Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013: The year in review

So it's almost the end of 2013, and it's been quite a birdy year!

According to eBird, I've seen 220 birds this year, with 127 of them from Texas, 121 here in Maine, and 19 in Canada (during the pelagic puking trip). There are duplications in those figures (between states) of course, but (unless a miracle happens and I get to go birding before the new year) I'm finishing the year with 415 lifebirds. Wow.

So how many lifers for 2013? Let's review:
JANUARY
Harlequin Duck (finally!), Dyer Point, ME
Glaucous Gull, Bath Public Landing, Bath, ME
Ah, the month I got my concussion while working. Sigh. It's always nice to get a lifer gull; it's never easy, as gulls are so incredibly hard, but Glaucous and Iceland gulls hang out in Bath every winter, and that day I got lucky. As gulls go, these two are easier to spot because they're "white-winged" gulls, so all those Herring and Ring-billed gulls disappear when you see the blazing white. I'm hoping to see Iceland Gull in January 2014.

FEBRUARY
Down the entire month with a concussion. No reading, no TV, no writing, no nothing. Though I will confess that I sneaked outside and played in the four-foot snowdrifts (over two feet of fallen snow):

Do I look a little dazed here? I was pretty out of it. I shouldn't have been outside, but I had cabin fever and AB agreed to let me go out for a little while. She still shakes her head at this.

MARCH
 Phainopepla
Prairie Falcon
Clark's Grebe
Canyon Towhee
Montezuma Quail
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Mexican Jay
Phainopepla
Scott's Oriole
Black-chinned Sparrow
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Green-tailed Towhee
Plumbeous Vireo
Bell's Vireo
Brown-crested Flycatcher
Red-naped Sapsucker
Black-throated Sparrow
Lucifer Hummingbird
Scaled Quail
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Verdin
Canyon Wren
 Black-throated Gray Warbler
The annual big trip to Texas yielded all sorts of amazing goodies, as sister Mary and I traveled to the Big Bend (her favorite part of Texas). So much greatness there; I'd love to spend a full year there, just to rack up the lifers and experience that gorgeous desert and those mountains in every season. Still, it gets pretty hot there, so we went early in the year!

And look at that list--probably my favorite (that I got a photo of, anyway) was probably the Black-throated Sparrow. Or the BTGray. Or the Verdin. Or--

APRIL/MAY
Nothin'. I did see a Chukar, a probable escapee from someone's flock (raised for hunting, sadly), but of course he didn't really count. Still, he was beautiful! He hung around for most of the summer, squawking from the tippy-top of the neighbor's chimney!

(dangit, Blogger is in a bad mood and is suddenly not letting me post photos)

JUNE/JULY
Northern Beardless-Tyranulet
Groove-billed Ani
Wood Stork
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Least Tern
Least Bittern
Magnificent Frigatebird
Red-crowned Parrot
Gray Hawk
Nelson's Sparrow
Back in Texas for my high school reunion and dealing with the HEAT! Another great trip to the birdiest state in the union, with all those great birds except for the Nelson's Sparrow, which I saw at Scarborough Marsh here in Maine.

AUGUST
Nothin'. That month was spent moving into our newly purchased home! No time for birdin'.

SEPTEMBER
Atlantic Puffin
Razorbill
Pomarine Jaeger
Manx Shearwater
Sooty Shearwater
Great Shearwater
South Polar Skua
Leach's Storm-Petrel
Wilson's Storm-Petrel
Northern Fulmar
Need we discuss the puking? Let's just focus on the birds I managed to see, NOT the ones I slept/puked through and missed.

OCTOBER
Nothin'.

NOVEMBER
Snowy Owl
My Thanksgiving owling paid off again, as I got my first Snowy!

DECEMBER
Nothin'.
I tried to get a Barrow's Goldeneye today but found only Common, which are beautiful of course--but I wanted a Barrow's. AB was with me and we were supposed to be headed to Bath to go shopping at Reny's, so after two separate stops (New Meadows Marina and the Sabino Rd. Town Landing in West Bath), I figured I shouldn't push it and ask her if we could go and look for Iceland Gulls at the Bath Landfill. I know--who wouldn't want to check out the dump?

Not a bad year! That's 45 lifers--fewer than last year, but still a decent haul. Next year, because we're getting married, there won't be a big trip to Texas (gotta save money!). Still, maybe we'll get some good birds in the spring migration, and who knows what the rest of this winter will bring.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Lifer Snowy Owl!

We've been having quite the irruptive year for Snowy Owls here on the east coast, and a bunch here in Maine. After going into a food coma yesterday and missing out on my Thanksgiving Day birding, AB and I went down to the shore near the Biddeford Pool (about an hour away) to look for a Snowy that had been seen there last week.

We went out to the shoreline at the end of Orcutt Road:
 It wasn't anywhere this green out there (image is a screen capture of Google Maps). You see the little island there in the right corner, the one on the left? That was easily visible from Ocean Avenue, where I parked. I walked a little path through the brush to the rocks, my eyes fixed on a white blob on the rock.

Once I got to the rocks, I set up my little scope, focused, and BAM:
I know this is an awful photo, but that white shape on the rocks is a SNOWY OWL! Bird number 415!

We watched him for a while, and we were joined by others looking for the same owl. After seeing some Ruddy Turnstones (beautiful!), Common Eiders, a Horned Grebe, Common and Red-breasted Mergansers, and a lone female Harlequin Duck, we headed home.

Sweet success!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

FINALLY! A Brown Creeper photo!

I've been compiling a lifelist since 2006, and sometime after that point (when I got a camera) I started keeping a lifephotos folder as well. It took many, many sightings, but I finally got a good photo of a Brown Creeper for my file:
What a sweet little bird! He's up here in the frozen north, though I would think he'd have headed south by now. The weather's awfully chilly today (24 degrees, with gusty winds up to 28 mph; windchill in the low teens), so I hope he's okay.