Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2011 is Fast Approaching

But that doesn't mean there are still a few good birding days left. Sure, I could camp out at the OC Inlet to try for a few alcids, or I could drive hours and hours out West only to get snubbed by the elusive (I'm not sure if they really even exist) Ruffed Grouse!Well, no... I'm saving on gas. This morning Warren Strobel, one-half of THE BIRDCOUPLE, joined me for a chilly search through gulls and ducks at Sandy Point State Park, and later through passerine flocks in the North Tract of the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge.Thursday I'll be doing the Bowie Christmas Bird Count and Friday... well, who knows?? Maybe I'll chase one last year bird. I hope you had as wonderful a year as I did. May 2011 be even better!Much like this Red-breasted Nuthatch, you'd better get some shut eye before the big partying starts on December 31st!

Best,

Dan

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Declan and the Northern Wheatear

Declan and I went to Wilmington to see a bird. The bird was a NORTHERN WHEATEAR. They breed in Northern Canada, Greenland and Alaska. They winter in sub-Saharan Africa. Go ahead... check out a map and you will better understand why it is so impressive to have one of these birds land in our region.This bird was the 2nd sighting EVER recorded in the great state of Delaware. The first sighting was by Maryland birder Sam Dyke near the Indian River Inlet on September 21st, 1957.According to Cornell's 'The Birds of North America', "This may be the only regularly breeding passerine bird of North America that migrates to wintering grounds in sub-Saharan Africa, crossing either the Atlantic Ocean or the continent of Eurasia."Birders all over the region are delighted that this one stopped in Wilmington, Delaware. Lucky us, although next time, I'd prefer this bird land in our state. This NORTHERN WHEATEAR was my 100th bird in that flat state just to the East of Maryland, and it was a lifer for both Declan and me.Finally, this falcon (the photos above and below) is far more likely to be observed in our neck of the woods... an AMERICAN KESTREL.Here is Declan, thrilled to have seen such a wonderful wayward migrant, as well as three speeding Acela trains.Merry Christmas!

Dan

Monday, December 20, 2010

Maryland Birding Community Wins GOLD!

A winter hummingbird in Silver Spring! An EARED GREBE in Gaithersburg! A GYRFALCON flew past a hawk watch in PA (headed to Maryland perhaps?). An ICELAND GULL and probable CALIFORNIA GULL at Schoolhouse Pond! WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS and EVENING GROSBEAKS are showing up around the coastal plain.Recently, there was a THAYER'S GULL and an ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER spending their time down at the ocean. A PAINTED BUNTING stopped by a feeder in Calvert County. What's more, SHORT-EARED OWLS and AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS are being reported in various locations in our region. It's getting hard to concentrate.A GLAUCOUS GULL was keeping company with two ICELAND GULLS this weekend at Northeast Community Park in Cecil County! What could possibly top these sightings? I have an idea, but...Yesterday, a truly incredible bird showed up in Kent County. Was it a winter BLUE GROSBEAK? That's wild to think that a bird that should be in Central America is still here... but nope, that's not the bird. A lingering LINCOLN'S SPARROW? Awesome too, but nope. A SHORT-EARED OWL and a BARN OWL enjoying an overgrown field? Fun? Yes, but that's not the bird I'm referencing. How about a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK perched on a farm? Just superb. Nah... not the jaw-dropper.Oh, but that's not the real star of the show. Nope, that honor goes to this GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW. A State-record means that I don't have to explain just how rare and amazing it is to have this bird in Maryland.Discovered by Bruce Peterjohn, this bird was relocated and photographed by several of us. If you get the chance, make plans to go to Chesapeake Farms, just North of Rock Hall in Kent County, MD. But DON'T GET OUT OF YOUR CAR. It's frowned upon by those who own the property.In the meantime, enjoy this photo of a NORTHERN HARRIER departing. Think of it as inspiration as you plan your birding adventure to Kent County, Maryland!Merry Christmas Maryland Birds and those who chase, feed or enjoy them!

-Dan

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sandhill Crane and Black-headed Gull

Here are a few photos of the SANDHILL CRANE that has been present the past few weeks in Northern Carroll County, MD. I observed this massive creature on Friday just as the snow began to fall.Also included here are some photos of the recently discovered BLACK-HEADED GULL in Baltimore County at a place called Paper Mill Flats. After getting a few text messages about the birds rediscovery, I packed the family into the car and drove to Hunt Valley to observe this RARE gull late Saturday afternoon.How happy was I that the bird stayed after it was rediscovered by JIim Stasz, Bill Hubick and Tom Field? Very. The area where the bird was found (by Jon Corcoran) is actually the Northern-most portion of the Loch Raven Reservoir, which is what quenches Baltimore City's thirst for H2O.Happy Holidays!

-Dan

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Purple Sandpipers at the Point

I was happy to see these two shorebirds come flying in off the Thomas Point Lighthouse rocks this afternoon. This pair of PURPLE SANDPIPERS made two loops, but decided to head South down the bay instead of visiting the rocks that line the Thomas Point Park.The LONG-TAILED DUCKS were out on the bay in decent numbers. Check out the tails on these two birds. There was also a hot little REDHEAD, but she was too far away to get any photos. ; )So instead, I'll leave you with a flock of BUFFLEHEADS in flight.Best,
Dan

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ring-necked Pheasant

Did you know that a family of RING-NECKED PHEASANTS live in Southwest Area Park in Baltimore City? It's nice to know that wildlife can still thrive, even in an urban setting like Baltimore hon.-Dan

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