Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Quiet winter day

Snow highlights the branching pattern of this Sycamore tree on campus.
Sticky snow on the Hydrangeas in the A21 courtyard makes a great hiding place for our feeder birds and creates a beautiful winter wonderland for the human inhabitants of the building.
White-throated Sparrow, Zonotrichia albicollis (above), and Dark-eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis (below) share a snowy Hydrangea bush between flights to the feeder for seed. Other birds seen at the feeders today included Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis, and Black-capped Chickadee, Poecile atricapillus. The Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia, and Mourning Doves, Zenaida macroura, have also been seen recently using the feeder, or seed scattered below.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

birding today

Mimus polyglottos, Northern Mockingbird, photo: Lynn Jones

Today Lynn and I spent some time watching the very birdy thickets where we had seen the Brown Thrasher in late December. There was still plenty of food, berries on the shrubs and vines, and likely still plenty of weed seeds.

Cathartes aura, Turkey vulture, photo: Lynn Jones

Over head we had:
Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
Red-tailed Hawk,
Buteo jamaicensis - the dark-tailed one (which we saw clearly to be "red" feathers banded with dark brown or black - so a young individual

Buteo jamaicensis, Red-tailed Hawk, photo: Lynn Jones

In the bordering trees:
American Robin, Turdus migratorius

Everything else was in the thickets:
Black-capped Chickadee, Poecile atricapillus
House Finch, Carpodacus mexicanus

Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos

Gray Catbird, Dumetella carolinensis

Carolina Wren, Thryothorus ludovicianus
(heard, but not seen)
Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis

Blue Jay, Cyanocitta cristata

White-throated Sparrow, Zonotrichia albicollis

Other birds on campus today:
Canada Goose, Branta canadensis

Dark-eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis

European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris

And there were fresh Turkey tracks in Wednesday morning's new snow.

Digibinning - huh?

As I was leaving the building Tuesday, a subset of our Wild Turkey flock was hanging out right near the front door. My first thought was, dang, I wish I had a good camera. Second thought, okay, I have my binoculars and my little Nikon Coolpix point-and-shoot. Solution? Digibinning. That's the process of taking a digital photo through binoculars, and no, I did not coin the word!

Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo, 2 Jan 2010, 4:15pm

A short video clip is often better-focused than a still.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Had to get out!

The temperature rose from maybe 15 at dawn to close to 30 at lunchtime, so I headed out with binoculars to see what I could see. A Red-tailed Hawk with chocolate-brown tail flushed from the edge of campus and took off for a distant neighborhood, landing in the upper branches of a large yard-tree. After fluffing its feathers, it settled to its perch, well away from the bipedal intruder.

Way out over Long Island Sound I spied a Turkey Vulture soaring on tilting wings, along with a couple of gulls. Ring-billed Gulls were over campus, as well as a first-year likely Herring Gull. I scanned our resident flock of Canada Geese to count them, and see if they harbored any Cackling Geese - looked like 120 Canadas and nothing else.

A small flock of European Starlings and a couple of American Crows flew overhead, and I flushed one American Robin and a female Northern Cardinal as I walked the brushy edges along the back side of the B buildings. Rounding the front of A-21 again, another Red-tailed Hawk flew off, this one with bright rufous tail - do we have a pair??

At the courtyard birdfeeders, we have two Black-capped Chickadees, at least five Dark-eyed Juncos, our regular Song Sparrow and a pair of Northern Cardinals. Last week one of our Mourning Doves was killed in a window-strike, bringing our little flock down from eight to seven - and they have been scarce since that unfortunate event.

Sunset today outside A-21 on the highway side, 4:40pm.

The days have been extremely cold since Friday, with early mornings in the single digits, and bitter winds much of the time. Before that we had a stretch of very warm days - but so goes January - a classic late January thaw, and now back to winter!

It was good to get out again, on a bright blue-sky day, fill my lungs with cool air.

Canada Goose, Branta canadensis - 120
Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura -1
Red-tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis -2
Ring-billed Gull, Larus delawarensis -3
Herring Gull, Larus argentatus -1
American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos -4
European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris -6
Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis - 2 or 3
American Robin, Turdus migratorius - 1
Dark-eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis - 5
Black-capped Chickadee, Poecile atricapillus - 2
Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia - 1

Bamboo thicket in front of A-21 where the Juncos roost.