Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sandy Point in the Snow

After the twenty odd inches of frozen precipitation that Maryland received this weekend, Chris Murray and I decided to venture out late this afternoon for some local snow-filled birding. Sandy Point seemed like a safe bet.With almost all available field and forest covered with the white stuff, I figured that the beach area where the water kept the snow from piling up, might be a great spot for hungry foragers. We were not disappointed. We found one, possibly two, HORNED LARK and two SAVANNAH SPARROWS enjoying whatever morsels they could find in the sand.We returned home, backs aching from shoveling snow, and legs destroyed from hiking through knee-deep snow drifts. Sleep and some Advil will be most welcome this evening. And the best news of all... no school tomorrow.Declan and I will see you on the sledding hill!

-Dan

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Odd Goldeneye in Queen Anne's County

There was an interesting post from Harry Armistead on the MDOSPREY listserv earlier this week.

It read, "I just had a call from Lou Carpenter of York, PA, who asked that I post this information on MDOSPREY. At 12:30, Monday, December 14, he saw 2 female goldeneyes at Jackson Creek Public Landing (east side), Kent Island, Queen Annes County. One had an all yellow bill. He's not saying this is a Barrow's Goldeneye but wanted it reported so that others might secure a better look at other features, such as the head profile and the pattern of white on the upper wing. He saw these 2 birds, no males present, at c. 200 yards through a 40X Bushnell scope. - Best to all. - Harry Armistead, Philadelphia."Today, I was driving back from a meeting in Salisbury and thought I'd stop off at Jackson Landing Road to investigate this sighting. The temps felt like the 20's and the winds were burning cold straight through my clothing. My face felt sunburned and my fingers ached as I tried to take some photos of this bird. It stayed a great distance away, but here are a few photos from this afternoon.I took these poor quality photos and sent them in an email to some of my more experienced birder friends. Matt Hafner was kind enough to reply with the following welcomed information: "Hey Dan, I'm far from a goldeneye expert, but this strikes me as a Common Goldeneye. I've only seen one like this before, but Steve Collins photographed one at Conowingo a few years ago. Photos HERE. Basically, the bill looks very long and the head shape seems to better fit Common. It is very triangular with a point over the eye. Thanks for going to check it out. I'm surprised someone hasn't already. -Matt"Despite it being completely yellow-orange in color, this Goldeneye's bill looked massive compared to what I would expect for a BARROWS GOLDENEYE. My only experience with a BARROWS were last winter's male BARROWS in Calvert County and female BARROWS in Dorchester County. Those two birds had cute, little bills and a strikingly different pushed-forward forehead.Click on any of the photos for slightly larger versions.

Good Birding,

Dan

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