Sunday, March 30, 2008

FOS Turkey Vulture

I saw my FOS (First of the season) Turkey Vulture yesterday. Well, kind of. First of the season for WI that is.
There were several hundred of them perched on the radio tower in High Island.

Other than that, not much new here yet. My resident Song sparrows have begun singing and a handful of bird reports have been coming in.
A friend of mine saw an E Phoebe yesterday and I heard somebody found some Golden-crowned Kinglets. Whooping cranes are starting to arrive and hopefully some Yellow-rumped Warblers soon (although, I'm already sick of them though. They were the most abundant Warbler in TX).

Something new will show up sooner or later. Until then, Happy Birding!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

TX trip pictures and species list.

My trip picture can be found on my website here:
(Scroll down to the bottom)

The list of all 146 species I found during the trip can be found here:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Going home

I'm currently sitting in Bush international in Houston waiting for my flight which leaves at 3:45. I had a fun week on the TX coast. Even though, the last couple days have been really slow. I was kinda down yesterday when nothing showed up. Ever birding to the last, I added 2 new species to my year list. Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Cliff Swallow. I'll be posting a full trip report and the rest of my pictures when I get home.

It was a fun trip and I got to meet many fun people. Many thanks to Iain Campbell of Tropical Birding for letting me stay at the Tropical Birding house in High Island. Also kudos to Sam Woods, Moez Ali and Nick Athanos for being excellent guides and for being fun companions.

I totaled out at 146 species for the trip. The highlight species being: Buff-bellied Hummingbird (lifer #400), Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (finally, after all those drives through Texas and Oklahoma), Eared Grebe (a suprise number 399) and Long-billed Curlew (a bird that I've always wanted to see). Some other highlights are: Breaking 400 life birds, finding not one, but 3 Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, totaling over 200 species for the year and seeing a Barn Owl not once, but several times including a flyover and flyby last night.

The worst part of the trip? missing a lifer Painted Bunting by 45 mins.

Anyway, gotta go. Happy Birding!

Monday, March 24, 2008

High Island update

So the question is, what is High Island known for?

It's known for it's fantastic migrant fallouts. What happens when there's no fallout for a long time? Things get boring! Yea, I've seen almost every resident species within a 45 min drive of HIgh Island. I've been to every birding spot in the area. The only birds around are the resident and wintering species. That's about 150 species. Not bad for a small area but when Long-billed Curlew and Inca Dove start to get boring, you know it's time to find something else to look at. When you start looking at Butterflies and and Crested Caracara and shorebirds start to get boring, you know it's time to go home. Today is my last full day on the Texas coast here in the warm tropical weather and I don't know what to do. There aren't really any more new birds and I've been everywhere a few times.... I need something new. Unfortunately, all I have to look forward to when I go home is snow, cold and even fewer birds. I did get one new year bird today, a pair of flyover Franklin's Gulls. That is all.

Yesterday, I added Ruddy Turnstone and Western Sandpiper to my year list. I expect my year list is up around 200 something now. That's pretty good considering I have very few warblers and passerines.

Anyway, if something new doesn't show up today, I'll be about ready to go home. I'm just about birded out.
That is all.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

High Island pictures

Here's some pics I took at Bolivar flats today:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Painted Bunting!

Yes, there was one at Boyscout woods today... and I missed it!!! I dipped!!! grrr. By only an hour. It better turn up. I can't leave TX without it.

That's all for now. I have an early Rail walk tomorrow at the Yellow Rail Marsh in Anhuac.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Some trip pictures

Here's some of my best pics so far:

More birds... more lifers!

I had a grand total of 81 species for the day today! Along with 7 lifers!!

My lifers were as follows: Long-billed Curlew, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher!!, White-tailed Kite!, Crested Caracara, Am Avocet, Mottled Duck, Snowy Plover!

It was a really good day. We all went down to Bolivar (pronounced Ba-li-ver) flats today on the west end of the Island (island because of the Intra-coastal waterway). There were many many shorebirds at Bolivar. Mostly Plovers though. Wilson's, SemiP, Piping, Snowy, Black-bellied and AM Golden. Along with Red Knots, Dowitchers, SemiP and Least sandpipers, Marbled Godwits ect. We stopped at several places along the way and added: Bonapart's Gull, Royal Tern, Forster's Tern, Least tern, Sandwich Tern, Gull-billed Tern ect, There were also Skimmers, Avocets, Godwits and other larger shorebirds.

The best bird of the day was easily the resident BARN OWL!!! Second was the 3 Scissor-tailed Flycatchers we saw! 3rd was Crested Caracara, 4th was White-tailed Kite and 5th was Inca Dove!!!

I'm up to well over 100 species for the trip and we haven't yet had a decent passerine fallout. That's the reason High Island is famous... because of it's fantastic fallouts! We haven't had one yet so the place has been pretty much dead. (okaaay, not really dead... just dead in the way of migrants. lol) I'll be posting pictures when I get a chance. I have some really good ones.

My Barn Owl pics would have come out better except for a darn branch that got in the way. lol

That's all for now. More later!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I broke 400 species for my life list today!!!!! The breaking bird? A pair of Buff-bellied Hummingbirds!!!

Here's how the rest of the day went:
I waited at the airport until I couldn't stay any longer and then headed over to the Car rental place. I then waited a further 4 hours until around 1:00 when Iain came and picked up me and TJ. We then headed out and after stopping at Home Depot to run some errands, we arrived in High Island. TJ and I spent the rest of the afternoon birding around High Island. We tallied 43 species for the afternoon and I added 3 lifers and a good number of year birds. My third lifer of the day (and last bird so far) was a pair of Buff-bellied Hummingbirds!! They were lifer #400!!! My one picture is rather blurry though.
My other lifers were: Eared Grebe and Great-tailed Grackle!

Now for tomorrow! We'll be visiting a few places so hopefully more lifers!

That's all for now.

Flying to Texas

Well, I'm here at last... at 3:00am. I was supposed to be in High Island by now... but I'm not. I'm stuck at the airport.
Here's what happened:
I was supposed to leave Milwaukee at 5:15pm and get in at 8:10pm. Iain Campbell of Tropical Birding was supposed to pick me up at the airport then. However, due to some unavoidable weather circumstances, my flight got delayed, by 2 hours. Then it got delayed another 2 hours. Of course, Iain couldn't wait up all night so he suggested I take a flight the next morning. The only problem was that everyone else had the same idea. I ended up taking my original flight and got in to Houston at 20min to 2:00am. I've been here ever since. I won't be picked up until about 12:30ish today. That's a long time at the airport. Too long.

So do you want to know what goes on at the airport at 3:00am?
There's one guy across the room from me who asked a Continental airlines person something and then got mad and yelled "Continental sucks!" lol, the dingbat. Of course, the Continental guy got mad and called the Houston Police department to get the guy to quiet down. They're working it out now. It looks like for the good too. I will say though that Continental is a "No-frills" carrier. They give you the plane and nothing else. They will not put you up at a hotel if you get delayed. You're on your own. That's why I'm stuck at the airport. The other reason being that all the hotels are booked because of all the delayed and cancelled flights. I flew tonight because to wait would have set me back about 3 days. That's how much rollover there was from all the delayed flights. I hate flying in bad weather!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Birding over the last few days.

Here's a quick summary of all the birding I've done since Thurs. The pictures will have to wait:

Thurs: saw my FOY Killdeer. It was a beautiful day!

Fri: drove up to Green Bay to attend the WBCI conference field trip. That was a fun trip. I got to meet a few people, see some old friends, put faces to old names and names to old faces! lol. The highlight of the trip was easily two adult SNOWY OWLS! One pure white male and a rather barred adult female. LaSalle county park in Door County had numerous ducks but not the Pine Grosbeak I was hoping for. Kewaunee had many many ducks and, of all things, a Common Raven. I picked up one lifer (Greater Scaup) and about 14 year birds... as well as 5 State birds (Snowy Owl, Long-tailed Duck, Greater Scaup, Gr Black-backed Gull and Glaucous Gull)

Sat: after orchestra in Madison, I birded my way back home. A stop at Bakken's Pond was productive. There is some open water on the main pond so I was able to find a few things. I picked up the following year birds: B Kingfisher, Gadwall and Canvasback.
There were also two beautiful Tundra Swans present and 14 Sandhill Cranes.

Sun: I stopped at a friends' house where I added the following birds to my Bigby list:
Red-winged Blackbird, C Grackle and Br-headed Cowbird (also a "Big year" year bird)

I ended the weekend with 81 species on my year list.
Tomorrow, I'm headed over to Milwaukee to look for some Grebes and Red-throated Loons before catching the evening plane to Houston Texas! I'll be spending a week down there birding the High Island area ( While I'm down there, I'll be hanging out with Tropical Birding Tours and their staff. I'll be birding, helping spot birds and maybe even lead a trip myself!

I'll post as often as possible. When I return, I'll post this weekend's pictures and pictures from Texas.

Happy Birding!

Magical wanderings through winged dreams

That's my 6 words to describe myself. Jochen at Bell Tower birding tagged me on writing a 6 word meme to describe myself. Naturally, I had to write one. Here are the rules (copied from the original blogger that started this) to those few who haven't been included yet:

1. Write your own six word memoir

2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like

3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere

4 .Tag five more blogs with links

5. And don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

So there you go Jochen! 6 words that describe me as a birder!

Now everyone, try it yourself!

Happy Birding!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bird question: reminiscing

Here's something to think about: why are you interested in birds? what got you interested? How long have you been interested?

Think about it and comment with your answer.

Here's my story:

When asked how I became interested in birds, I've usually said that I've always been interested in birds.
Eventually that became, that I've always been interested in things that fly. Anything that flies whether it be big or small. Flying has always fascinated me. Recently though, I've been thinking about it and trying to break it down as far as I can. I think I've done it. I think I've broken it down as far as it will go and found the basis for almost all my interests. They all share one thing in common.
I haven't always been interested in specifically birds. When I was younger I liked to wander more and explore different things. I've only been a true hardcore birder for about 8 or 9 years now. But looking at some of the other things I love to do, it all has one common interest. One thing that it's all connected to.
An interest in Magic. I've always had a strong interest in Magic; doing things that are seemingly impossible. When I was younger, I used to know every trick and routine in the book. I could predict a card you would select, make things disappear and reappear... you name it, I could do it. I was once a master of card tricks. You didn't dare let me shuffle a deck of cards before playing because, invariably, I would come out on top.
I've also had my dreams about magic. Not illusions like our Magicians can do but real Magic. Not making things seem like they've disappeared but really making them disappear. Waving my hand and making clouds vanish, controlling weather, being able to vanish from one place and appear, an instant later, one mile or hundreds of miles away. My favorite thing to pretend to do, was to become invisible. When you're invisible, nobody can see you and you can do whatever you want without anyone noticing.

I had one dream though that not even pretending could replicate. That was to fly. I have always wanted to be able to fly. Ever since I can remember. Not in a plane, or anything, but to fly without the use of anything. No planes, parachutes, helicopters, no mechanical or electrical devices. I just want to walk outside, take two steps and take to the air. To fly like the birds. That has always been my one dream that nothing could replicate.

When I was 6 or 7, my parents, knowing my interest in Magic, took me to see the greatest illusionist of this century. David Kotkin. Know by his stage name: David Copperfield.
I don't remember a lot from his show. Bits and pieces here and there. I do remember two illusions quite clearly though. His "Snow" illusion stuck because I love snow and I love skiing and here was this illusionist producing snow from nowhere right in front of me. The other, was when he produced his "Flying" illusion. That did it. It was a dream we both shared and one the seemingly came true. I haven't seen him since then but his flying illusion remains my favorite. Since then, I haven't found a way to fly myself so I expanded to anything that did fly. Birds became my special interest because they were easy to spot and watch and always a challenge to identify (something I also liked, a challenge). They became my way of living a dream. A dream that I will always have. If there was only one thing that I could do before I die, if I had only one choice, I would want to be able to fly out over the hills and valleys, over the plains, over the mountains, lakes, rivers, oceans, over the tundra and back, without having to do anything more than just step into the air and fly.

A new Bigby bird

I found a pair of RN Pheasant today. That's a new Bigby bird for my pathetically short list.

My year list is still stuck at 62... On Fri, I'm going on a field trip over by Lake Michigan so that should lengthen it a little bit.

I head off to Texas next week!!! I can't believe it's soo close! I can't wait! I'm hoping to come back with a triple digit year list.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Rediscovery of Beck's Petrel!

This was posted on the yahoo birding email listserve "Pelagics":

Many will remember, a few years back, the at-sea claimed record of a
Beck's Petrel from the Coral Sea off Queensland. Although lauded in
the press the Birds Australia Records Committee subsequently did not
accept this record. Since then, birds resembling Beck's Petrels were
seen by those on the Western Pacific Odyssey cruise in 2007.

Hadoram Shirihai has now published the indisputable rediscovery of
Beck's Petrel. The formal announcement has awaited the publication of
his important paper, published yesterday in the Bulletin of the
British Ornithologists Club. Hadoram's fieldwork in 2003 and 2007 was
in the Northern Solomon and Bismarck Seas off Papua New Guinea.

Beck's Petrel has been considered 'maybe extinct' (Bretagnolle et al.
1998), 'exceedingly rare' (Brooke 2004), and is treated by BirdLife
International (2004) as Critically Endangered. Hadoram has found a
substantial population (up to 30 seen in a day and 16 at any one time,
and often with Tahiti Petrels for direct comparison, side by side). A
suspected breeding locality for Beck's Petrel has been found, based on
the birds' behaviour and indicated by recently fledged juveniles. A
freshly dead, and recently fledged, juvenile was salvaged at sea
(which is now lodged at NHM, Tring) which becomes the third specimen
only, and the first since Rollo Beck's of 1928 and 1929.

The paper gives full co-ordinates for all sightings and notable is the
hotspot of southernmost New Ireland from where post-breeding moulting
adults and juveniles were seen. This Pseudobulweria is fundamentally
identical to Tahiti Petrel P. rostrata, except in size. Full
measurements of the new specimen are given and the fieldwork confirmed
becki as being up to 20% smaller than Tahiti Petrel with a visibly
shorter wingspan and narrower wing. The jizz and flight is described
in the paper to help with future field identification and,
importantly, there are good photos of a juvenile in flight and an
immature/adult (on moult limits).

The taxon appears to warrant specific status but has in the past also
been considered a race of Tahiti Petrel. Vincent Bretagnolle et al are
now underway with molecular studies of both becki and rostrata.

This refinding of Beck's Petrel is exceptional news and
congratulations go to Hadoram Shirihai for his effort and energy in
rediscovering this 'lost' petrel.

Further reading:'s_Petrel,25197,23333570-12377,00.html