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Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday Birds

Today is Good Friday, the traditional anniversary of the day when Jesus of Nazareth was crucified in Jerusalem.  And there is a bird connection.

White-winged Crossbill, Spruce Run Reservoir, 2013.

According to Medieval accounts, one bird, the crossbill, got it's unusual crossed beak by trying to pry the nails from the hands of Jesus as he hung on the cross.  And his blood stained the birds red.

So it's just a legend.  The reality has more to do with millions of generations of crossbills specializing on prying the seeds out of pine and spruce cones.  But it's a fun connection, just the same, and one I remember every time I am fortunate enough to see some of these fantastic birds.

Happy Easter everyone!

Grooving on Birdscapes

I love birds.  But as much as I love the birds, I also love the places where the birds are found.  The other day I spent several hours just enjoying the wind, water, and clouds at my local reservoir.

Spruce Run Reservoir, Hunterdon, NJ, 28 March 2013
Birding has taken me to all 50 US states and a host of other countries.  I've enjoyed all the birds, but in many ways the birds are just a small piece of the landscapes--or birdscapes, if you will.  It is hard to separate them in my mind.  The three Bonaparte's Gulls that flew in to join the other gulls on the edge of the reservoir in the shot above (three small white dots on the left of the others), are as much a part of the moment as the clouds and the waves.  Birding is a celebration of birds, but even more so a celebration of life and place.

This really struck me as I picked up a copy of the new Crossley ID Raptor Guide.  There on each plate was captured amazing scenes that I've enjoyed in my travels.  In fact, I loved it so much I got Princeton Press to give away a free copy of the guide to whoever can best guess the location of seven birdscapes shown in the book (check it out and enter the contest over at BirdingIsFun).

In the meantime, here are several other amazing birdscapes from the guide.  Enjoy!  

Be sure to pick up a copy of the Crossley ID Raptor Guide if you love this kind of stuff.  But with spring in the air here in the northern hemisphere, be sure to get outside and connect to your own favorite local birdscapes.  Then come back and tell us what birdscapes most inspire you and why!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pacific Loon in New Jersey

Last night I got a text about a Pacific Loon in nearby Morris County, NJ--a first county record for this species.  After the kids got on the bus for school this morning, I headed over and was able to get some digiscoped shots of the bird as it swam laps around an office park detention pond.  My most urban Pacific Loon yet (beating out my first county record and sewage pond sighting at Hornsby Bend in 1998).

Like shooting fish in a barrel, a loon in a detention pond!

Not maybe where you would expect to see a Pacific Loon, on either coast, but what the heck!
At any rate, here are some of the better shots I managed of the actual bird.

You can see the white eyelids on this shot of the bird sleeping briefly

OK, not a great shot, except for the action as it dives!

Perhaps my favorite shot

Not a great shot, but a more typical Pacific Loon posture

I love it when loons look under the water for food

Why do we always focus on shots from the side?  I like the grays in the head as it is going away

Going away now

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