31 January 2010

Gray Partridge

Around 4:15 this afternoon, Ashley and I had 7 GRAY PARTRIDGE on W Ave, just north of 290th Street in Boone County.

Here are 2 of them shuffling away:

Here are 6 of the 7 partridge:

30 January 2010

Prairie Falcons

Here are a some photos of the 2 Prairie Falcons Ashley and I had today in Woodbury County.

First, here is the first bird perched (on a European Starling that is obscured):

Secondly, here is the 1st bird in flight:

Lastly, here are both birds perched on the ground together:

19 January 2010

Northern MN

We made a quick trip up to northern Minnesota this weekend. Our main focus were owls... we were not disappointed despite the dearth of recent GGOW reports.

Our first NORTHERN HAWK OWL was at 4:50 on 16 January along McDavitt Rd in Sax-Zim bog. It was 2.5 miles north of Sax Rd:

Our second NORTHERN HAWK OWL was at 3:00 on 17 January along Whyte Rd. It was 2.9 miles northeast of Stoney River Rd:

Our third NORTHERN HAWK OWL was at 3:45 on 17 January along Stoney River Rd. It was 1.1 miles north of Whyte Rd:

Our fourth NORTHERN HAWK OWL was at 4:47 on 17 January along Stoney River Rd. It was 4.0 miles north of Whyte Rd:

We also found a GRAY GRAY OWL, a hard species to find lately. We found it at 4:15 on 17 January along Stoney River Rd. It was 5.8 miles north of Whyte Rd:

I also snapped a couple pics as it got closer to dusk...

We also did OK with winter finches. We had flocks of:

Pine Grosbeaks
Common Redpolls
Pine Siskins
White-winged Crossbills
Purple Finches

Here is a female PINE GROSBEAK:

And a terrible picture of a WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL:


Gray Jays were common throughout our stay:

I also enjoyed BOREAL CHICKADEES which turned out to be pretty findable, especially at the Admiral Rd feeders in Sax-Zim. Here is one along Whyte Rd:
We also had multiple BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKERS along McDavitt Rd in Sax-Zim. Here is a male:

12 January 2010

Varied Thrush

A bunch of us chased the VARIED THRUSH this afternoon up near Clear Lake. We found it right away around 2:30 at the feeders and it was present the whole time we were there. I wish all chases were that easy! Here's a picture:

Coming back south, we found a flock of 7 GRAY PARTRIDGE. Here is one of them:

05 January 2010

Newfoundland, etc

Ashley and I headed up to the northeast for the holidays. As you can guess, I was able to tie birding into some of it.

The first birding was a day-trip up to the Niagara Falls region for a dose of gulls. Despite the cold and wind, we were able to tally at least 8 species of gulls including THAYER'S, ICELAND, GLAUCOUS, LESSER BLACK-BACKED, GREAT BLACK-BACKED, BONAPARTE'S, etc. We also sorted through thousands of ducks including hundreds of LONG-TAILED DUCKS and 100+ WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS.

Also, these cooperative TUNDRA SWANS provided a good chance to study Tundra Swan bill variation:

Later in the break, we headed up further to the NE and birded around Acadia National Park in Maine. However, it poured rain and the wind howled up to 40 mph all of the daylight hours we were there. In fact, this photo sums up that day pretty well:

We later headed up to northern Maine and relocated a NORTHERN HAWK-OWL. Can you spot it in this picture?

Here is a less-distant look at the NORTHERN HAWK-OWL:

Soon after the owl, we came upon a flock of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS mixed in with CEDAR WAXWINGS and an AMERICAN ROBIN. Here is one of the BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS:

We continued north and ended up in Nova Scotia with reservations to take the ferry to Port Aux Basque, Newfoundland. The ferry, which traveled through the night, was a rather rough ride but we somehow survived albeit with little sleep. Driving across the entire island the next day, we were greeted with a different feel of the north; stunted conifers, short willows, and tundra now dominated the landscape:

Once in St. John's, we birded Quidi Vidi quite a bit. A highlight here were the 2 dozen TUFTED DUCKS! Here is an adult male:

A couple other duck species hanging around Quidi Vidi included scores of AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS:


... and some GREATER SCAUP:

There were some nice concentrations of gulls around the lake as well. Here is a picture showing the mantle colors of a HERRING GULL, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, and GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL:

We also made an afternoon trip out to Cape Spear, the eastern-most point in North America. The howling wind and cold windchills made birding somewhat difficult but it was still a very intriguing place to bird. Here is me huddling behind a rock, trying to scope through the hundreds of COMMON EIDERS:

Here is a flock of PURPLE SANDPIPERS down on the rocks, part of a flock of at least 80:

Here is the lighthouse at Cape Spear:

Here is a random picture of some coastline near Cape Spear getting pounded by the high seas:

One thing that really jumped out during our stay in Newfoundland were the gulls. When you parked at the grocery store or gas station, the gulls milling around for scraps are ICELAND GULLS! Seeing this, it wasn't any surprise that there were hundreds of ICELAND GULLS at the sewer outflow down along the harbor:

Also present were a couple dozen BLACK-HEADED GULLS:

However, the highlight at this spot was this "COMMON" MEW GULL:

On our drive back across Newfoundland to catch the ferry south, we stopped a few times and had things like NORTHERN SHRIKE, GRAY JAY, BOREAL CHICKADEE, and a pair of PINE GROSBEAKS. Here is a dark, blurry picture of the male:

From the ferry, we had a couple things close to shore like this GREAT CORMORANT:

... and many BLACK GUILLEMOTS:

However, once we got a bit further offshore, dozens of alcids starting popping up and flushing. Here is a flock of perhaps the most common alcid we encountered, THICK-BILLED MURRES:

Before we got too far offshore, I snapped a picture looking back at Newfoundland. Here is a ocean view of the cold, northern island:

While on our ferry to Nova Scotia, I couldn't help but to snap a few pictures of other boats we passed:

... and this one which was the other Marine Atlantic ferry:

Not to be outdone by the alcids, a few BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES were seen zipping by during our ferry ride:

... as well as a few NORTHERN FULMARS:

However, perhaps the most rewarding bird we saw from the ferry were the dozens upon dozens of DOVEKIES that flushed (we ended with 50+!). These little feathered rockets would patter and zoom off, often 2 at a time. Catching a clear shot of one in flight took a lot of patience! Here is the best I managed:

After all was said and done, it was a long but worthwhile trip! We drove at least 6,000 miles and tallied the following species:

Canada Goose
Tundra Swan
Mute Swan
American Black Duck
Northern Pintail
Tufted Duck
Greater Scaup
Common Eider
Black Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Common Goldeneye
Common Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ring-necked Pheasant
Wild Turkey
Common Loon
Horned Grebe
Northern Fulmar
Great Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant
Northern Harrier
Bald Eagle
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
American Kestrel
Purple Sandpiper
Bonaparte's Gull
Black-headed Gull
Ring-billed Gull
"Common" Mew Gull
Herring Gull
Glaucous Gull
Iceland Gull
Thayer's Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Black-legged Kittiwake
Common Murre
Thick-billed Murre
Black Guillemot
Atlantic Puffin
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Northern Hawk-Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Black-backed Woodpecker
Northern Shrike
Blue Jay
Gray Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Tufted Titmouse
Black-capped Chickadee
Boreal Chickadee
Brown Creeper
White-breasted Nuthatch
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Golden-crowned Kinglet
American Robin
European Starling
Bohemian Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing
American Tree Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Pine Grosbeak
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow