Monday, February 25, 2013

Damon's Birds for the Week of February 17 - February 23

I was not shut out this week, yay! I was also not in New Orleans like Paul, so I didn't get to see pelicans and Bonaparte's gull  (I already had black vulture, great blue heron, and northern mockingbird though). I would like to say I am not bitter, but dammit I am bitter!

Luckily I can leverage my job into more birds on my list. You see, part of my job (at times, including last week) is to not just watch for birds and other wildlife, but to identify it and point it out to people. So as I stand on a perch three stories above a wilderness area that has a marsh and a river running through it, I actually see many different species.

Week 8 Paul's Update

My bird list nearly doubled last week and all from a 1 day birding trip to Grand Isle, Louisiana. This had been part of my plan from the beginning- to casually bird watch and pick up odd local birds near Peterborough and then make a big day here or there when I am traveling somewhere.

The Grand Isle trip (as chronicled in my three part blog saga) was quite an adventure. In summary, I saw a fair number of birds that will likely be observable in Ontario during summer (Great Blue Herons, American Kestrels, Northern Mockingbirds, Pied-billed Grebe), but getting them on my list now is ok. There were several other birds that I probably won't see again (Snowy Plovers, Black Vultures, Caspian Terns, Brown Pelicans). So with these birds, I am now at 51 birds and in the lead. Here is my tally for the previous week:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Paul's Grand Isle Bird Fest (part 3)

Previously on The Year of Birds: Paul was in New Orleans for a conference, but took a side trip one day to see birds, and guess what? He found some! Now, we start the third, and final, chapter in a series we like to call "Paul's Grand Isle Bird Fest"

The beach was well behind us and we headed to the Sureway Supermarket, behind which there are some woods that birds are often seen. And groceries. Migrants sometimes fall into these wooded areas after a long trip north or south, but the lack of migrants at this time of year made this more of a long shot. However, we quickly saw a first bird!

Another mockingbird.

After traipsing through a nice woodlot, we heard some more birds in the distance but only saw two or three squirrels. There were really no birds around (besides a stray pelican soaring) which, sadly, was our sign to keep moving.

Grand Isle, Louisiana

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Paul's Grand Isle Bird Fest (part 2)

Previously, Paul ventured away from the ASLO conference to see some birds. He drove for awhile and saw some birds, but will he ever get to his destination of Grand Isle? What birds will he see? We join the story with our hero and wife still journeying and still full of birding excitement...

After crossing the really long bridge that takes you over extensive coastal marshland, Grand Isle was in striking distance! We made a quick stop at a gas station to buy some snacks and there, in the parking lot, was some gull or tern-like bird. It seemed too small to be a gull (as the ring-billed gull next to it was much larger), but it had an all black was a laughing gull (bird no. 6 for the trip!).

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Paul's Grand Isle Bird Fest (part 1)

I have been lagging behind Damon on the bird count, probably because I live in Peterborough and because he is a far better birder than I am. So to even things up I decided to take a quick trip to add birds to my list. New Orleans here I come!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ridley Creek State Park in Winter, a Photoessay

Ridley Creek State Park is a nice place to visit right near where I live. And though it probably only offers the same assemblage of birds as the areas and arboretums around me, it does have a larger area full of trees and and is a nice, different place to look for birds.

A few weeks ago (right after it snowed) I took a short afternoon trip there to walk around and maybe look for birds. It was cold, and I only saw one new bird while there, but it was really cold and I only took a shortish walk alongside the creek.  The park itself is huge, and the other areas offer different habitats for different bird species to see.

This is a short photoessay of my short trip Ridley Creek State Park in winter, including an actual picture of a bird!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Damon's Birds for the Week of February 10 - February 16

You know, I don't actually get satisfaction at adding birds to my list last week while Paul did not. Yeah, perhaps a little, but I actually find it more fun when Paul tells stories of going down to one of the great lakes and figuring out which ducks are out there or how he went to see a snowy owl only to fall in love with it, have an affair, and eventually get run over by his wife. Sucks that he got shut out last week.

Sucks also that I got shut out this week.

But I have some great news when it comes to birding for me.  Here, let me show you this pictures:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Flocking in the Delco, part 2

Previously I talked about the struggle to even find some common birds. Now, the struggle is part of the fun, it makes the journey a journey, and if common birds were easy then I would have a whole bunch of things to write about in the first week of the year and a bunch of boring nothingness after that. With them spread out, I can take my time writing about different birds as I see them and still have hope that I will spot something in mid-March that doesn’t have to be a rare or unique sighting.

But I still want to see the hard to find birds.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Flocking in the Delco, part 1

I am very fond of Tyler Arboretum. It is one of those places that is nearby and is nice and birdy that an hour or two walking around it probably will get me some new bird. Even on the days I go there without any new sightings, it still is worthwhile because it is really nice and beautiful and has some wonderful trees in it like a huge cedar of Lebanon and a giant sequoia (which is only about 160 years old so it is just ‘large’). I’ve written about Tyler Arboretum before, and it is a topic that will come up commonly throughout the year in my writing.

When I go there with my youngest for their toddler program, I sometimes will see birds (I checked off black vulture that way), but the main time I’ve added birds there is when I just wander around on my own. A week or so ago I went and just walked around and, despite lots of wild areas and it being full of trees, most of my bird sightings were at the feeder there. Sigh. I guess I shouldn’t complain, but it is sort of sad that I go to an arboretum to get feeder birds. But they were good feeder birds!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Week 6 Paul's Update

I saw no new birds last week. I didn't really get out and only have a fairly short list of birds that I might see in Peterborough in the middle of winter anyways. On top of that, we had quite a snowstorm in Peterborough- something like 41 cm, which meant I spent more time shoveling snow than looking for birds. I am also saving my bird watching efforts for the coming weeks.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Damon's Birds for the Week of February 3 - February 9

I have a problem. No, not writers block (I haven't posted in a couple days because I am in the middle of three posts instead of focusing on one). No, not lack of birds last week (I got a few new ones). No, not the cold fronts that come through and make me change my plans. None of those. My problem is Paul.

Don't be fooled by his shutout last week, Paul is preparing to take the lead and he knows it. Not only is he about to visit two places of the country with different bird assemblages, but he is starting to get the hang of this birding thing. He even sent me a message saying he is about to take the lead permanently and I couldn't even trash talk back because he is probably right. Dang.

But I did have a good week!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Being Connected with The Year of Birds

How can YOU be involved with this blog?  How can you be more connected with it? What, oh what, can you do to help this blog grow and be even more awesome? Can you do something other than sit there at home or at the EPA and read through the blog? Yes, you can! Here is how.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Birdlooking in the Canadian Winter

Birdlooking? You did read that correctly. In the middle of the winter in Canada, we spend most of our time looking for birds and little of our time actually watching the birds. That is if you don't count the waterfowl on Lake Ontario. Besides the geese and mallards down on the big lake, you can take long walks through the park, woodlot, or forest and nary hear, let alone see, a bird. Where are all the birds?

Well, this is a story about migration. Many of the birds are living it up in warmer weather somewhere south having left us 'birdwatchers' wandering through the snow and ice looking for their fool-hardy kin. It was during one of these birdless walks that I arrived at a bright idea: There must be birds from farther north that arrive in southern Canada but go no further. These "Arctic" birds leave their summer homes in exotic places like Baffin Island and Nunavut and arrive in Kingston or Waterloo or Peterborough and think, "wow this is so much warmer, why fly another couple of hundred miles to someplace where it doesn't snow so much?"

There must be a few of them, and these birds could hold the key to me besting Damon on the year long bird count competition. You see, these are birds that Damon won't have a chance to see. Either he comes to Ontario from Pennsylvania for a mid-winter visit (probability<0.05 on this one) or he goes to the Arctic in the summer (no doubt that he would have a hard time selling that concept to his wife). Ok, so how many of these birds are there and who are they.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Week 5 Paul's Update

I concentrated my efforts this week on the bird feeder by the Environmental Sciences building at Trent University. I had heard a rumor of an exotic visitor and wanted to see it for myself. Instead, I saw goldfinches, nuthatches, juncos, chickadees and lots of house sparrows.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Damon's Birds for the Week of January 27 - February 2

It was another slow week for me (much like the last two weeks), though I did get out to a couple places to look for birds this time. Unfortunately, our warm snap was short lived and happened to be on days I was busy (though one day was when I got to go to Tyler arboretum with my youngest son). I did fill my inside time playing with toys and thinking of bird names.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Immaturely Funny Bird Names

Ok, after my last post involving Paul and the Snowy Owl, I am in a very...uhhh...less than mature mood. I need to get it all out of my system! This is my attempt.

The Most Immaturely Funny Named Birds! (I'll try not to be too redundant with names):

Friday, February 1, 2013

Schleich Theater: Recreating Paul's Snowy Owl Sighting

Oh, good evening, and welcome to Schleich Theater. I am your host, Damon's Oldest Son's Schleich Peregrine Falcon, but you can call me SPF (all my friends do). Today we are going to act out a reenactment of the famous "Snowy Owl Sighting" by Paul Frost. So won't you join me for a cup of tea and a bite to eat while we sit back and watch what I like to call "When the Frost Meets the Snow."

I must warn you, however, that while this play is based on real events, we have taken many artistic liberties to add a sense of drama and unfolding that are, perhaps, not terribly existent in birder stories. I assure you that even if things did not transpire exactly like they are acted out, they are still within the same spirit. Similarly, all dialog is assumed.