Monthly Archives: February 2009

Birding Liberty State Park

lsp

Loads of toursits visit the Statue of Liberty when they come to New York City for the first time.  Few of them realize that Liberty State Park,  located smack-dab on the Hudson River amidst the crush of humanity in Jersey City, is a local birding hotspot.  With a mix of large open fields, marshland, a pine grove, weedy margins and mudflats when the tide goes out, it offers up a plethora (I love that word) of birding habitats.  It is especially good in winter.  There is a Snowy Owl there most years, living large on the rats.  There are also lots of different types of ducks, gulls and shorebirds.

I went down to the park with friends today to try for the Snowy.  It has been hanging around the golf course and waterfront.   I was also hoping to see the Eurasian Widgeon, immat. male Common Eider and 7 Woodcock that had been reported.  But I skunked on all of them.  I did see Green-winged Teal, loads of Brant, 2 Killdeer, 2 Horned Grebe, lots of Buffleheads,  DC Cormorants, Ruddy Ducks, Gadwalls, Black Ducks and the regular seagulls crowd-Herring, Greater Black-backed and Ring-billed.

Now that I know the lay of the land, so to speak, I plan on going back when it is a nicer and hopefully less windy day.  I wonder when Snowy Owls leave to go back north???

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Filed under Local schmocal

Skywatch-Great Horned Owl

great-horned-owl

Screeeeeeech!  Crunch, crunch, crunch.  (The sound of squealing brakes and gravel under the tires as we pulled off the road.)

I don’t often see owls and only twice in my life have I seen them just hanging around on the side of the road.  The first time was in Utah at dusk and this time I as in the Talkeetna mountains outside of Anchorage, and as you can see, it was a miserible damp cloudy day.  Up here in the woods, I have seen owls at night going about their day, or night, in this case, flying across the road, but not on poles along the road.  Have you seen owls do this?

To see other skies and things in them, check out Skywatch.

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Filed under Travel

Not all Red Birds are Cardinals

cardinal

Cardinals were everywhere at Brazos Bend State Park .  I was seeing 10-15 at a time.  They were in the shrubs, trees, bushes and on the ground.  I’m tellin’ you there must have been a flock of 70 birds there.  Often I would see movement, only to swing up my bins to see yet another Cardinal.  By day 2 of birding the park, I was basically ignoring them-the cardinal sin.  (cardinal, sin, get it.. hehehehe.)  But you know what they say.  “Bird every bird.”  That means, do not assume, take for granted or otherwise be a lazy birder.   Because you never know. In this case.  Ain’t that the truth.  I brushed past this guy with a shrug  then a little alarm bell went off.  “Wait, something is not right!”  Turns out, it was So NOT a Cardinal.  While it was not a life bird, it was the best look I have ever had of a Vermillion Flycatcher.

vermillion-flycatcher

I seem to have to re-learn this lesson pretty regularly.  I pass it on to you.  “Bird Every Bird.”

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Filed under Photos, Travel

Bird Photography Weekly – Least Grebe

least-grebe

Meet Life Bird #612. This is one of the Least Grebes that was hanging around the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge.  I saw it on the auto loop around Moccasin Pond. Look at that orange eye.

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Filed under Photos, Travel

Bittern Mantra

american-bittern

Ohmmmm.  I am one with the reed.

american-bittern1

Ohmmmm.  I am one with the reed.

american-bittern

Ohmmmm, I am one with the reed.

Seriously. What are you looking at? I know you can’t see me.  You got some sort of reed envy thing going on?

You too can be one with the reed.

Ohmmmmm.  WE are one with the reed.

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Filed under Photos, Travel

New Technology for the Traveling Birder

I have to tell you about this wickedly cool thing I saw at the conference.  I went to a roundtable on photography and web 2.0.  You know I use a lot of photos on my blog so if there is anything that can make that easier for me I want to know about it.  I saw a demonstration of a wireless memory card for a digital camera.  It sends images instantly from the camera to your favorite photosharing websites like Flickr or directly to your computer.  It is like Polaroid for the digital age.  Instant gratification!  And no cables requiered.  There was a photographer taking pictures all day and they were instantly loading into Flickr and he could share them immediately through a slide show.  It was slick.  Of coures, I had to have one.  So I now own a 2GB Eye-Fi card.  I can’t wait to get home to set it up.  WOOT!  Soon enough you can all see my pictures in real time from wherever I am on the planet.

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Filed under Photos

Bird Photography Weekly

Boat-tailed Grackle

Look at that tail!  Let’s see–at the beach, in Texas, long wonky tail, must be a Boat-tailed Grackle.  I can usually tell the difference between the Boat-tailed and Great-tailed Grackle not by size, and the tail of a Great-tailed Grackle is a crazy thing to behold, but by voice and habitat.  The Boat-tailed Grackle is a beach-loving surfer dude (Ok, I made up the surfer dude part, but they are coastal).  While the Great-tailed Grackle is more inland.  Their ranges do overlap though.  The real key for me as to which is which, is their voices.  They could not be more different.  The Boat-tailed Grackle has a pretty ringing sort of call (and will always remind me of Florida for some reason)while the Great-tailed Grackle’s voice  is harsh and sounds like for all the world like crumpling a wad of paper.  Seriously.

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Filed under Photos