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Tags bird watching , birders , birds , ornithology

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Old 17th April 2012, 06:49 PM   #81
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Nice Spotted Towhee photo. Which 300mm lens are you using if you don't mind my asking.
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Old 17th April 2012, 07:23 PM   #82
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Originally Posted by Humanzee View Post
Nice Spotted Towhee photo. Which 300mm lens are you using if you don't mind my asking.
The really expensive one

Canon 70-300 f/4-5.6 L IS USM.
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Old 17th April 2012, 08:21 PM   #83
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Originally Posted by dasmiller View Post
My best spotted towhee picture so far. Not that "get a good picture of a spotted towhee" was ever high on my list of lifetime goals.

Beauty!
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Old 17th April 2012, 11:37 PM   #84
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Nice picture! I found this species [ETA: the Spotted Towhee] almost as elusive as the Song Sparrow or the Veery when I was in Vancouver, and all my pictures of all three are of the "where is the bird?" variety.

A somewhat related question:
It seems extremely likely now that I will be moving to Salt Lake City this autumn for a 1.5-year post-doc. Does anyone have recommendations for:
- birdwatching localities in that area;
- a good field guide for, well, all of North America would be the best (I may go to Illinois at least sometimes).
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Last edited by Kotatsu; 17th April 2012 at 11:40 PM.
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Old 17th April 2012, 11:41 PM   #85
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Incidentally, a friend of mine found this bird:



I am sure I have heard that this is a disease (or parasite infection) of some sort, but I can't remember the details. Is this wet-feather disease, or does that affect only ducks? Any suggestions?
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Old 18th April 2012, 12:29 AM   #86
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Originally Posted by Kotatsu View Post
I am sure I have heard that this is a disease (or parasite infection) of some sort, but I can't remember the details. Is this wet-feather disease, or does that affect only ducks? Any suggestions?
Poor bird. Is that a Blue Tit?
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Old 18th April 2012, 01:18 AM   #87
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Originally Posted by Humanzee View Post
Poor bird. Is that a Blue Tit?
Yes. Or what remains of one, at least. Supposedly it was scratching itself and looked "bothered" and "didn't notice" my friend (quotes from him, here translated), which is why he could get so close and take the picture (he doesn't have a very fancy camera).
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Old 22nd April 2012, 12:48 PM   #88
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I would like to renew this question, in the hope of getting an answer. It seems I will most definitely be in Salt Lake City for at least a year (but will try to get additional funding), and have no intention of giving up on birdwatching.

Originally Posted by Kotatsu View Post
A somewhat related question:
It seems extremely likely now that I will be moving to Salt Lake City this autumn for a 1.5-year post-doc. Does anyone have recommendations for:
[snip]
- a good field guide for, well, all of North America would be the best (I may go to Illinois at least sometimes).
Is the Sibley guide good?

Also:
I had Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus, Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla, Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus and Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus yesterday.
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Old 22nd April 2012, 01:33 PM   #89
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Originally Posted by Kotatsu View Post
Is the Sibley guide good?
I use Sibley for ~90% of the identifications I do, so I'd say that it's working for me. But I really don't know how it compares to other guides, so I don't feel like I can make a definitive recommendation.
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Old 22nd April 2012, 01:59 PM   #90
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Originally Posted by dasmiller View Post
I use Sibley for ~90% of the identifications I do, so I'd say that it's working for me. But I really don't know how it compares to other guides, so I don't feel like I can make a definitive recommendation.
In your opinion, how does it compare to the "National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America". As a visitor, I found it to be capable to the job. Is Sibley a better book?

When choosing a field guide I tend to find a page that has birds I know on it and then critique the plates based on my previous experience with IDing those species.
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Old 22nd April 2012, 04:59 PM   #91
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Originally Posted by dasmiller View Post
I use Sibley for ~90% of the identifications I do, so I'd say that it's working for me. But I really don't know how it compares to other guides, so I don't feel like I can make a definitive recommendation.
I started out using Sibley, but found it easier to identify birds using Petersons Field Guide to North American birds. The Petersons iPhone/iPad App is also recommended and dirt cheap if you buy it today.

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Old 22nd April 2012, 05:14 PM   #92
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I like both Sibley and Peterson. I prefer Sibley over Peterson, both for its maps and illustrations, but in all honesty either one is good.
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Old 23rd April 2012, 06:14 AM   #93
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Looks like I backed the wrong horse with Nat.Geo., but, to quote Douglas Adams,
it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects. First, it is slightly cheaper; and second, it has the words "DON'T PANIC" inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.
OK, so only one important aspect...
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Old 23rd April 2012, 07:45 AM   #94
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There are many great field guides for North American birds. Nat Geo is terrific for an all-around guide. My favorite for beginners is James Coe's guide to Eastern Birds - I think there is a western counterpart. Coe's illustrations are superb and, more important, he does a beautiful job of illustrating species in an appropriate habitat context - very important for beginners. These guides are compact and only cost a couple of dollars on Amazon.

For more advanced birders, Sibley's gets my hands-down recommendation for the biggest, clearest, and most complete illustrations of the greatest number of species. There is virtually nothing presented as text describing habitat or habits. It's a giant minimalist guide that is my go-to more than any other.
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Old 23rd April 2012, 11:38 PM   #95
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Perhaps I should just take advantage of my high PhD student salary to get both Peterson and Sibley, then. From what I've seen on the internet, Sibley does seem to have better pictures, though...
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Old 23rd April 2012, 11:47 PM   #96
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Okay, I meant to ask this earlier but got tied up with stuff and the Braves game, but yesterday, I saw pecking away at a tree near my home, a woodpecker. I don't have binoculars nor a camera with that kind of zoom so at around 100+ feet away all I could see was red with a crest on its head.

I know what the red headed woodpeckers look like, and I could swear that this one looked bigger and had some white on its head and a crest.

is it possible I saw an Ivory Billed woodpecker? (i had heard they were scarce but never really knew what one looked like until today when I popped onto google images to try and identify what I saw).

It was over 100 feet away so there is a chance I was wrong. but it looked similar to the picture online.
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Old 24th April 2012, 04:22 AM   #97
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Originally Posted by LogicFail View Post
Okay, I meant to ask this earlier but got tied up with stuff and the Braves game, but yesterday, I saw pecking away at a tree near my home, a woodpecker. I don't have binoculars nor a camera with that kind of zoom so at around 100+ feet away all I could see was red with a crest on its head.

I know what the red headed woodpeckers look like, and I could swear that this one looked bigger and had some white on its head and a crest.

is it possible I saw an Ivory Billed woodpecker? (i had heard they were scarce but never really knew what one looked like until today when I popped onto google images to try and identify what I saw).

It was over 100 feet away so there is a chance I was wrong. but it looked similar to the picture online.
if you think it was an IBWP, you probably saw a Pileated. Coincidentally I had a similar question last week from a novice birder mate down in Texas (ex UK) who was astonished by the size of the bird he saw. We don't have WPs that size in the UK. I had the same reaction to the first Black Woodpecker I saw in Germany.

Oddly enough I found him (and ID'd him) from his call - the logic being, "I've never heard a call like that before!".
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Old 24th April 2012, 05:38 AM   #98
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Pity we didn't have a thread last year after all... I was traveling quite a bit, and for once managed to get my camera out every once in a while. Here's some nice pictures from Sweden:


(Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis)


(Little Auk Alle alle)


(Guillemot Uria aalge; this picture also shows the first record of Quadraceps obliquus for Sweden. That is, the small black dots on the chest are lice, which were collected and now lie in a vial of alcohol here at the University.)


(Long-tailed Skua Stercorarius longicaudus)


(Long-eared Owl Asio otus)


(Pheasant Phasianus colchicus; this picture was actually taken earlier this year)

Tanzania:


(Hammerkop Scopus umbretta)


(Roller Coracias garrulus)


(Blacksmith Lapwing Vanellus armatus)


(I think this is Zanzibar Red Bishop Euplectes nigriventis, but I'm not sure. This field had at least six different Euplectes species, plus a lot of other stuff... The only lice I collected in Tanzania came from a Speckeld Mousebird Colius striatus. The louse was a Colimenopon hamatus.)


(Can't remember the name of this kingfisher off-hand. A juvenile of something like "Striated Kingfisher" or so; I will check when I get home)


(Long-tailed Fiscal Shrike Lanius cabanisi)

And Turkey:


(White Storks Ciconia ciconia; photo taken from the famous Cücyk Camlica. Highly recommended in the autumn!)


(Pygmy Cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmeus)


(Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis; this and Alexandrine Parakeet Psittacula eupatria were seen in both the Asian and the European part of Istanbul)


(Whiskered Terns Chlidonias hybridus)


(A combo: Note how the Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo typically stand on the upper ledge, while the Shags Phalacrocorax aristotelis use the lower ledge. This picture is taken in Haydarpasha, on the Asian side of the great city of Istanbul. In other pictures, as well as in real life, this is very pronounced. Can you figure out what is so special about this picture?)


(Another combo: White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus on the ground and on the two platforms closest to the mast, there are Dalmatian Pelicans Pelecanus crispus. This is Kus Cenneti, near Bursa, where supposedly a large part of the world population of Dalmatian pelican winters. The duck in front are mainly Teals Anas crecca)

I end with a quiz. What is this:



It's from one of the countries above.
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Old 24th April 2012, 05:53 AM   #99
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Originally Posted by Kotatsu View Post
Pity we didn't have a thread last year after all....
We did!
(we just didn't tell you about it)


Actually, I considered asking the mods to remove the year and just have a single thread - "Forum Birdwatching"
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Old 24th April 2012, 11:28 AM   #100
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Originally Posted by EHocking View Post
if you think it was an IBWP, you probably saw a Pileated. Coincidentally I had a similar question last week from a novice birder mate down in Texas (ex UK) who was astonished by the size of the bird he saw. We don't have WPs that size in the UK. I had the same reaction to the first Black Woodpecker I saw in Germany.

Oddly enough I found him (and ID'd him) from his call - the logic being, "I've never heard a call like that before!".
Never had heard of a Pileated Woodpecker, but after looking at the pictures I suspect you are right. They seem to range in my area and are much more common.

Thanx for the info!!
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Old 24th April 2012, 08:32 PM   #101
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Originally Posted by BravesFan View Post
Never had heard of a Pileated Woodpecker, but after looking at the pictures I suspect you are right. They seem to range in my area and are much more common.

Thanx for the info!!
Ivory billed woodpeckers aren't just uncommon, they're likely extinct. There have been a few well publicized instances in the last 6 years or so of potential observations, but it's far from certain that they were actually ivory billed. Prior to that it had been something like 70 years since they had been reliably observed in the US.

Honestly though, if you saw a crow sized woodpecker in the US, it was a pileated.
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Old 25th April 2012, 06:04 AM   #102
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Originally Posted by Kotatsu View Post
Pity we didn't have a thread last year after all... I was traveling quite a bit, and for once managed to get my camera out every once in a while. Here's some nice pictures from Sweden:
Thanks. Those are spectacular photos.

I have no idea what the last one is, but will be watching to find out.
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Old 27th April 2012, 08:08 PM   #103
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#$(*&@ shorebirds, how the (*@$&^! am I supposed to figure out which &^@#%$*&^ species is-

ahem.

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Huntington Beach, CA
26 April 2012, late afternoon/early evening.


Allen's Hummingbird - Selasphorus sasin
American Avocet - Recurvirostra americana
American Coot - Fullica americana
Anna's Hummingbird - Calypte anna
Blue-Winged Teal - Anas discors - My first! (I think)
Brown Pelican - Pelecanus occidentalis
California Towhee - Pipilo Crissalis
Common Merganser - Mergus merganser - My first! (I think)
European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris
Forster's Tern - Sterna Forsteri
Great Blue Heron - Ardea herodias
House Finch - Carpodacus mexicanus
House Wren - Troglodytes aedon - My first AFAIK, but it's a pretty drab little bird so maybe I've simply overlooked them in the past. Great song, though.
Large-billed savannah sparrow - Passerculus sandwichensis rostratus
Long-Billed Dowitcher - Limnodromus scolapaceus
Marbled Godwit - Limosa fedoa
Mourning Dove - Zenaida Macroura
Northern Shoveler - Anas clypeata
Pied-billed grebe - Podilymbus podiceps
Red Knot - Calidris canutus (I think I've misidentified these in the past)
Ruddy Duck - Oxyura jamaicensis
Semipalmated Sandpiper - Calidris pusilla
Short-Billed Dowitcher - Limnodrums griseus
Snowy Egret - Egretta thula
Whimbrel - Numenius phaeopus
Willet - Catoptrophorus semipalmatus

I didn't even try to identify the gulls. There were a lot of gulls.

Some pictures:

Allen's Hummingbird (on Flickr)


Forster's Tern, Heroic Portrait (on Flickr)


Got it! (on Flickr)


Not the most graceful birds . . . (on Flickr)

ETA: I've got to start being realistic about the time involved in these little expeditions. I was there for about 2 hours, and my total travel time was maybe 1/2 hour because I had to be down in that area anyway.

But going through the 176 pictures . . . was another 5 hours.
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Old 28th April 2012, 01:59 AM   #104
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Originally Posted by dasmiller View Post
...But going through the 176 pictures . . . was another 5 hours.
Great photos though.



Oh, Allen and Forster want their birds back.
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Old 28th April 2012, 07:30 AM   #105
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Originally Posted by EHocking View Post
Great photos though.
Thanks. I just need to work on my discipline in going through the photo sets as they come in. At last count, I had a backlog of 74 sets in various stages of review. Most of them are not birds, and most of the sets are smaller than this one, and I've done at least some work on every set. But it's still kinda depressing to open that folder. And I'll be taking 2 more sets tomorrow: a radio-control aircraft meet, where I'll be flying and photographing, and then a trip to the small lake across the street from the flying field for wildlife shots.

<sigh> I like taking pictures, I like having good pictures, and working my way through the sets isn't unpleasant, but . . . sheesh.

Quote:
Oh, Allen and Forster want their birds back.
Hey, Allen's hummingbird is right where he left it. I'm not driving all the way back down to HB just because he forgot to get his bird back. As for Forster, well, he can have his bird back when I get my sawzall back. "I just need to borrow it for a couple hours, man." Shyeah, right, that was in February!
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Old 28th April 2012, 11:37 PM   #106
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I've been hearing a woodpecker drumming on the pole at the corner of my lot every day for several weeks now. It starts before I wake up (it's usually why I wake up) and continues for a while. Today the bird was out in the afternoon. It turns out it's not one, but three!

Nuttle's woodpeckers from the look of them. Must be a family.



The small blur by the right one's tail is something it had been working on. After picking it up, putting it down and pecking at it, he finally picked it up and tossed it aside.
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Old 29th April 2012, 05:22 PM   #107
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Had the first mocking bird babies of the year in the yard, early it seems. Begging in trees.
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Old 29th April 2012, 09:56 PM   #108
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Saw my first American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) today, Ridgefield, WA.

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Old 30th April 2012, 06:00 AM   #109
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Had a nice day out yesterday, with species as:
Greenshanks Tringa nebularia
Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis
Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca
Parasitic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus
Gadwall Anas strepera
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleuca

While heading back to the boat, we heard an unusual song, and were speculating on whether or not this was a Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos when the phone rang, and another birdwatcher who was on the next island told us he had heard one about an hour before we heard ours, so we went to that island and could not only hear the Nightingale he had found, but also most likely dismiss ours as something else (still unidentified). We heard ours only for about 30 seconds.

Still, I haven't heard a Nightingale in Sweden for almost ten years, and there's still less than a hundred records here, so that was a nice start of spring.
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Old 30th April 2012, 06:29 AM   #110
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Originally Posted by genesplicer View Post
Nuttle's woodpeckers from the look of them. Must be a family.
Acorn Woodpeckers, actually. They're common in the western US and famously live as "families" of cooperatively breeding individuals. In other words, some adult birds willingly forgo breeding in a given year and invest their parental effort in the offspring of another pair of birds. Usually the "helpers" are offspring of that pair from previous years, and by investing a few years in helping, they gain experience as parents themselves, stand to inherit the territory after their parents are dead, and all the while increase their inclusive fitness by helping with the development of their siblings.

Somewhere in your neighborhood is a big tree with the trunk pock-marked with hundreds of holes in which these woodpeckers have cached acorns.

(Nuttall's is a little black and white woodpecker in CA with a "zebra-striped" back.)
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Old 30th April 2012, 10:21 AM   #111
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Wow! Amazing pictures! I didn't have my equipment with me yesterday aside from my binoculars, but for the first time in too long the wife and I went for a simple birdwatching stroll, at Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary in Marshfield, MA - very windy so not much going on.

Young Bluejay sitting on the rafters of the entrance building welcoming visitors.
Red Winged Blackbirds
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow (My wife's favorite, so there's that)
Canada Geese (All of them, I think)
Osprey
Northern Harrier
Yellow Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
White Throated Sparrow
Crows
Killdeer
Hairy Woodpecker
Eastern Bluebird

All in all a very slow day. Was going to go to a migrant trap called "Ferry Hill Thicket" but it was too late in the day. For any Southeastern Massachusetts birdwatchers, it's an extremely small area.



From Ferry Hill Road on the left to Peabody on the right, it's max 200 yards. But at the best I've seen it, I've seen 12-15 different species of warbler. Canada, Magnoilia, Blackburnian, Black Throated Blues, Black Throated Greens, etc. Amazing place if you get there on a nice spring morning.
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Old 1st May 2012, 04:42 AM   #112
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Summer has arrived!

Yes.

This is my annual "Swifts have arrived in the UK" post.

Spotted the first one of the year in west London yesterday.
Weather has been so awful that I am yet to see them over our home in east London.
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Old 1st May 2012, 05:45 AM   #113
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Originally Posted by Kotatsu View Post
I end with a quiz. What is this:

http://i721.photobucket.com/albums/w...o/D1263642.jpg

It's from one of the countries above.
I'd go for a puffback shrike - not sure which one.
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Old 2nd May 2012, 04:22 AM   #114
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Originally Posted by EHocking View Post
We did!
(we just didn't tell you about it)
As a revenge, I will twitch something you really want to see in a few weeks when I go off on a birdwatching expedition to the Baltic Sea.

Originally Posted by Poison Oak View Post
Thanks. Those are spectacular photos.

I have no idea what the last one is, but will be watching to find out.
Thank you! The identity of the bird will be revealed below.

Originally Posted by dasmiller View Post
#$(*&@ shorebirds, how the (*@$&^! am I supposed to figure out which &^@#%$*&^ species is-
This is a nice book, even though many birds look very stout and short-billed. In general, it's quite useful, though.

Originally Posted by Tero View Post
Had the first mocking bird babies of the year in the yard, early it seems. Begging in trees.
There's been several reports of very early duck chicks here in Sweden, with a Mallard being see walking around with her chick on the frozen surface of the city moat sometime in February.

Originally Posted by EHocking View Post
This is my annual "Swifts have arrived in the UK" post.
That's it, I will stop wearing this knitted hat when I go outdoors now.

Originally Posted by sphenisc View Post
I'd go for a puffback shrike - not sure which one.
Correct! It is a Black-backed Puffback Dryoscopus cubla! Caught, banded, de-loused, and photographed at Udzungwa National Park, Tanzania. Well done!
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Old 2nd May 2012, 10:24 AM   #115
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I tried taking a walk with my daughter today and bird watching, but was thwarted. Even though it's the beginning of the warbler migration through my area, I didn't get to see much. A 4 year old is not an asset when one wants to be quiet and walk slowly, but that was nothing compared to the news helicopters.

My favorite walk/watching path goes right underneath the bridge that some idiots were arrested for trying to blow up. Apparently a lightly traveled bridge that was not damaged in any way and is no longer surrounded by police is worth filming to them, so there were news helicopters circling for at least an hour. It made it very difficult to hear anything and also scared the snot out of the nesting pair of bald eagles. The FOX helicopter in particular was bad about this, it hovered right over their nest for several minutes and scared one of the adults off of the nest entirely, and the other was freaking out. The irony of the self-proclaimed uber-patriotic FOX types harassing the national bird did not escape me.

In any case, I was able to see a few warblers, and my daughter and I got a really good look at a blue-gray gnatcatcher lining its nest.

Aside from the usual suspects we saw:
Bald eagle - Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Blue-gray gnatcatcher - Polioptila caerulea
Palm warbler - Dendroica palmarum
Prothonotary warbler - Protonotaria citrea
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Old 12th May 2012, 08:42 AM   #116
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Well, the wife went to Foxwoods very early this morning, so I took the opportunity to go to that Ferry Hill Thicket I mentioned up above. Good thing, too. It was warbler city there, best I've ever seen!

Black-Troated Blue Warbler
Black-Throated Green Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Canada Warbler
Kentucky Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Rumped Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Black and White Warbler
American Redstart!! (First time I've seen that one)
Another lifer for me, this one was kinda lame but I've just never seen one for some reason:
Indigo Bunting

Two lifers in one morning. Not too shabby!

This is the best image of any of them I could manage. It's the Northern Parula. How people manage to get such great photos of warblers like the above links is beyond me. They're too fast, too high up in the trees, to nestled inside a bush to get a look long enough to take a photo.




Anyway, the others:
Grey Catbird
Northern Waterthrush
Northern Cardinal
Comorant (Flyby)
Snowy Egret (Flyby)
Cooper's Hawk
Grey Squirrel (inside the aforementioned hawk's talons)

And I think that's about it. What a great day! -- Well, morning. Now that I'm home and it's the first day since about 2 weeks of crappy weather, well - the lawn's about 6" high. Time to go to work.
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Old 21st May 2012, 02:52 AM   #117
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Went with a few friends to Öland, an island in the Baltic Sea, to do some birdwatching during the weekend. Haven't collected my notes and stuff yet, but some observations:

- "Pale-bellied" Brent Goose Branta bernicla hrota, one among about 2000 of nominate subspecies;
- Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola, an adult, beautiful male;
- Broad-billed sandpiper Limicola falcinellus;
- Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus;
- Black kite Milvus migrans and Red Kite Milvus milvus;
- Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva, Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca and Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis;

We also had at least 12 species of mammal, including Beaver Castor fiber, Pine Marten Martes martes, Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus and Water Vole Arvicola terrestris. Added to this, lots of orchids, butterflies, beetles, and other stuff.
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Old 22nd May 2012, 04:54 PM   #118
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Went down to Abalone Cove, which is on the southern coast of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, which is part of the LA Metro area.

Not a lot of birds out, and while I got some pictures, none of the bird pictures were noteworthy (or postworthy).

The birds were:
American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
Lesser Goldfinch, Carduelis psaltria
Heermann's Gull (probably), Larus heermanni
Snowy Egret, Egretta thula
California Towhee (probably), Pipilo crissalis
Western Gull, Larus occidentalis
Marbled Godwit, Limosa fedoa
Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus
Brown Pelican, Pelicanus occidentalis
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Old 23rd May 2012, 06:09 AM   #119
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Originally Posted by dasmiller View Post
Heermann's Gull (probably), Larus heermanni
Enormously jealous. I have wanted to see this species for years, but I've never had the opportunity to be in the area where it lives...
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Old 23rd May 2012, 07:10 AM   #120
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Great White Egrets nesting in Somerset...

http://www.thisissomerset.co.uk/Grea...ail/story.html
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