Friday, October 30, 2009

Pacific Loon and Feeder Visitors

I finally got my act together and signed up for the Genesee Birds List, which allows birders in the area to communicate with one another about rare sightings and various other hot topics. On the 25th the Genesee Birds List update in my email inbox informed me that there was a Pacific Loon at Hamlin Beach State Park. Unfortunately, I discovered this around 3 or 4 pm, but I immediately got my stuff in the car and headed out anyway.

I scanned the water near lots 3 and 4, where the loon had been reported to be earlier in the day. Now, I have a camera (18x optical zoom + 1.7x more zoom with my lens, so 30.6 x optical zoom overall?) and hand-me-down binoculars (10 x 25)--no scope. Trying to get a look at the loon that day, I made up my mind--definitely asking for a scope for Christmas this year. I had also been considering asking for snowshoes, but I think I'll get a lot more use out of a scope. Being a college student, I won't be able to get anything super-fancy. Some people have told me that if a scope is less than $1,000, don't even bother with it. In my case, I'm going to dismiss that advice.

Given my equipment, I didn't have much luck, but I did see another birder on the beach--with a scope--scanning the water. I approached him and asked if he was looking for the Pacific Loon. he was, and said that I couldn't be having much luck looking for it with a pair of binoculars. I wasn't, we chatted for a minute, I wished him luck, and started heading back towards my car. I hadn't gone very far when I heard some shouting, and turned around to see my fellow birder waving his arms at me and yelling "I've got it!"

I awkwardly fast-walked/ran back, holding my camera in one hand and my binoculars in the other so they wouldn't bounce all around. I got a peek through the scope at the bird, and it's now checked off my list. Always grateful to fellow birders who let me steal a peek through their scopes!!

I haven't heard any more complaints from my roommate about the birds waking her up in the morning, but she did say that in the springtime the noise can get "pretty intense." So, hopefully, I can keep my feeders up for the Winter. In the Spring I'll be getting plenty of birding and banding in, so I won't need the feeders so much to get my daily bird quota :-P

Yesterday there were 6 MODOs in the backyard (Mourning Doves). Also had a brief visit from a goldfinch. A female Downy is making regular visits, and a male Hairy even stopped by a few days ago! Below are pictures to compare the Downy woodpecker with the Hairy woodpecker. There are 3 characteristics that are generally used to distinguish the 2 species--overall size, bill length, and the presence of 2 black bars on the outer rectrices. (Alright, I guess it's really 4 characteristics: voice is also helpful in identification of these birds, but I'm still struggling with that, they sound almost exactly the same to me.) The black suet feeder in both pictures is the same, so the pictures make for good size comparison. The HAWO is pictured first, and the second, lower image is of the DOWO. The bars on the rectrices of the Downy aren't very clear from the picture, I'll try to get a better shot of them in the next few days.

Take nothing but pictures (and maybe the trash of jerks who came before you), leave nothing but footprints.

.....and Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another BBBO video online!

Just wanted to let everyone know that there is now a second video on NPR's Science Friday website about BBBO! Enjoy!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Feeders--What to do?

Set up my feeders yesterday: one clear one that suctions to the window above the sink, two suet feeders, one tube feeder, and one hanging platform feeder. Unfortunately, this morning one of my roommates told me that the birds woke her up with all their chirping, even with her window closed. Obviously, I can't keep my feeders up if the birds are waking my roommate up every morning, so I need to figure out what to do. At this point, I have no clue. I could move them farther back from the apartment, I'd have to check with the complex office first, but the problem then becomes deterring the squirrels. I already have a problem with squirrels, and if I moved the feeders back farther, they could simply drop down from the trees on top of them. Oh, what to do, what to do.

Despite the dilemma, there's already been a decent turn out. 2 Black-capped Chickadees, 2 Mourning Doves, a delightful visit from a Blue Jay, and at least a dozen of the pesky neighborhood House Sparrows. At first I thought I'd have to wait a few days to see some activity, so I'm pleased.

I'll post pics of my set-up later on, let me know if you have any tips on protecting feeders from squirrels from above! I'll be doing some research on it on my own, too.

Take nothing but pictures (and maybe the trash of jerks who came before you), leave nothing but footprints.

Friday, October 9, 2009

BBBO on SciFri!

Braddock Bay Bird Observatory is being featured this week on Science Friday! Click the link to watch a brief video that will give an overview of the process of songbird banding at BBBO. :) You can all see where I proudly volunteer!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Parker River with Mom

Whoops! Looks like I let a whole month pass by without a single posting. What can I say? I've been busy, busy, busy. I've been meaning to post for a couple of weeks now, and since the cold-to-end-all-colds has me sitting at home on a Saturday night, I suppose there's no time like the present to catch up. Plenty of birds, not a whole lot of going out to bird watch. But, I should start from where I left off.

I took Mom bird watching at Parker River on August 26th. We didn't make it out for dawn, but we were there by 9 am. I got some nice shots of the swallow migration, and was giddy watching them all. Mom was a bit nervous about them, said she kept thinking of Hitchcock's The Birds, but she wasn't so anxious that she didn't appreciate the spectacle.
a harrier joins the frenzy

I brought Mom to North Pool Overlook and Hellcat, and we did the Marsh Loop and the Dunes Trail. Mom spotted a vireo that was right above our heads as we were on our way back on the Dunes Trail, about to cross the road. Unfortunately, the bird was too close for my camera to focus on it while the big ole lens was on, so I didn't get a shot.

Regrettably, by the time we made it down to Sandy Point there was no more parking. But, we were both starting to get hungry, so we made our way out of the refuge and grabbed lunch at Bob Lobster. After lunch we went for a little shopping in downtown Newburyport. I made sure to tell Mom that "bird watching isn't usually like this." :-P

Alright, that'll have to do for now, time for bed. Hopefully soon I'll get caught up with my blog, and then begins the daunting task of trying to catch up with everyone else's! (Hope everyone is well!)

Take nothing but pictures (and maybe the trash of jerks who came before you), leave nothing but footprints.