Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Cuckoo Afternoon.

I'm at 199 species for the year. It's very exciting to speculate... to wonder what bird might be # 200. ROSE BREASTED GROSBEAK, GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, WHITE-WINGED TERN, or perhaps some variety of WARBLER?

Meantime, enjoy these latest to pose for my camera: YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, INDIGO BUNTING & a PRAIRIE WARBLER.
Yes, the YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO has occasionally been known to lay it's eggs in other bird's nests. That gesture isn't very nice, to be sure. But on the bright side, CUCKOOS eat lots of caterpillars. I don't know if you've noticed yet, but this year looks like it's going to be a very bad one for bag worm caterpillars. So... eat up CUCKOO! And if you must, I hope that you lay your CUCKOO eggs in either a EUROPEAN STARLING or a HOUSE SPARROW nest.The INDIGO BUNTING is known to have regional dialects. Basically, when this bird sings, it has a bit of an accent. There is a good chance that the one shown here prolly has a Balmer accent hon.The PRAIRIE WARBLER has a whispy song that increases in speed and pitch. Sadly, this bird is declining in numbers throughout North America. PRAIRIE WARBLERS like shrubby habitat. America is either becoming strip malls, housing developments, farm land or forests. Far too infrequently, grassy fields and shrubby habitat is not thought of as valuable or important.Take Care and plant some shrubs.

Dan

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Peregrine Falcon Aerial Acrobatics

I noticed two exceptionally sleek, thoroughly speedy raptors darting about in the skies above the Greenbury Point this afternoon.At first, I saw only one PEREGRINE FALCON. Or, should I say that IT saw ME?It appeared as if this particular falcon was in the middle of a hunt. Soon, I saw the larger female PEREGRINE join in the fun.These two PEREGRINE FALCONS were streaking across Annapolis' mostly-sunny skies much to my delight.I was hoping to see one or both perform an extended stoop, one of their famous hunting techniques. Instead they performed loads of acrobatics, complete with speedy dives and tight banks. Alas, there were no lead balloon-like plummets for prey while I was observing. Love (not lunch) was in the air.That (above) is a NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW.
This bright fellow below? That'd be a BALTIMORE ORIOLE.The last time I saw one of these BALMER ORYULS so close, I was in the town of Arenal in Costa Rica. As soon as Declan and Emery would like... we will return!Good Birding,

Dan

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Reminders

It was a ROYAL day that I won't soon forget.

TODAY I saw and heard my first CERULEAN WARBLER, one of America's most threatened birds.

Whenever work gets too stressful or whenever I make some big old mistake that needs fixing, I will simply think back to this morning and recall the excitement of seeing this wonderful blue warbler for the first time.

TODAY I saw my first BROAD-WINGED HAWK of the year.

Whenever I am playing a gig and a request to sing an awful song is made by a patron who has had too much to drink, I will think back to this fine overcast morning and find happiness in the memory of seeing this stunning migrant raptor so close.TODAY I went looking for CLIFF SWALLOWS in the skies of Carroll County. Finally finding two of them foraging overhead with some CHIMNEY SWIFTS gave me the internal thrill and satisfaction that goes along with adding one more species of bird to my life list.

TODAY I saw a VEERY. It was very, very nice and it filled me with delight knowing that so many wonderful things share this world with my family and I.TODAY I heard my son DECLAN 'coo' and 'ahh' and 'ayeeeah'. There is nothing in the world that could fill me with love and wonderment and hope and joy more than my son and his mother, my most-amazing wife Emery. Nothing...

When some future TODAY offers up life's inevitable ups and downs, I will be able to look back to a day like TODAY and find the happiness I need to get me through the rough spots.
Have a wonderful week.

Dan

Friday, April 25, 2008

Black-necked Stilt at North Beach Marsh

Special thanks go out to James Tyler Bell for discovering the STILTS and to Jim Stasz for reporting them on MDOSPREY.

IN FLIGHT / STANDING

Have a great weekend.
-Dan

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Barred Owl Photo Shoot

While hiking through the Patuxent River Park off of Governor's Bridge Road in P.G. County I kept hearing BARRED OWLS hooting down by the river. After some exploring, I found a trail that led down to the banks of the Patuxent. That is where the OWL made it's presence more visible. But first, this frog. What species is it?Anyone have the answer, hmmm? WHO WHO WHO knows about this frog? I could look it up, but I will instead await word from you... the frog expert. One thing I do know is that my lovely wife Emery 'cooked for me' tonight! Oh, it's just a bad BARRED OWL joke. Get it? I'll move on.If you ask me, in this next photo... well, it looks as if this BARRED OWL was up all night.This BARRED OWL was quite cooperative and up until the time that we were aware of each other's presence, this nocturnal predator was quite noisy.

Here are a few other birds that were seen this afternoon. There were several BLUE GREY GNATCATCHERS, WHITE-EYED VIREOS and NORTHERN PARULAS. However, two year birds (an ORCHARD ORIOLE and a PRAIRIE WARBLER) didn't pose long enough for a worthy photograph!As the weekend approaches, the migration season continues. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and if you see a great bird... let me know.

Okay, fine... here is the ORCHARD ORIOLE. It was 7:30PM when I got this photo. I wasn't expecting much and I hope you weren't either.

-Dan

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

THE WEEKEND UPDATE

This adult male NORTHERN HARRIER flew over the many who attended this Saturday morning's WALK FOR THE WOODS presented by the SCENIC RIVERS LAND TRUST. Walkers, birders and naturalists alike thoroughly enjoyed this rare visit to the Bacon Ridge Branch in Crownsville, MD. As for this HARRIER, it was one of two adult males making their way North for the summer. Other fun birds seen and heard on Saturday were: BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, HOODED WARBLER, BLACK & WHITE WARBLER, PALM WARBLER and NORTHERN PARULA. I almost forgot... swimming in one of the containment ponds was a hybrid CANADA GOOSE x GREYLAG GOOSE.On Sunday afternoon I spent the afternoon on the Eastern Shore looking for a RUFF. My good friend Andy his fine young son James joined me for a trip to a marsh just East of Easton, Maryland. James actually spotted the WILSON'S SNIPE in the photo below! Here are some visuals from our brief visit.Early this morning I dropped by Schoolhouse Pond and got to see two life birds in five minutes! Wouldn't you know it... I left my camera at home on the shelf.

Not only did a brilliantly-colored PROTHONOTARY WARBLER sing and flit all around me as I walked the boardwalk, a NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH sang and briefly showed itself as well. It was a magnificent morning. As I was leaving a WHITE-EYED VIREO perched mere feet from me to cap off my visit. As of today, I am up to 180 avian species in the state of Maryland in 2008. I'm really loving this migration season. I hope your day was wonderful too.

Good Birding,

Dan

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