Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I haven't been this excited to see a BOOBY since... since... well, it's been a long time. I could look at BOOBIES all day long really. I never tire of them. Masked Booby, Blue-footed Booby, Red-footed or Brown Booby. I like BOOBIES of all shapes, colors and sizes.Why all this BOOBY talk, you ask? Well, there has been some questionable sightings of a State record bird, the BROWN BOOBY (Sula leucogaster), off the coast of Assateague National Seashore.I was there this past Sunday morning at 6:45 AM looking for (at) this bird in question. My photos are terrible, but since when have you ever turned down the opportunity to look at blurry Booby photos? Hmmm, exactly. After I enjoyed the bird flapping around, then gliding for a bit, then a lot more flapping, I had my own quiet celebration. In my humble opinion, this bird couldn't be further from it's more-expected relative, the NORTHERN GANNETT. The bird banked ever-so-slightly, revealing a contrasting lighter belly, merely one identification marker that is indicative of a BROWN BOOBY.A minute later, my friend Stan Arnold called to tell me that the bird had been sighted. I took my scope off the ocean and looked up the beach, only to find a dune full of Maryland's finest birders. I soon joined them, as more eyes are better than my eyes alone. (I might rip into a Sheena Easton song soon... think James Bond. Nevermind.)The controversy, or the hearty discussion as it is probably best described, has been if not intense, then certainly thorough, amongst Maryland's finest birders. Some think it's an odd-looking (obviously odd-flying too, since it's so different) NORTHERN GANNETT. For comparison, we were lucky enough to have a NORTHERN GANNETT fly by on Sunday, just a short while after our 'possible' Brown Booby sighting. The two flight patterns could not have been more different. Okay, the Booby could've done loop-de-loops... but really, we're talking apples to acai fruit here.Now, I have neither the credibility, or the experience in the field to call this blurry mess a BROWN BOOBY. But either way, it made for a really fun weekend.All the best,


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Swallow-Tailed Kite Tale

Most times, birding (or the search for a particular bird) involves trekking through weeds, brush, grass, forest, swamps, etc. Other times, it requires hours with your eyes pressed into binoculars or a scope. My least favorite type of birding would be trying to pick out a ROSS' GOOSE amongst several thousand SNOW GEESE. Ugh. More often than not, birding is all about patience, research, preparation and experience. Too often, my wife thinks, it translates to me spending several hours covered in bug spray and sun screen far away from home.I'm not the most careful birder, and certainly not the best at identification... (as evidenced by several recent identification blunders) but I do enjoy it when my preparation and research pays off.Take for example this SWALLOW-TAILED KITE that my family and I saw recently on our North Carolina vacation. I did my research for this species, noting it's habits and haunts. I scoured (okay, I googled) the internet looking for clues as to where the best chances were to possibly see one of these magnificent fliers.Lock 1 Road, just outside of Wilmington, NC was one such site where recent sightings had been reported. Since it's right on the Cape Fear river, and the habitat looked good, I figured it was worth making the special request to my wife for a family visit. So I told her it was only a ten or fifteen minute diversion from our beeline path from Annapolis to Holden Beach, NC.It was about an hour off course, but well-worth the extra time and travel.As soon as arrived, we visited the local rest area. I pointed out to my wife a soaring MISSISSIPPI KITE. Looking up, she asked, "What's that?" "Great spot Em!" I answered, "That's an ANHINGA." But before all these great birds could be thoroughly enjoyed, a different kind of nature was calling. It was, after all, a very long drive that day.I walked out of the bathroom (like you needed those details?) and thought to myself, "I sure hope finding this bird doesn't take hours, because it's crazy hot and humid and I don't think Emery and Declan will be too patient with me!"I looked up. SWOOSH! There it was... a SWALLOW-TAILED KITE. Mere feet above my head. I sprinted to the car and grabbed my camera (*set to 'overexpose') and fired off as many shots as possible, before the bird eventually flew off into the surrounding trees.Tomorrow:
The story of my misidentified ____ (fill in the blank)_____.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Plethora of Painted Buntings

While my wife, son and extended family rested on a beach in North Carolina (Holden Beach, to be more specific), I went out birding. Here are some photos of just a few of the birds I observed.


And others, like a COMMON MOORHEN, a LAUGHING GULL and a WOOD STORK who both liked my jokes so much they laughed and laughed and laughed, a HOODED WARBLER and a pair of LEAST TERNS.Even the Squirrels looked strangely different.And tomorrow, I'll tell you all about the SWALLOW-TAILED KITE that Emery, Declan and I added to our life list (on the first day of our vacation).


Sunset Beach, NC Loggerhead Shrike Nest

While vacationing in North Carolina this past June, I was delighted to find a LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE nest with three chicks and two parents at a birding hotspot, Sunset Beach. I took some photos and then returned a few days later to note their progress. The nest looked to be destroyed upon my second visit, but all three chicks were out and about having a fine time of it. Here are some photos of the event. Enjoy.Incidentally, there is an interesting program going on up North relating to the breeding of these threatened birds in Canada. One can learn more about it HERE.


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