2009 Birding (So far)

So far, this year has been good for viewing new species, even if I haven’t had much chance to get out so far.

My year started off with seeing a real rarity in our area – a green-tailed towhee. Only the eighth record in the state, I was lucky enough to have it right down the road from me.

Green-tailed Towhee

A few weeks later, Shari and I went to Barnegat to see what we could see. While we didn’t see anything new there, we were lucky enough to visit the nearby docks to see both eared and horned grebes. While we’ve seen them before, I’d never had a chance to photograph them.

Horned Grebe
Eared Grebe

a few weeks ago, I finally made the trip up to N. Jersey to see one of those birds I’ve wanted to see for a long time: a snowy owl. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a hoped look at it, because it decided to hide behind a set of pipes a distance away. As a bonus, however, I got to also see my first rough-legged hawk, which flew in over the same site with a number of northern harriers (including at least one gray ghost). So, while my sighting of a snowy owl was led than dramatic, the day was okay despite the cold.

Snowy Owl

My latest trip was bank to Barnegat, again with Sylvia, to see if I could see the red-necked grebe or the Atlantic puffin that had been seen there. We didn’t see either of them, but we still had a great time seeing other common residents of Barnegat: common and red throated loons, brant, and the beautiful Harlequin ducks. I have to say that although the numbers if birds were down on this frigid day, the photo opps were still pretty good. And while the shorebird numbers were minuscule, among the other highlights were my FOS snow bunting and horned lark.

Harlequin Duck pair
Savannah Sparrow (Ispwich race)
Long-tailed Duck (male, winter plumage)

But on my way home, I got an email that there were some white-winged crossbills being seen just down the street from my house – if I could only get there in time to catch these finicky birds before they disappeared.

White-winged Crossbill (male)
White-winged Crossbill (female)

I was lucky – they were there, and in large numbers: 15 – 18 birds of both sexes feeding in a stand of pines. Unfortunately, the birds were way up in the trees, hiding in the shadowy edges of the pines where pictures were tough to come by. So I did something that I’ve been doing more and more of: I just watched and enjoyed. Birding through the eye of a camera lens has its advantages, but sometimes you lose something when you are focused on “getting the shot”. So I have been spending more time with the binoculars and just watching the habits and behaviors of the birds, including those in my own backyard. Granted, I probably won’t see many new birds in my own back yard, but there its something magical about just watching the little bit of the wild we manage to stay with our feeders. It’s something both Shari and I have loved in the past but didn’t have much time to enjoy least year. Hopefully this year we’ll have more time to enjoy ‘our birds’ from our porch.

White-breasted Nuthatch

And look forward to our trip to Arizona in a couple of months, of course.


One Response to “2009 Birding (So far)

  • you would have loved some of the spots we stopped on the way to Miami, I took some shots with my iPhone, and didn’t do some of the herons justice at all

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