Saturday, October 29, 2016

Feminist Bird Club Walk at Salt Marsh Nature Center

     My coworker and friend, decided to start a group for birding to inspire women to get outside, explore, and bird. The Feminist Bird Club is for also starting a conversation about women in birding and our safety in exploring our urban landscapes (because let's be real, ladies-- we have all had an uncomfortable moment out in the field, where we felt like our safety was at risk). It's not just for ladies, guys are welcome too, and on it's first walk, we explored The Salt Marsh Nature Center at Marine Park.
     Four of us spied 40 species of birds, many of us achieving life birds of our own (two for me!). We had a really great time  on such a comfy and beautiful autumn day- the weather could not have been better!
     We saw a lot, I snapped many photos of what I could, here are the better of the bunch (over 300). Enjoy!
We began with being greeted by an Eurasian Wigeon near the entrance to the trails.
First looks at a male Eurasian Wigeon. I have been hoping to see this guy and was pleasantly surprised when he flew in with two other American Wigeons, right in front of us. Life bird! Finally- I would always go to where they were reported and never get them, today it just came down from the sky right to where we were standing!
Across the water, the Eurasian (left) side-by-side with the American Wigeon (right). Both are beautiful birds, but the Eurasian is not a common bird to the states. Most Atlantic Coast individuals are birds from Iceland. On the Pacific Coast, they come from Siberia.
A female house finch, perches above the cove where the metal green bridge takes you onto the trails- where the Eurasian Wigeon has been continuously reported over the last week or so.
Also, bonus, a Green wing teal (front), female American wigeon (center), and male American Wigeon (back).
Eurasian in the late morning light...

Swamp Sparrow, just behind the green bridge- we also got a savannah sparrow in this area too.
We spent a lot of time on the green bridge, the longer we stayed, the more we saw... like a great blue heron who flew in, greater yellowlegs foraging in the falling tide, and sparrows darting in and out of the shrubs and grasses.
And the Eurasian wigeon made some nice close passes in the light, what a nice guy.

And a great egret came in and just as quickly left for a better fishing spot.
Lots of squabbling downy woodpeckers near the tree they have been excavating in recent times.

Not a bird, a mantid hangs out - insects were active as temperatures climbed in the the low 60's.
Almost snubbed this off as a starling as it flew towards us, but then peered at it as it flew past and noticed the tail was not starling, with white edges.... another lifer and great surprise-- and Eastern Meadowlark- who perched high for us to get some looks, through the tops of the grasses before diving down low, out of sight.
These birds will spend most of their time foraging on the ground, probing for insects, but also feeding on seed and grain.
A nice look to see some of the yellow on the belly, chest, and throat.
On our way out, a last look at a modest but beautiful female American Wigeon.
Was bummed to be left with 39 species when leaving-- lacking some pretty common birds like N. Cardinal, blue jay, or any corvid-- walked to the picnic tables to find 40 in the plantings of flowers, a common yellow throat. Yay!
Yay for a successful (and fruitful) first walk-- looking forward to the next!
Edits made: When you throw together a blog post fast... house finch and swamp sparrow corrections made, sheesh. ;)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Winter Is Coming...

     The air has a new smell to it, a new feel to it, and I sure don't like it. In terms of how I function, I am reptilian. Heat, sun, and warmth are what I love and winter brings out my true reptilian self as it dries out my skin and I even feel scaly. Summer is over, even with those last few attempts at 80 degree days, I think it has given up and fall is transitioning quick into winter.
     The bird species present also are reminding me of winter, specifically the waterfowl I saw on this morning before work. I hit two locations in my attempt to find some very specific birds, based on yesterday's reports. I stopped first at the Salt Marsh Nature Center and then stopped at Plumb Beach, before getting to work.
     The one plus for this morning is that the wind died down a lot from the past few days and the sun was bright, so at least there was that. Enjoy the sights...
A sun-lit song sparrow along the path.
This isn't the wigeon you're looking for.
I came here hoping to see the Eurasian Wigeon who has been here over the last few days, instead I came up only with an American Wigeon. My first of the season, so I suppose I can't truly complain-- plus, he is still a super handsome guy. 

A great blue heron along the marsh grasses.
A bird I always adore and appreciate, cormorants- a double-crested cormorant to be exact. With no ability to fully waterproof their feathers, they must dry them out so that they can successfully fly.
Meanwhile at Plumb Beach... one of may black-bellied plovers I saw.
A few sanderlings associated with the plovers, and were dwarfed by the plovers when side-by-side.

A herring gull feasts on a prize, a fish head. Eat them up, yum! (I had a childhood where these were normally songs we listened to, if that tells you a little bit about myself...)
Stumbled upon a few semipalmated plovers too-- like, practically didn't see them till they were underfoot, as I was busy spying the sandbars and mudflats for other things...
One of these birds is not like the other birds...
Came out to see some royal terns, and royal terns I got! I like this shot because, depending on what they are up to, in a crowd they can easily blend in, especially when asleep among laughing gulls. I also saw Forster's terns among them too, who are much smaller than the royal terns.
Aside from the wigeon and the plumage change among the black-bellied plovers and sanderlings, other tell-tale signs of winter are the arrival of brant. Copious numbers of brant. I also saw bufflehead, a common winter sea duck, males are boldly marked with black and white, females just with a light white blush to their cheeks.
While I don't like winter, I do look forward to what the change in season brings with it- the chance to see some new avian faces in our area. Just need to start getting out the layers, we'll get there.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Gusty Green-Wood Scenes

     I took an afternoon stroll through Green-Wood Cemetery, on a surprisingly not hung-over day. Last night we tried a new bar, close to home, Church Bar- really great cocktails, and the bartender was good to us, giving us two rounds of on-the-house shots (on top of what we ordered). I am amazed I am even without the least bit of grogginess! So, with a great feeling of life inside of me, I decided that I needed to get outside on this amazing autumn day.
     After checking Twitter for any leads on where to go, I decided to go to Green-Wood, as tweets of cool birds came in after I was deep into the middle of the cemetery. So letting the Eurasin Wigeon and Lincoln's sparrow go, I enjoyed whatever I could find out in the cemetery.
     With gusty winds, it was hard to see much. It was not super birdy, but I can't complain with a huge turn-around from yesterday's weather.
A little golden-crowned kinglet, just hangin' around...
A red-bellied woodpecker caches away some food for another day.
When the first spot didn't work out, try another-- looks like this one works.
Normally mockingbirds are abundant, but I only found this one today, who happened to not mind a few photos. With gusting winds, I found a lot of birds were either deep inside of leaved trees or just not present.
A red-eared slider basks along the edge one of the pools close to the main entrance.
I found a patch of blooming flowers, it was covered in butterflies, bees, and other insects. Who seemed to be clinging to escape the wind and feed, ravenously. Monarch Butterfly migration can go into November, so this gal needs to make a move.
Also on the flowers were at least two species of skippers, a smaller butterfly than the monarchs.

Fairly certain I have a chipping sparrow here...
clean grey, line through the eye, brown back with black streaks. It also does not feel right for a white throated.
And a great blue heron, who worked some poses for quite a few onlookers.... note the goldfish scale on it's bill... someone is eating the stocked exotic fish from the crescent water.