Birder's Eye View

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hungry Hawk

I always seem to find the most interesting things in nature when I'm not even looking for it. Yesterday I was wandering around outside, when a Red-shouldered Hawk flew into an old oak tree, carrying a frog. It either didn't notice me or didn't care, but I was able to photograph the entire process of it eating the frog from about 25 feet away.

If what they say is true -- that a picture is worth a thousand words -- then I'll end the post here and let the photos do the talking. Enjoy! And happy birding!

Labels: , ,

Monday, June 28, 2010

Wrens' day at the spa

Yesterday evening when it was getting dark, my mom made an interesting discovery outside my brother's window. A small group of Carolina Wrens were taking a dust bath under the bird feeder. Eventually my whole family (including the dog who you can hear whining in the background) came around to watch the spectacle.

I've never seen anything like it before, although I've heard that birds will do that to get the sand under their feathers to smother parasites and soak up oils on their skin. I must say, it was very entertaining though.

Happy birding!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

It's travel time again!

Take a look at the picture to the left. Any guesses? It should be an easy one. Sea lions... distinctive city... blue skies... It's.... California!

That picture was taken during my last trip there in 2002, but in a rather sudden turn of events the past week or so, it turns out I'll be going back! My younger brother was offered an internship in Silicon Valley (he's a tech guy) so he and I will be spending a month there, starting next week.

I can't wait to add some Western birds to my list! Not sure how good the birding is in the area where we'll be, but I'll see what I can scrounge up.

More updates later.

Happy birding!

Labels: ,

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fishing trip... and wildlife rescue?

So today I went with my family and grandfather on a fishing day trip on the Gulf. We had high expectations of catching some "big stuff" but alas our hopes went unfulfilled. Nonetheless, we managed to have a fantastic time, as we always do, and I, of course, had a great time birding in between fruitless efforts to catch fish.

The morning dawned warm and breezy when we arrived at the pier at 6am. The sun was casting the sky in a pastel wash of colors, and only one other fisherman and a host of herons and egrets were present for the first hour or so.

As the sky grew brighter, the bird species became more plentiful. Joining the wading birds and Least Terns were Double-crested Cormorants, Brown Pelicans, Boat-tailed Grackles, Laughing Gulls, and even a Magnificent Frigatebird at one point.

Around mid-morning, things started to get interesting. First, my sister found a pelican that had become caught in some fishing line wrapped around one of the pilings of the pier. After some unsuccessful efforts to free the bird by snagging the line with another hook, the pier attendant called the local bird sanctuary to come rescue it. Thankfully, before they arrived the pelican managed to free itself, completely unharmed.

But that wasn't the end of our wildlife adventures for the day.

Several people started noticing this sea turtle floating around in the water some distance away from the pier. It didn't seem to concern anyone, and after checking it out with my binoculars, it was clear the sea turtle was dead. It also didn't float away the entire time we were there, so we concluded it was caught on something underwater.

There wasn't anything anyone could do about it, but around late-morning a man from FL Fish and Wildlife showed up and was talking with a woman who had also seen it. I loaned them my binoculars so they could see it better, and they also concluded it was dead and phoned some more biologists to come with a kayak to pull it out.

Meanwhile, however, they called over a couple of guys who were snorkeling nearby and asked if they could help. After a few tense minutes, they were able to untie the line and swim the sea turtle up to the pier where some fishermen hauled it out with a net.

It turned out to be a Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle, the smallest and rarest species in the Gulf of Mexico. They concluded its fin had been caught in fishing line and it snagged and drowned. It was very sad, but also special to get to see such a beautiful species at all. Fish and Wildlife took it back for autopsies.

It was certainly an exciting day,  but unfortunately also a reminder of the consequences of irresponsibility -- a price that was paid by the Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle we found.

I certainly don't mean to end on a sad note. It was overall a great day out on the water with a few good catches and lots of cool birds.

Until next time,

Happy birding!

Labels: , , ,

Monday, June 14, 2010

Slow, hot summer

So far, my ambitious plans to go birding all summer have been foiled by this dreadful hot weather and the resulting lack of my own motivation. Yes, I know. Tragic on all accounts. By pure dumb luck though, I have managed to add a few more birds to my year list without even trying.

The first was a pair of Red-tailed Hawks I saw from the road last week. Surprisingly I hadn't seen any yet this year (or had failed to record it). More exciting for me, however, was my first-of-the-year Ruby-throated Hummingbird yesterday! I only saw it for a few moments, but it was just long enough to realize what I was looking at.

It hovered for a few moments around a bush of blue pentas, before zipping down to feed. In the time it took me to get from the window to the front door, however, it was gone. Too bad. I only rarely see hummingbirds where I live, so it's always a treat.

Well, that's about the highlight of my last 2 weeks. I'll try and get myself outside sometime soon, if not for my own sanity then for something more interesting to post about!

Until next time,

Happy birding!

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

No Show for Red-Legged Thrush

After keeping an eye on the listserves all day, it looks like the Red-Legged Thrush has disappeared just as quickly as it showed up. My suspicion is that it's long gone by now, although I will continue to monitor the lists in case anything changes.

Oh well, hopefully there was enough documentation with the original sighting for the bird to count as a record.

I'll be sure to post if anything changes!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Red-legged Thrush? In Florida?

Supposedly there is a Red-legged Thrush in Brevard County, FL, found yesterday. If you're like me (that is, a bird enthusiast but rather lacking in any knowledge of rarities), you'll be interested to know that this would this be a first time record for the whole of North America, as it is normally native to the Caribbean -- Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Bahamas, and surrounding areas. It has never been seen on North American land before, and here it showed up in my state!

All of this is very tentative right now, though. The original report of the bird on the local listservs suggests that the person who found it wasn't aware of how special the RLTH really is. From what it looks like, a few birders have gone out today to see if they can find it, so right now I'm sitting back and waiting to see if this is a legitimate finding, or a one-time sighting that will result in several months of debate in the birding community.

More updates to come for sure!

Happy birding!

Labels: , ,