Friday, February 27, 2009

New Birding TV Show - Birding Adventures

This guy stole my dream job. Has anyone seen this show? It's only on in the southeast US it seems. The host is a South African. Maybe Quintus knows something about it...

Home town gull

Sorry for the lack of posts folks. Life's been busy!

I got a note that an Iceland Gull was found at Spring Lake Park in South Plainfield, NJ. This is the town I grew up in. My high school was right behind this park and I spent many horrible hours running around that park for our "mile test." Ugh. The lake itself has always been covered in Canada Geese and FULL of goose turds. I was shocked to hear about an Iceland Gull being there. I can't imagine what there is to eat there besides trash. The only interesting bird I ever saw at Spring Lake was a banded Snow Goose that was likely injured. I'll have to find the banding report I got and post it here. It goes to show you that you never know what you'll find! Maybe it'll be the Patagonia Picnic Table Effect and a Ross's Gull will swoop in.

I'm going to try to swing by the lake tomorrow to get a glimpse of this bird.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Leaf-footed Bug ID Needed

Beth found this Leaf-footed Bug sitting on our window sill today. It's about 20 degrees outside and has been cold since a warm spell in early February. I wonder how it got in and I wonder what its story is. Anyone know the species? I posted an ID request to which is usually a quick way to an answer.

UPDATE: Thanks to Nuthatch for IDing it as a Western Conifer Seed Bug. Funny because I IDed one of these for someone else last year! They are native to the Pacific Northwest but have undergone a tremendous range expansion into the northeast. It's unknown if it's natural or human-assisted. In general, it is considered a pest, but a cool-looking pest in my opinion.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Some silliness

I swear this was sent to me and I didn't find it myself. From icanhascheezburger:

funny pictures

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

NJ Great Backyard Bird Count Notes

Well, the Great Backyard Bird Count has more or less come to an end. Please continue entering your sightings if you haven't already. As the count reviewer in NJ, I get to see some interesting observations. Here are some highlights from this year here in NJ:

  • 160 species recorded. We had 163 last year. Someone counted the Monk Parakeets in Edgewater which wasn't done the last 2 years.

  • Tons of Pine Siskins all over the state (except in MY yard!)

  • 81 White-winged Crossbills - definitely a record in the years recorded online. The previous high count was 4!

  • A well-known birder found an Atlantic Puffin from Barnegat Light State Park - pretty cool!

  • Other rarities included Cackling Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, Barrow's Goldeneye, Eared Grebe, American Bittern, Black-headed Gull, Glaucous Gull, Rufous Hummingbird, and Bohemian Waxwing

  • Last year NJ was #1 in individual birds thanks to some BIG counts of Snow Geese in south Jersey. This year, we are #8. Those same counts of Snow Geese were not reported this year.

  • Six species of owls including Snowy

  • As opposed to past years, several of the "Red-headed Woodpecker" sightings turned out to actually be Red-headed Woodpeckers!

  • Someone reported a Northern Goshawk, which is always a nice find in winter. I emailed the person to confirm it. Sure enough, she sent me pics of a gorgeous adult bird from her yard.

  • Several sightings of Baltimore Orioles - one person told me how they love to feed it grape jelly all year long. Wintering Baltimore Orioles at feeders are an annual occurrence. You never know when one might be a Bullock's and the viewer just doesn't know better.

  • Personally, I had seen a Belted Kingfisher in the retention pond near my house the last 2 years. No luck this year.

Fun times! Thanks to everyone who participated. What observations did you make about your state?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Siskins (not at my feeder)

So I seem to have the only feeder in NJ where there are no Pine Siskins. I've had 4 Goldfinches, which is nice for my yard. Beth and I spent the weekend in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. We stayed at a little B&B and just relaxed. We had a great time, some great food, and some fun browsing in the shops of Doylestown and nearby New Hope. We spent a little time birding at Peace Valley Park so I could try out the new tripod. It works wonderfully! This was actually my second trip to this park. The first was an unsuccessful rarity chase for a Redwing back in February 2005.

The first birds we immediately noticed at the park were all the siskins. They were calling like crazy and filling all of the nearby feeders. We got some terrific photos. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

My V-day Gift from Beth

Ok, so we exchanged the night before Valentine's Day for no good reason. We were both excited to give each other gifts. Beth got me an AWESOME gift - a Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Tripod! Whoa baby is this thing light! I plan to try it out a bit this weekend. She's heard me mention wanting one for a long time. So she conspired with my friend who works at the Sandy Hook NJ Audubon gift shop to get me the tripod. She's so sneaky. I'm very excited!

In case you're wondering, I got her a pendant with sapphires in it - her birth stone and the future birth stone of Baby Belardo.

Get out there and count!

Today is the start of The Great Backyard Bird Count! Get out there and begin counting! Bringing out the trash this morning, I already had 2 Turkey Vultures, 2 American Crows, 2 American Robins, and 1 American Goldfinch fly over my house. I don't usually see Vultures directly over my house, especially not at 7:30 AM.

And remember, your counting doesn't necessarily have to be in your yard. It can be in a park, refuge, or wherever. Even if you don't know all the birds, count the ones you do know. But don't guess at the ones you don't! It makes the job of the state reviewer (like me) more difficult.

Most importantly, have fun!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Monday, February 09, 2009

Vulture Comic

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Funny blog post title

The title of this blog post caught me by surprise in my Google Reader. Then I realized it belonged to Serious Eats and it wasn't one of N8's taxidermy posts. Actually, it's kind of a gross post regardless of whether it's food related or bird related.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Cumberland County Eagle Festival this weekend!

If you're local and not busy on Saturday, head down to Cumberland County, NJ for the Winter Eagle Festival. I will be the on-site naturalist at Beaver Dam from 10-11:30 and at Turkey Point from 1:00-5:00. It's a great opportunity to view not only Bald Eagles, but thousands of Snow Geese, lots of Harriers, and Short-eared Owls. It's supposed to be a gorgeous day weather-wise too. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tripod Head Question

Has anyone experimented with using a grip ball head like this one on their scope tripod instead of the standard tripod heads out there? I'll admit, I don't even know if it would fit on my tripod and I don't know much about tripods. It looks like it would make finding and locking on a bird easier, but may make scanning more difficult.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Two "state bird" day

The Owlman and I took a morning birding trip on this Super Bowl Sunday in search of some of the NJ rarities that have been around. Our first stop was down to Collingswood, a suburb of Philadelphia. A plain-old-regular-run-of-the-mill yard that happens to have a really nice feeder setup, some water, and a few evergreen trees surrounding it has been host to a Green-tailed Towhee for the last month or so. The last NJ Green-tailed Towhee was in 1985. It goes to show you never know what will show up where. We were lucky and were treated to splendid views of the Towhee, although my awful photos don't do it justice.
We then headed to the Pole Farm in hope of seeing some owls. No owls, but we encountered a splendid raptor show. We had multiple harriers including 2 "gray ghosts." We also had a gorgeous dark-morph Rough-legged Hawk fly right over us. It was cruising quick and I was a bit slow with the camera but I got the decent shot below. We also saw several Red-tails, a light-morph Rough-legged, and we had crippling views of a Red-shouldered Hawk. Enjoy the pics below. I particularly love the last one. We finished our day at Round Valley Reservoir where we saw an Eared Grebe that had been hanging there for some time now. Two state birds for me in one day! Be sure to check out Quintus's better pics of the Towhee and his report of the day.

Rough-legged Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk