Sunday, February 21, 2010

Snow Bunting

For lack of more creative title, I went with the obvious: "Snow Bunting." But today was much more than just a cool little bird from up North.This morning I brewed the coffee and packed up my obliging (and adorable) kids into the Volvo. My lover and I were off on a family birding adventure. My lover, of course, being my loverly wife Emery.Declan and Isla were thrilled to go out for a drive. (After being pent up in the house for so long with all of the recent snows, it's no wonder.) Oh the things Declan would be able to see on our drive South! Fire trucks. School buses. Bald Eagles. Jet planes. Snow Bunting. Helicopters. Peregrine Falcon. Big bridge and oh those BIG Machines! It was one amazing thing after another for him today. So much so he needed two naps, one each way, during our drive. It's exhausting looking at stuff.This morning we decided to visit to Point Lookout State Park on the Southern-most tip of the Western Shore of Maryland. That's in St. Mary's County, for those of you without a map. There we enjoyed some snacks, a nice walk and the beautiful setting of the Chesapeake Bay where it meets the Potomac River.And oh yes, a SNOW BUNTING.I've been looking for one of these all winter. It was (as it is with most birds I try to find), worth the wait.Before I venture off to bed... two quick things. ABOVE is a photo of a most-welcome visitor to my yard last week: an AMERICAN TREE SPARROW. Lastly, while racing through the internet I stumbled upon this Canadian's website. His photos are AMAZING. Check out this photo of a GYRFALCON catching an IVORY GULL! Say what?!?! An amazing sight to imagine, let alone witness and photograph. His name is Brandon Holden and he's got some incredible photos on his website. Newfoundland sure sounds nice this time of year. Cold too. But judging by his photos, I'd say the chill is well worth it.

-Dan

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lapland Longspurs and Painted Buntings: Maryland's Odd Couple

They look alike, in a buntingly, sparrowish sort of way. Okay, they don't look at all similar, but they are both here in Maryland at the moment. One is rather drab in the winter, so as to blend in with it's habitat. The other looks like a clown painting a rainbow... the full box of crayons... America's own technicolor feathered wonder.

Yes, one bird spends it days foraging in the open corn fields with the likes of Horned Larks. Or, the case may be lately with all this snow... on the side of roads in Queen Anne's County; the LAPLAND LONGSPUR.The other bird summers on the coast of Carolinas down into Texas; the PAINTED BUNTING.During the summer, these most brilliantly-plumaged birds boastfully sing from the tops of any suitable coastal scrub or tree. But in the dead of winter, it's too cold to sing and skulking deep in the brush is preferred. Unless it's time for a snack, in which case a feeder in Bowie will do just the trick.In other news, the blizzards of 2010 brought two great birds to the Haas estate: a FIELD SPARROW and an absolutely magnificent AMERICAN TREE SPARROW. More on those characters in a future post. Until such time, do have yourself a great week. Must fly now...Dan

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Today's Forecast: Varied Thrush

Frank Marenghi and I drove to Herndon, Virginia to see a slightly-off-course VARIED THRUSH this morning. Typically observed in the Pacific Northwest, this bird has been frequenting a suet feeder in a neighborhood just outside of DC.

The homeowners were super obliging to the many birder guests present. They even had fresh coffee and donuts for us! I didn't partake, but was nevertheless impressed with that famous Southern hospitality. These photos below were taken on an overcast, gray morning through their kitchen window.

Impressive little bird. Enjoy!

-Dan

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