Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Operation Rare Hummingbird

This mission of mine has been two years in the making. I have decided to slowly change over the garden plots that the previous owner of our home created in order to lure fantastically rare hummingbirds in the fall.As our local breeding species, the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds head South, there is an ever-so-small chance that a vagrant species from the Western portion of the continent will fly their way EAST instead of SOUTH.When any vagrant bird arrives in our neck of the woods, they usually pause for a moment at the Bay, and then again at the Atlantic Ocean. Since Annapolis sits on the Chesapeake Bay, I figured that at the very least, I've got a shot.It's a long shot, but anything is possible! So I planted. I planted anything I could get my hands on, that was known to attract hummers.I took over sections of my yard that aren't really mine.BG&E might get upset that I planted a vine to climb the telephone poll... but in exchange, I've let them put a regulator on my air conditioner.I figure that it evens out in the end. I've fed the RUBY-THROATS well over the past few months. Yesterday, my wife saw one visit about 2PM and before that, Saturday was out last visit by a RUBY-THROAT. They are getting few and far between now, which means one thing: I must begin to keep a vigilant watch on my constantly-maintained hummingbird feeders. I'll be putting up more fake flowers on the roof to lure them in (by sight) if they should be commuting overhead. I even planted a rare plant from South America... or somewhere not local. I know, I know... terrible not to be native.But this is serious stuff here and I am hopeful that my horticultural grand experiment pays off. If not this year, than sometime soon. Really, the worst side effect of this madness of mine: a yard filled with late blooming red flowers. How awful, right? For the record, Jim Stasz, Maryland's preeminent birder, recommends Pineapple Sage, also known as Salvia elegans. I have several of these in the backyard ready to attract any nectar-loving Hummingbirds from any of the following Genus: Heliomaster, Colibri, Calothorax, Cynanthus, Hylocharis, Lampornis, Eugenes, Amazilia, Calypte and even Archilochus, Stellula. But more than likely, my best (and only) bet would be a Genus Selaphorous.Wish me luck! I'll keep you all posted on any surprise guests to the feeders.I will keep at least six feeders up and running until the new year. After that, I'll start my preparations for next year.

Don't even get me started on the seeds. I'll have thistle sock feeders hanging from the Maple. Six bags hung vertically proved successful at attracting Pine Siskins. I spread seed on the ground which brought in two White-crowned Sparrows and even a Grasshopper Sparrow to the back yard. I didn't plant them, but the pines and hemlocks across the street were successful at bringing in the White-winged Crossbills last winter as well. Lastly, there are forecasts that predict that this winter could be the coldest in over a decade. Hmm... cold, but at least it might bring in some rare birds. Always look on the bright side...

-Dan

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fall Migration.

So here are a few birds recently observed. Thank you Matt Hafner for helping me with my identification skills.

Next three photos: VEERY.Next three photos: Acadian Flycatcher. Note the larger bill, primary projection, whitish throat and overall greenish hue.Next two photos: Chris Murray thought Gray-cheeked Thrush. I suspected Swainson's Thrush (wrong), but Chris pointed out that there is no pale spot in the lores. He is correct. Gray-cheeked Thrush. I found this blog this morning that has some nice side-by-side comparisons that make identifying thrushes much easier. It can be found HERE.The purpose of this blogging exercise is to become a better birder. One hopefully learns about particular identification point to key in on with certain species in the field. With experience and knowledge, these thrushes and flycatchers will become less-tricky to identify. The camera is a fantastic tool for honing one's skills. I'm enjoying the wisdom provided by careful examination of each photo.

As for the rest of these photos, let's start with a dragonfly that I photographed a short while ago at Piney Orchard Nature Preserve in Anne Arundel County. I know the bird isn't 'really' hamming it up for my camera, but from the looks of it's facial expression, I wonder. Note, I've not even begun to tackle bug ID's yet. With my son's fascination with things that crawl, fly, hop and flit... this 'learning about bugs' thing might come sooner than I think.The following three photos are of a COMMON NIGHTHAWK found by Mikey Lutmerding roosting in a tree at Prince George's County's migrant hotspot, Governor Bridge Road Natural Area.Here is the YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHTHERON that has been hanging around in the North Beach Marsh, just inside Calvert County. Oh so close to Anne Arundel!I'm going to miss all of the fly-catching birds, but not necessarily the flies and mosquitos!That's all I have for you at the moment.

Isla, Declan and Emery are all doing fantastic. Declan is really becoming quite the entertainer. Isla is beginning to smile and has (just today in fact) starting to really look at her Mom and Dad. Such wonderfulness.

We hope you are all well!

-Dan

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Old News

I saw this bird, a SWAINSON'S WARBLER, at the GREEN SWAMP in Southeastern North Carolina this summer. Proof that pishing works!Best,

Dan

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Piney Orchard Nature Preserve

This past Labor Day Monday, I spent the afternoon hiking through Western Anne Arundel's Piney Orchard Nature Preserve. There have been reports of a RING-NECKED PHEASANT roaming around the place. That bird and I didn't cross paths, but I did see loads of Eastern Wood Pewees, Chickadees and the other expected avian transients and residents. A Barred Owl couple even hooted back for me briefly.

Here are some highlights:

A juvenile WHITE-EYED VIREO.An adult of the same species, with the stunning white eyes.A ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK.Same bird, new look!An Ovenbird.

In addition to these beauties, the highlight was a SUMMER TANAGER that perched for one brief moment on the very same snag that the Grosbeak was on in the above photos. It was pouring rain and I had my camera under my shirt to keep it somewhat dry, therefore... no pretty pictures to show for it.

Hope you are well.

Dan

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