Spotted Owls

Spotted Owls
adapted from my photo of 2008

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Yellow-billed Loon in Oklahoma

It's been at Lake Hefner in northwest Oklahoma City for awhile. I'd tried to see the loon on my way to the OK Panhandle, but no sign of it. Today I was back there trying again. I did the whole route around the lake, stopping and scoping the whole lake as often as I could find parking. I did see the batch of Common Loons, which was up to 9 today, way out on the lake. I tried to convince myself that one maybe had a lighter bill. But then they got too far away to see. So I started the circuit around the lake again. I was just about past Prairie Dog Point, when there it was, quite close to me, and very clearly my first non-ocean view of a Yellow-billed Loon (only saw one off CA and 4 off AK before).

Friday, February 26, 2010

Cimarron County, OK

After waiting impatiently for it to get light out this morning, I ventured forth on sometimes icy, sometimes just wet, roads from Arnett (nw OK, not Panhandle) to Cimarron Co. (western OK Panhandle), birding on the way. Highlights were many many Mountain Bluebirds, a Great Horned Owl on its nest, a very close Townsend's Solitaire, and two Black-billed Magpies in the back "yard" of the B&B where I am staying. Although there's still a small amount of snow on the ground out here, the roads are fine. Tomorrow looks to be a good day for birding (aren't they all?).

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Back to Oklahoma

This is supposed to be my year of exploring Oklahoma. Finally I'm back for my second trip, this time my goal being the OK Panhandle. Unfortunately, I'm not quite there, and it's snowing like mad outside my motel room. I hope it doesn't mess up my plans for tomorrow. At least I have a bit of food in my car, and I got a can of Pringles at the gas station. As long as the electricity stays on, I can watch tv and do computer stuff. When I can get out of here, I plan to go all the way to out to the end of the Panhandle. I need to return home on Sunday because of client work needing to be done on Monday.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A New Bird-related Hat

The big news is that I'm now a member of the board of directors of the American Birding Association. They needed someone to fill an unexpired term for a couple of months, and somehow latched on to me. The board voted me in this afternoon, and I will stand for election for my own term at the May meeting of the ABA. Should be interesting.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Rufous Hummer Attacking

She's at it again. I think the cold weather brings it out in her. Late this afternoon, a pair of cardinals made the mistake of sitting on a branch about 10 inches above one of the (of 5) hummingbird feeders that I have out. Immediately, and out of nowhere, the female Rufous Hummingbird appeared making a beeline straight at the heads of the cardinals, over and over, on the attack. What a brave (and dumb?) little bird!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

In between

Sort of slow on the birding front, but I did go to Village Creek Drying Beds yesterday (Arlington, TX). Nothing extraordinary there. Just the usual ducks. The roads were still quite muddy and pot-holed so I didn't get to see the whole place, but it was good to be out for awhile. For the next few days I'll be hard at work, hoping to clear out my client schedule enough to allow me to head up to Oklahoma again to do some more exploring. I'd intended to spend much more time there this year, but either my work or the weather here or both have kept me pretty close to home for most of February.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hummingbird anniversary

Today is the 6-month anniversary of the arrival of our wintering female Rufous Hummingbird. She was busy today, as usual, but not quite so busy as on very cold days when she is often visible at the feeders. For the last eight years my wintering female Rufous Hummingbird (presumably not the same bird for all nine years) has generally departed between mid-March and mid-April. She clearly spends a lot less time on her breeding ground than on her wintering grounds.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bird painting

In between home/office activities I've been trying to get some bird-painting done. I started out in November doing bird illustrations with white backgrounds (like the Spotted Owls at the top of this blog page), but lately I've been seeing what it's like to paint birds in their environment,such as Northern Harriers over fields and an ocean view with a Northern Gannet and Razorbills. I'm not sure what my motivation is for doing the painting, but it's so enjoyable, I guess that's enough. Eventually though, I may run out of wall-space.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"Backyard" birding

I've been participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count, with the "backyard" pretty loosely defined (a park, a roadside, etc.) since Friday. Yesterday I went to 5 different "backyards" in Fort Worth, the highlights being the Rufous Hummingbird in my real backyard, over a thousand each of American Robins and Cedar Waxwings in Foster Park, a Le Conte's Sparrow and Fox Sparrows at Longhorn Park (north Benbrook Lake), about 8 McCown's Longspurs in southwest Tarrant County (almost all the way to Parker County, along the road) and many Fox and Harris's Sparrows at Mustang Park on Benbrook Lake. Today I was time-limited to my real backyard by church activities, but tomorrow I'll try a few more places. It's a great excuse to have to go birding for a good cause.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Savannah Sparrow?

I think I know a Savannah Sparrow when I see one, but I've never had a Savannah Sparrow in my yard before. I think this bird that's in my yard now is one but every now and then it looks like it has too much rufous in its wings - if you see this picture and think it's something else, please let me know.

Snow, Snow, Lovely Snow

About two inches, or maybe more, so far. The birds are wildly attacking the seeds, nuts, suet. Too bad today isn't the Great Backyard Bird Count, because I'm not going anywhere else today and there are so many birds.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Feisty Rufous and American Goldfinches

It seems that when the weather is coldest, our Rufous Hummingbird gets most possessive of her feeders. Today she chased the Orange-crowned Warbler from the hummingbird feeder again. Then, when every goldfinch feeder was filled with goldfinches, and they had overflowed to the seed-sock on the porch next to a hummingbird feeder, Rufie began to attack goldfinches, particularly the one that mistakenly sat on the hummingbird feeder. I didn't get a picture of Rufie, but I'm posting a picture of a goldfinch on the sock, and another picture of a very gold goldfinch.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Rainy, Rainy, Birdy

I'm glad we're not getting snow in Fort Worth, and that I escaped the east coast last week before the big snows there, but I'm getting a bit tired of the rain here. The birds, however, are more active than ever. Much of the time, even in the rain, the goldfinch feeders are filled, which means that there are at least 70 finches, plus the branches of the pecan tre above the feeders are filled with more sweetly talking goldfinches. Quarts of nyjer seed are consumed each day. And Rufie, our wintering female Rufous Hummingbird, periodically appears on the porch, under the roof, to drink from either the heated or the unheated feeder. How all these birds manage to not die of overexposure amazes me. And where does a tiny hummingbird keep dry and safe when she's not on our porch? I need to go over and stand by our electric heater to warm up just thinking about it.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Observation of British Blackcap

My sister (Ann), while not a fanatic birder like me has been enjoying the birds where she lives near London, England. She told me that if I had a slow day I could post her recent observations of a Blackcap. She says: the female blackcap went many times to the apple which I had stuck on the end of a large s-hook in our cherry tree, and seemed to be enjoying eating the apple pulp (I had cut off the peel in a couple of places to expose the white apple flesh). She also ate from a couple of our fat feeders. But the best bit was watching her on the covered tray which holds mostly shelled sunflower seeds, with a sprinkling of dried meal worms on top. She had some sunflower seeds, but I really laughed when I caught her "killing" a dried meal worm by bashing it vigorously several times against the pile of sunflower seeds before swallowing it! Awwwh--so sweet!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Laredo birding, etc.

After presenting my big year slide to San Antonio Audubon on Thursday (2/4), I drove part-way to Laredo, and the next day early was in Laredo looking for, and not finding, the Amazon Kingfisher. It's one of those birds that I waited (because I had no choice this time) too late to go for. My welcomed consolation prize was the female White-collared Seedeater. The kingfisher was last seen on 2/3, and may be gone. Today (2/6) I joined the Fort Worth Audubon birding in the park trip, with lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Cedar Waxwings and American Robins, but nothing noteworthy. In the late afternoon, I went out to take a few photos of Harris's Sparrows, which I'm hoping to use to do a painting of them.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Slow day but birding to come

Tomorrow I drive to San Antonio, so I can tell SA Audubon people about my ABA big year. And then on Friday, I'll try for the Amazon Kingfisher that's been in Laredo,and hopefully I'll not be too late.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sign of Spring?

I'm back home in Fort Worth. There's not really much sign of spring except that one of the nearly 100 American Goldfinches at the feeders today was bright, bright yellow. I think he's a bit too early, especially since the ground hog saw his shadow today (or at least one of them did). Although it never got much above 50 degrees today, it was a lot warmer than North Carolina's freezing, icy weather.

gold parties