Monday, December 2, 2013

Blue-footed Booby

I had to be in San Diego today, so I got up early and drove an hour north to Lake Skinner Recreational Area with hopes of finding a Blue-footed Booby.  Several had been seen in this area recently.  I had no problem finding the lake, with a little help from "Susie," my Apple Maps assistant!   I paid my $6 fee, and the attendant showed me a beautiful picture someone had recently taken of the booby, with the added caution, "Some people see them and some don't.  I haven't.   Good luck."   With that stirring endorsement, I headed down to the lake.  Today luck was with me.  Within 15 minutes, I found four of them, sitting on the edge of the far dock at the small marina.  I stood on the shore of the lake and watch them for 30 minutes.  They rested, preened and moved around a little but never left the dock.  The scope views I had were magnificent, with the sun directly behind my back. What a fun experience to see this bird in the United States.   

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A little cold....but the Nutcracker's were fine

This morning we went for a hike in Big Cottonwood Canyon.  There was a light covering of snow and ice on the trail up to Donut Falls.  It was a chilly 27 degrees!    We enjoyed our hike, and especially seeing a huge bull moose just 20 feet off the trail.   He snorted, looked very carefully at us, his big eyes focused intently and then with a huff and swish of the big clump of hair hanging below his throat, he settled down in the snow to rest.

The birding was light, but I enjoyed watching a group of Mountain Chickadees grabbing a breakfast snack and then watching several Clark's Nutcrackers flying around.  Their gray and white plumage stood out against the green branches of the pine trees, and their big bills searched for something to eat.  One flew across the canyon, fluttering as it went with the contrast of the dark wings and lighter body standing out.

Nice morning!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Birding in Jamaica

As always, I tried to squeeze in some birding during a recent family vacation in Jamaica.   One place that I wouldn't miss is Rocklands Bird Sanctuary just a few minutes out of Montego Bay.  A fun place to visit....although the last mile or two of the trip is up a pretty winding narrow road.    Go slow.   

I went there twice.  The first visit was in the late afternoon and we took the family.  We spent a couple of hours in the gardens, with one highlight clearly being having the hummingbirds (Streamertails) come and actually sit on your hand while drinking out of small tubes of sugar water.  It is a great place to take those non-birders who are trying to indulge you in your birding passion.  Everyone loved it.  Carribbean Doves, Jamaican Mangos and Orangequits, among others were easy to see.  

My second visit was an early morning guided birding trip with Flex, who manages the place now.  He did a  nice job, has great ears and knows the local  birds.   We spent several hours walking the trails around the place.  We started at sunrise.  It was amazing what diversity there was within a mile of the house.  We saw about 30 species, with a number of them being endemics to Jamaica.   Well worth the trip.  

Papa Birder

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Unexpected Birding

Today I took the train to New York. Half way there the train broke down. As luck would have it, my seat on the train gave me a limited view of a bay and some wooded areas. I decided to bird while waiting for the train to be repaired. It took an hour or so, but at least I had a challenge ahead of me. Birding from a seat in a stopped train!

Although the number of species was limited, it was fun to see what I could find. Watching a crow chase a Bald Eagle was probably the highlight, but I also enjoyed watching Eastern Kingbirds feed on some bright red e berries.

Less than 10 species, but certainly a new experience. Grab it while you can.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Birding at Red Rocks

I was able to squeeze in a couple of hours just after sunrise to do a little birding at Red Rocks park near Denver. It was a nice break. Beautiful weather and gorgeous scenery. Only 17 species in the little time I had, but the birds were fun. Lots of scrub-jays, one big flock of Chipping and Lark Sparrows and two Prairie Falcons sitting in a dead snag, calling continually and a Sage Thrasher letting me watch him close up

Friday, July 27, 2012

White Morph of Great Blue

While driving to Deep Creek, the other day, I stopped at Big Pond, at Fort Fredrick to see the Great Blue Heron. But, not just any Big Blue! As you can see this is the much more unusual "white" morph....especially in Maryland. Not the greatest picture, but note the heavy, large bill. It was only ten yards from the trail.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Quick trip to Antelope Island

During a quick weekend trip to Utah I had a few extra hours and so I took a quick trip to Antelope island. It was amazing to see over 500 American Avocets with there cinnamon heads and up curved bills. I also saw 17 Chukars, the most I've ever seen at one time. All in all, a short, but nice break.