Total ABA Species Recorded During 2010 - 731

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cape Charles CBC

Harry Armistead assigned John Spahr and me to do the Kiptopeke State Park section of the Bull's Pond sector of the Cape Charles Christmas Bird Count. It was cold with temperatures not rising much above 40F. The wind was not as severe as it was yesterday, which helped, but I'm glad I was wearing several layers. We managed 61 species for the day with landbirds kinda slow. The water birds were nice and included the young male Common Eider seen in this photo and a single dull-plumaged male Canvasback. Overhead the sky was filled several times with skeins of Snow Geese heading south. Maybe Back Bay NWR will get some of these.
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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel CBC

Today is the date of the annual unofficial Christmas Bird Count on the Chesapeake Bridge Tunnel. Ned Brinkley, Bob Anderson, and I fought the fog for most of the day. It lifted in the middle of the afternoon, but the clarity increased mostly the numbers of birds recorded and not the number of species. At this point I'm not certain how many species were seen, but it was low because of the conditions. The best birds were three Black-legged Kittiwakes that flew over island 4 early in the day. Large numbers of Northern Gannets were in the air all day, but it was difficult to assess how many. Many of the gannets were heard calling as they passed the island. A group of four scoters bobbing near the rocks held all three species - a nice bonus. A couple of harbor seals were seen off the points of the islands.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Nassawadox CBC

Due to wet weather the Great Dismal Swamp CBC was cancelled. The heavy snowstorm last Saturday wiped out many counts including the Washington Birthplace CBC I had made plans to do. So Sunday's Nassawadox CBC was my first count of the season. The wind kept the boat party from getting out, so we were down 10 or so bird species to begin with. John Young, Renee Hudgins and I were assigned the Willis Wharf sector. Andrew Baldelli, who had ridden up with us, ended up going with Bob Anderson since the two people he was to have been with bailed. We had a nice day with Maplewood Gardens providing some nice uninterrupted birding in the woods and field edges. It was there that we had a Purple Finch in the woods and a handful of Brant in a field for the only individuals of those species on the count. We spent a fair amount of time viewing the mud flats at Willis Wharf where we counted 49 Willets and 98 Marbled Godwits, both numbers being low for this count. One of the godwits is the subject of the image. We also saw the only Red Knots of the count here.  As of this writing the count tallied 107 species.
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Friday, December 18, 2009

Back Bay and Backyard

On Wednesday, December 16, Sarah and I conducted an impoundment survey at Back Bay NWR as I do three times a month when I'm available. We had a good mix of waterfowl but no shorebirds and no herons besides Great Blue. The Tundra Swans shown here represent a pair of adults with two young and another pair with no young birds. While I was counting gulls on the flat in C Storage impoundment, a large bird flew in and landed beside the gulls; it was a young Northern Gannet. That was the first time ever that I had seen a gannet land in such a small piece of water.
Today a Brown Pelican landed in our cove back of the house and fed for a time with the ducks. Although pelicans have spent much time, usually in the late fall and winter, flying up and down the Lafayette River, they had yet to come into the cove....until today. The bird is an adult with faded plumage and looked very healthy and totally at ease with the Hooded Mergansers around which it fed. The hoodies didn't seem to mind either.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

View from the Backyard

Today I made the decision to begin the Big Year from the comfort of my house, starting the day with hot coffee and food instead of somewhere, wild and wooly, on the road. There might be a Great Horned Owl vocalizing then, but I'm not very optimistic that any genuine nightbird will be the first bird of the year. My prediction is that it will be, as it has been for most of the recent mornings, an American Crow. Very little gets by them, so an alert member of the clan will realize that a new year has dawned and it's time to check out the neighborhood.
The posted image was motivated by the presence of the Bald Eagle on the channel marker in the Lafayette River. I put the camera on the heavy tripod and used the timed shutter release option. Even with poor light it came out okay. In fact, the hazy, foggy, misty look, a staple the last three days, captures the feeling of the day. The platform on which the eagle is sitting is the location of an Osprey nest during the spring and summer of each year we've lived in this house. I'm still seeing an Osprey occasionally these days, but less and less often. I still have over two weeks until the Big Year begins, a time I'll fill with Christmas Bird Counts (7 of them) and looking for one last species for my yard year list.
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Juncos and the Suet Eaters

After weeks of complaining that I had no juncos, a small group of six appeared below our seed feeders a few days ago. They've been rather regular since. Today, two different Pine Warblers came in to the suet. However, they had to share the suet with a female Downy Woodpecker. Notice the enormous difference in plumage of the two warblers.  The closer bird is a young female, while the more distant bird is an adult male.  I have a list of 27 bird species that have come to our suet feeders. The suet provides a shot of energy since fat contains the highest content of calories per gram.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Flying eiders and Map time

Yesterday during my final survey on Fisherman Island Calvin Brennan spotted a group of ten ducks he thought might be eiders.  They were in fact Common Eiders with eight of the group females.  One of the two males had a lot of white in the back and that's what drew Calvin's attention to the birds.  The photo shown here is a web image that invokes the spirit of the flyby flock.
In addition to telling you about the eiders, this is an attempt to put a Google map of where I am on my blog.  If it works out well, I'll add a new map each time I change my location substantially during the big year.  I'm trying first with a nearby location.  Let' see what it looks like.

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