter pilot banking and diving in his P-51 Mustang and you've got a pretty good visual. The hawk, obviously still hungry, headed towards the HOUSE SPARROW infested rose bushes out front. These are the same bushes where I'd spied the raptor earlier this week.

Tomorrow I will attempt to place the camera with hopes of catching the hawk in action. I will also be leaving the hawk a recipe for some HOUSE SPARROW sushi. Yum.

Meantime, enjoy a few pics of today's birds hamming it up for the BIRDCAM.


Soon I will begin to really experiment with this BIRD CAM. I'm thinking video mode is next!

Good Birding,

Dan

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

While Admiring Kestrels Sunday, BirdCam Snaps Rarity

Sunday was spent birding the Eastern Shore with none other than Warren & Lisa (The Bird Couple!) Strobel. We tried to spy the RED PHALAROPE and the AMERICAN AVOCETS that had been visiting Blackwater Refuge (no, not that agency that has a bad reputation for protecting diplomats in Iraq, the REFUGE) just South of Cambridge, MD on Saturday.

It certainly was a fine day. A VESPER SPARROW was a great find. Spotting a few AMERICAN KESTREL (see photo below) along the way just makes me happy (they're a favorite of mine). But witnessing a RED TAILED HAWK stealing a meal from a MERLIN in the parking lot of the Blackwater Refuge Visitor Center?... Well that's just too much fun.

What was the highlight, you ask, of the entire weekend??? Easy. It would have to be when my BirdCam captured a very rare bird on my thistle feeder: A KISSING EMERY BIRD. Some would argue that it's global warming. Other the destruction of the forests and grasslands throughout North America. Perhaps. I just happen to believe this bird loves me.

Ahh, add one more reason that a BirdCam is a must-have for anyone with a yard.

-Dan

THE FIELD WHERE THE KESTREL & VESPER SPARROW WERE SPOTTED!

TWO BIRDS ON THE THISTLE

MALE DOWNY WOODPECKER

ALAS... A RARE, ELUSIVE KISSING EMERY BIRD

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Birds in Flight and Wedding Delight

Yes, this installment of the Wahzoh Bird Blog is all about 'action' photos from the BirdCam and of course, some moments from last Saturday's wedding!

Part 1:
Photos of birds in flight taken from my trusty Wingscapes BIRDCAM.

Do you love the neighbors pick up truck? Oh yeah!




Part 2:
More Wedding Photos! (by request).


Here I am pinning on my Mom's corsage.

Emery sure is beautiful. I am a lucky man.

Em and I speaking with my Dad after our wedding.

(Special Thank You's to Larry Melton for those wedding photographs!)

I trust that you enjoyed your Saturday... wherever you may have spent it!

All the best,

Dan

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