Saw this beauty today in Hermanas, New Mexico twenty miles west of Columbus on the New Mexico/Mexico border. This unbanded Aplomado Falcon has been seen off and on for about a month, so when I landed in El Paso this afternoon I drove 70 miles along the border over some gorgeous grasslands. Thanks to Dylan Radin and Scott Schuette from Tucson for spotting the falcon on a corral. At one point we had the falcon and five pronghorn in the scope at the same time. I was able to digiscope this so-so shot through my scope.
Saw some other great birds today--Baird's Sparrow, Sprague's Pipit, Chestnut-collared Longspur, Lark Bunting. Gotta love New Mexico birding!
A friend of mine snapped this photo with her camera phone. She had arrived at her home in the Catskills last week to find this Ruffed Grouse dead on her coffee table. It had crashed through two panes of glass before dying next to this bird book. Bird breaking and entry, what's next?
After my meeting in American Falls on Wednesday, I figured I had about two hours of daylight to try and shoot over to Hagerman, Idaho to look for the Whooper Swan from Asia that has been wintering there on the Snake River. I had some basic directions, and was able to find the area near the dam easily, and right there were several swans with all the ducks, including this yellow-nosed beauty!
This is my fist digiscoping effort with my old Bausch & Lomb Discoverer on a window mount of my trusty steed (a rented Ford Mustang convertible) Does chasing after rare birds make me happy? You be the judge!
So earlier this week I flew out to Idaho to consult on a new transmission line project that was being proposed next to an active Bald Eagle nest near American Falls on the Snake River. Spent a day walking the fields and seeing the nest, including watching a pair of eagles bringing in nesting material.
There were also thousands of ducks and geese on the river, including a drake Red-breasted Merganser (locally scarce here).
And it was very cold and windy. But a beautiful area.
Good news is that the power company needs to keep the line at least half a mile from the nest, so after a public meeting where we brought this up on Wednesday, looks like the route of the line will have to move to keep it farther away from the nest.
Once upon a time (early 2001 to be exact), the very first Eurasian Collared-Doves to be found in Idaho showed up in a little place called Neely in American Falls. These birds have expanded rapidly across the country over the past decade and there are still several dozen of these birds in Neely. This morning I saw several in the trees there and then a couple Black-billed Magpies feasting on a dead dove in the snow. Wild, eh?
Driving up to Idaho through Northern Utah, I love these mountains! My grandfather was born and grew up in this area, maybe I have it in my genes. Nice to see Rough-legged Hawks, Golden Eagles, and Prairie Falcons in the snow. And now I have until the end of the month to report them online for the Great Backyard Bird Count.
I posted this as a response to a query on Birdchat.
I have the Celestron VistaPix IS70, which is a 70mm spotting scope and 3.1MP camera. I need to play with it some more before I put up a full review, but here are a couple quick points:
1) Cost. Much cheaper than the bigger scopes (something like $500) 2) Magnification. Biggest drawback may be this...maxes out at 14X which is not as much magnification as you might want to make this your regular scope. 3) Focusing. I've had some trouble making sure that the eyepiece focus and camera focus are in sync. 4) Ease of use. If you have the eyepiece and the camera focus in sync, all you have to do is click a button and you've got a nice shot. Its pretty easy.
If this was a full 20x scope, and I can make sure I get the eyepiece and camera focus in sync (again, I need to play around with this some more), this could be a great scope for most use. Because of the 14x magnification, it is probably best for backyard birders who want to get great shots of birds at their feeders, or others who don't really need the full 20x or more to scope out distant waterfowl, shorebirds, etc.
Hope that helps. When I finish playing around with this scope I'll put up a more full review and some photos.
Another feverish day of posting to email listservs, Twittering, reviewing photos for the photo contest, blogging...doing anything I can think of to continue getting the word out about the GBBC.
The result? We're almost exactly on track with the submissions at this time last year. We haven't hit the tipping point pushing us up to a whole new level yet. But we're holding our own, Valentines Day or no.
Looking for more fun tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'm hashed.
If you are a bird or nature blogger, and want to put yourself totally out there, join the Nature Blog Network and you and everyone else can see exactly how popular your blog really is. Its good and humbling! Go for it. Personally, I'm doing good right now just to bounce in and out of the Top 10 bird blogs.
Go to the window right now. Note the birds you see for the next 15 minutes. Go to www.birdcount.org and report them. Easy as pie. Even if all you can see is a crow or a pigeon, you can report that, and in doing so, be entered to win some of our great prizes.
And if you are really ambitious, put on your coat and go outside for a nice walk with your friends, family, or valentine. Note the birds that you see. Report at www.birdcount.org.
Have fun out there. And President Obama, you and your kids are welcome to join us for the count anytime!
Jefferson, Roosevelt (both), and Carter were all birders. When will we get our first real GBBC bird count from the White House?
Spent most of the day on computer...putting up ads online for the GBBC, reviewing photos, blogging on the GBBC blog, checking the latest stats. We're a bit behind where we were last year as far as submissions go--the first time we've seen a drop in the past 5 years. Not sure what to make of all that. Hopefully we'll find a way through that!
Fun to see the photos that are coming in, we'll have a bunch more uploaded onto the photo gallery tomorrow. I haven't checked yet to see what birds we are missing, since its still pretty early in the count.
This afternoon I took my kids out to do a count at Peace Valley. We had a great time. The best time we've had together in months. You can't buy that kind of family time!
Praying for this thing to go viral and to really see a bump in participation. Looking at the participant survey results we've got so far, seems like lots of new participants. But I'm gonna go crazy tonight trying to figure out what's up with the drop in participation!
So, the short of it is, tell everyone you know about the Great Backyard Bird Count. Now more than ever we need folks to count the birds in their yards and local parks!
I can't believe the Great Backyard Bird Count is only 49 hours away! Hoping for record-breaking participation this year, so looking forward to seeing those first numbers start rolling in Friday morning. Will there be a significant uptick in count submissions early on, or will we have to hit it hard all through the weekend?
As an aside, we always have a tough time getting all the prairie and sage grouse. So if you live in sage grouse or prairie chicken country...go find us some of those guys this weekend!
And if you are in Hawaii, climb a volcano and get us some good native Hawaiian forest birds!
Check out what some students in Boston put together...an online urban bird sounds project. You can listen to the birds and info about them. But best just to see a bunch of students so engaged with birds. Fun, eh?
So, this year we've added Facebook, Twitter, and Craigslist (have you posted it as an event on your local Craigslist yet?) to our strategy for online promotion of the Great Backyard Bird Count. If you've got other ideas for how to get the word out, let us know!
No matter what the groundhog says today, the Tufted Titmice in my neighborhood are starting to sing, which means, it's mating season! Spring is coming. Soon these birds will be making their nests in tree cavities. Owls are already on nests, and the Downy Woodpeckers and Carolina Chickadees are starting to sing and drum as well. Its official. Its (almost) Spring!