One of our favorite local spots, the Plainsboro Preserve has been hosting at least four Common Redpolls recently. This was my second time going to see them here and third time overall seeing the bird. This was Jeanette’s first look at Redpoll which made it all the more satisfying. Today the Sharpy I saw hunting the area last time was absent. This in turn meant long, good looks at the birds and even some nice pictures. A fun day of Winter birding. *Side note: We did however strike out again (our 6th excursion to see them) on two Greater White-fronted Geese in Cranford NJ.
Slightly out of New Jersey, a Scott’s Oriole was reported in Union Square Park in NYC! I arrived and after paying 20 dollars for parking was greeted quickly by the bird sitting comfortably in a tall tree right above a subway platform exit. Oblivious to all the action below, he sat an preened for some time before dropping down into a bush line for better viewing. People were gathered around to see what the 20 or so people with bins and camera’s were watching. I wonder how many future birders were hatched today as kids and their parents learned of this rare bird from the Midwest visiting their most unlikely location. It was great to “see” the bird but the highlight was definitely “sharing” it with others.
What a great time we had visiting with family on the other side of the country! Along with that came some great Central Oregon birding! We had invigorating morning walks in the Dry Canyons near my parents house that produced some of the common species of the area (most new to me :)). Some that we saw were Mountain Chickadee and Mountain Bluebird, Canyon Wren and Rock Wren, Black-billed Magpie and Western Scrub Jay. Red Shafted Northern Flicker were everywhere and we saw two different Northern Shrike during our stay. We made it to majestic Smith Rock with its collection of serious looking rock face and climbing surfaces as well as a stream full of Barrow’s Goldeneye. A trip to John Day during the week produced beautiful looks at resting Bald Eagles and weary Rough legged Hawks. On our last day we stopped in the nearby town of Bend at local birder David Tracy’s house. There he had visiting Anna’s Hummingbirds as well as a less common female Costa’s Hummingbird. As a parting gift, we saw an awesome little Pygmy Nuthatch feeding nearby. Thanks to my family for accepting us and putting up with (and actually taking part in!) my “habit” and I can’t wait to get out there in some warm weather! Here are some of my favorites:
The first day of 2008 brought hope for a prosperous and successful new year. I decided to try my luck for a third time on getting a Greater White-fronted Goose. One was reported at the Reservoir a day earlier so hopes were high. As I arrived I saw loads of people lined up with scopes and bins watching the water (or more specifically the birds that were on the water). Turns out it was for the 5-10 thousand Snow Geese flocked in the middle of the Reservoir, and not my Greater White-fronted. So I didn’t get the one goose, but got a lot of a different sort. They were quite amazing when the moved all at once seeming like lit flares when the sun caught their wings. A single picture doesn’t truly do it justice but i thought the wall-to-wall geese in the picture above gets the point across. 🙂 Happy New Year!
Today turned out to be our “Day of the Owl” for the year of 2007. All told we racked up 4 different species (only heard a Screech owl returning our calls this morning but didn’t get a look at him) and a possible pellet from a 5th. The Morning started with a cooperative Eastern Screech Owl who returned banter with us for a good minute or two. Then we came across a beautiful adult Northern Saw-whet Owl who sat and let us watch him for some time before we left him to his nap. A Great-horned Owl was being chased right near us by a group of angry American Crows and Blue Jays. We ended the amazing day with 5 different (conservatively could have been closer to 8 ) Short-eared Owls hunting right above our heads and posing for pictures. At one point two SEs and a Northern Harrier came together over a piece of something! The Harrier made off with the kill but this day definitely belonged to the Owls.
Please excuse the out of focus picture above but we had an interesting run-in on the way home from Christmas dinner tonight. As we turned off of Canal Road heading toward South Middlebush we saw a quick moving bird running along the side of the road. We stopped and I got a few quick (I emphasize quick resulting in the out of focus pictures shown above :)) shots before the Chukar took flight and shot off at high speed. The strength in his take off and flight were actually a bit surprising. Although most definitely a stocked game bird from a game farm somewhere, it was still an interesting encounter. Looks like he escaped being someone’s Christmas dinner. (Do people eat these things??)
Another wet and dreary day made hopes of seeing the previously reported Rough-legged Hawks at the Great Swamp a long shot at best. As we drove up Route 287 visibility in some areas was 50-100 yards as the slightly warmer temperatures and rain melted snow. When we got to the spot (near the “Friends of the Great Swamp Book Store”) we quickly got on a light colored Hawk that neither Jeanette or I had seen before. Though not our best work, we did get some pictures of the Light morph Rough-legged Hawk and added another Jersey bird to the list.