Category: bird migration

An update to Summer and a disappointing Fall

comments Comments Off on An update to Summer and a disappointing Fall
By , October 18, 2016 12:16 am
Black and White Warbler 8/9/2016

Black and White Warbler 8/9/2016

I’ve been lax in keeping up this blog. The biggest issue is a camera. My old camera died and my replacement is just barely adequate. So, this has been the first post for quite a while.

Every year is different and yet it is the same. Whenever I do the number, we see about the same each year. Still the migrations seasons have been mediocre. Our lake still hasn’t recovered since someone cut all the small trees down in 2012. The Fall of 2016 has been disappointing. Not very many Warblers, no Thrushes at all, so far no Duck, Geese or Swans. I wonder where the little birds have gone.

Great Crest Flycather 7/2/201

Great Crest Flycatcher 7/2/2016

We also had several appearances of the Scarlet Tanager.

Scarlet Tanager 8/29/16

Scarlet Tanager 8/29/16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had some wonderful birds.

The Black and White Warbler came by a few times and I was lucky enough to get a photo. The July 4th party at hour neighbors upset the Great Crested Flycatcher enough that it hung around our yard and I got the best photos I ever had of them.

In the last few days we’ve seen both the Harris’s Sparrow and the Fox Sparrow, and got decent photos of them. They are the highlight of our Fall.

Fox Sparrow 10/17/16

Fox Sparrow 10/17/16

Harris's Sparrow 10/17/16

Harris’s Sparrow 10/17/16

End of 2015

By , December 31, 2015 3:08 pm
Scarlet Tanager 9/10/2015

Scarlet Tanager 9/10/2015

Today is New Year’s Eve. I haven’t put out a post in quite some time, so this is a good excuse to put one out.    My memory has this as a mediocre year, but looking at the numbers, it wasn’t so bad.  Still the effects of having broken my ankle in 2013 are still there.   We aren’t doing the bird walks we have done in the past. I also blame Molly, our dog, I simply cannot take photos were walking with her.  Sierra was great that way.  So, I don’t have as many good photos of birds that I encounter while walking the dog.

I cannot blame the weather, it wasn’t bad.   We didn’t have early snow nor did the lake ice up early.  The birds haven’t performed as well as expected, but anyone who does any birding knows that each year is different.   I do wish I could turn back the clock to 2012, I had my best second half birding season.  As anyone knows the second half of the year is harder because the birds are less colorful and the leaves make spotting them difficult.

We did have highlights.  We probably had our best image of a male Scarlet Tanager in post breeding plumage ever.  We also took a fairly good shot of an Oregon Junco, given our equipment. We had a Fall White-crowned Sparrow, something that we missed last year. We didn’t have a Fall Harris’s Sparrow, but one cannot be lucky all the time.

Oregon Junco 10/25/2015

Oregon Junco 10/25/2015

White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows 10/25/15

White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows

Nearing the end of the 2014

By , November 25, 2014 1:07 pm
Pileated Woodpecker 11/6/14

Pileated Woodpecker 11/6/14

2014 may not be over, but our birding year seems finished.   We have had an early cold spell and an early snow storm (about 10 inches here).  Perhaps we will get a late season Pine Grosbeak (we can get them in December), but our local lakes froze over about ten days ago, so we won’t see any more Trumpeter Swans or any late season Buffleheads.   We had been getting Bald Eagles, but I can imagine that any around here will be going soon.

Ever since I broke my ankle last year, my birding has slowed down a bit.  I am just about able to take longer walks now but I wouldn’t trust myself on snow and ice.  So, I am not walking the dog and seeing what she scares up each afternoon.  I have taken many fewer photos than in 2012.  When I look at the numbers of birds seen, it doesn’t look so bad, but it hasn’t been a good year no matter what the number say.  We had a very wet spring and the local lakes never went down. A lot of birds we see along the shore simply weren’t visible.   I didn’t see any Swamp Sparrow this Fall.   In general our numbers were down. We didn’t get any White-crowned, Harris’s or Fox Sparrows this Fall.  (We can still get a Fox Sparrow, of course.)   So I am looking forward to a much better year next year.   Better mobility for me and perhaps a lower lake level to show off the birds. On the top of the page you see a Pileated Woodpecker from November 6th.

Here are a few recent photos.   We’ve had Pileated Woodpeckers almost every day.  I have posted a photo of a young Bald Eagle that we saw near a local lake.

To the right is a photo of a few men putting an icehouse on the lake. Very early, the earliest anyone I know can remember. This makes it really look like Winter (if the snow doesn’t already put you in the mood).

Bald Eagle 11/8/2014

Bald Eagle 11/08/2014

Pulling an icehouse 11/22/14

Pulling an icehouse 11/22/14

A mediocre Spring – but at least it wasn’t winter.

By , July 8, 2014 11:54 pm
Northern Harrier 04/26/14

Northern Harrier 04/26/14

We had a poorer than normal migration season this April and May. The late very cold winter meant that we had very few early migrators. The Our first Bluebird was seen on April 5th, our first ducks showed up on April 7th. Our most common warbler, the Yellow-rumped, arrived on 4/19 and stay for just over a month. The last winter Junco was seen on May 5th. lack of snow meant that local farm fields weren’t a suitable substitute for a real lake, so our local temporary ponds only had ducks for a few days. Combined with my slowly healing ankle that limited my walking, we just didn’t see as much as hoped for.

Still we had some surprises. We saw a Northern Waterthrush for a few days in May. I hadn’t seen them before in MN, though they are common in NJ. We had the Harris’s Sparrow for parts of 2 weeks, a very long visit for them.

Northern Waterthrush 05/17/14

Northern Waterthrush 05/17/14

Harris's Sparrow 5/10/14

Harris’s Sparrow 5/10/14

Rose-breasted Grosbeak 5/10/14

Rose-breasted Grosbeak 5/10/14

Bufflehead 4/23/14

Bufflehead 4/23/14

Hooded Mergansers 4/11/14

Hooded Mergansers 4/11/14

Eastern Bluebird 4/26/14

Eastern Bluebird 4/26/14

Yellow-rumped Warbler 4/24/14

Yellow-rumped Warbler 4/24/14

Ruffed Grouse 4/11/14

Ruffed Grouse 4/11/14

Redhead and Ring-necked Duck 4/22/14

Redhead and Ring-necked Duck 4/22/14

Wood Ducks 4/22/14

Wood Ducks 4/22/14

Slow birding and injuries

By , September 16, 2013 1:41 pm
Common Loon with injured leg

Common Loon with injured leg

My last post was in mid-July and it covered the Summer birding doldrums. I had no idea that only a few days later I would break my ankle and have an even more significant birding slowdown. On Sunday July 28th, I was walking Molly, I took a short-cut to the lake and suddenly found myself on the ground with my foot at an improbable angle. I realized it was broken. I yelled for help and Shawnne pulled the car over so I could crawl in. I won’t bore you with additional details. Needless to say, I am not going to spend my mornings walking around and looking for migrating birds.

It took a while but I am able to sit outside courtesy of a wheelchair. Except for the days I have gone to the doctor I haven’t been able to take pictures away from the house. So, I have had no opportunity to take duck or swan photos, nor can I take out the telescope and scan our lake for birds.

It isn’t a total loss. Migration has started for real. We had an inch and a half of rain on Saturday. That brought the worms to the surface and we had bunch of Northern Flickers on Saturday and Sunday. It was a bit too dark to get a great photo but I posted what I had.

I am posting a few photos from August. Again not great but good considering the lighting and distance.

Northern Flicker  9/15/13

Northern Flicker 9/15/13

Rose-breasted Grosbeak 9/4/13

Rose-breasted Grosbeak 9/4/13

Kingfisher 8/28/13

Kingfisher 8/28/13

Osprey 8/29/13

Osprey 8/29/13

Summer Doldrums and Missing Birds

comments Comments Off on Summer Doldrums and Missing Birds
By , July 18, 2013 3:52 pm

Ruby-throated Humingbird 7/16/13

Ruby-throated Humingbird 7/16/13

Now that it is mid-July it is more than obvious not only is the migration season ended but bird activity is slowing down. Usually I have been able to take a short walk during the day and pick up a few birds to add to our daily list. In the last few weeks I am turning up less and less each day. The Ovenbirds and Yellow Warblers that we hear every day have just about stopped singing. Last year was unusual. Looking at statewide observations, Dickcissels were widely reported in the Central part of the state, this year reports are few. We haven’t seen any. Some birds that we expect to see every day, such as Kestrels, that like to sit on wires, have been almost invisible.

We have started to take an evening bird run instead of doing it during the heat of the afternoon. For a few weeks we were having luck seeing Kingbirds and Bobolinks, but in the last few days we are getting very little. Bobolinks can be hard to spot in the grass, but we aren’t even hearing them.

Of course there are positives this month. We have been seeing both Clay-colored and Savannah Sparrows a few times a week. We have seen Indigo Buntings along a local read near our house. We have seen some Empidonax flycatchers and on a few occasions they have been vocal enough to identify (but not close enough to photograph).

Bobolinks 7/13/13

Bobolinks 7/13/13

Indigo Bunting 7/17/13

Indigo Bunting 7/17/13

Yellow Warbler 7/08/13

Yellow Warbler 7/08/13

Savannah Sparrow 7/16/13

Savannah Sparrow 7/16/13

Spring Warblers by the Boatload

By , May 28, 2013 8:29 pm
Blackburnian Warbler 5/23/13

Blackburnian Warbler 5/23/13

This has been a very strange and very late Spring.  Some birds are coming in very late and some, like the Spring Sparrows, came in more or less that same time as usual.  For both my wife and I the Spring Warblers are among our favorite birds.  They are popular because they are among the most colorful birds in North America, and in Spring they display breeding plumage.   In the Fall, the birds are often far less colorful and they can be much harder to see against the leaves.  Our first Warbler this year was the Yellow-rumped Warbler.  This is probably the most common Warbler among the migrants.   It is always the first to come, but usually it comes in late March or early April.

We had 6 days of rain from May 17th to May 22nd and the weather broke on the afternoon of the 22nd.  That evening we had a groups of Vireos fly through.  The next morning brought a flight of Warblers.  They were particularly active at the public access just a few hundred feet from our front door.   Warblers in the tall trees can be hard to identify but when they are jumping around in the grass, one doesn’t have any problems. Most of the time these ‘flights’ last a day or 2 but this one has gone on for 6 days. What was nice is that we barely had to go past our front door.

Tennessee Warbler 5/23/13

Tennessee Warbler 5/23/13

Blackpoll Warbler 5/23/13

Blackpoll Warbler 5/23/13

Pine Warbler 5/23/13

Pine Warbler 5/23/13

Cape May Wabler 5/23/13

Cape May Wabler 5/23/13

American Redstart 5/28/13

American Redstart 5/28/13

Wilsons's Warbler 5/25/13

Wilsons’s Warbler 5/25/13

Canada Warbler 5/24/13

Canada Warbler 5/24/13

Magnolia Warbler 5/24/13

Magnolia Warbler 5/24/13

Spring Migration Nearing its Peak

By , May 22, 2013 3:33 pm
Bobolink 5/21/13

Bobolink 5/21/13

This has been a very late Spring. The migration of the birds was much later and slower than normal. Some birds that were early last year, such as the Eastern Bluebird, came later and in much smaller numbers than expected. Other birds, such as the Zonotrichia Sparrow, were more or less on time, and very well welcomed by us and other birders.

The Warblers have started to show up all over the place, even if not in the numbers we would hope for. The highlight for us would be the Cape May Warbler. We don’t get them every year so they are always welcomed. Some of the best birds this Spring have been birds we haven’t gotten good photos of or any photos at all. We saw a Black-billed Cuckoo a few days ago, no photo. Shawnne heard a Golden-winged Warbler, no photo.

Baltimore Orioles have been numerous and noisy. Always welcome here. We’ve been getting Pine Warblers at our suet feeder, the bugs must be in short supply. The top photo is a Bobolink. They have just started to come in and we should see them all summer. Most of the photos were

Palm Warbler 5/10/13

Palm Warbler 5/10/13

Clay-colored Sparrow 5/16/13

Clay-colored Sparrow 5/16/13

Cape May Warbler 5/18/13

Cape May Warbler 5/18/13

Indigo Bunting 5/19/13

Indigo Bunting 5/19/13

Eastern Kingbird 5/19/13

Eastern Kingbird 5/19/13

American Redstart 5/16/13

American Redstart 5/16/13

Rose-breasted Grosbeak 5/19/13

Rose-breasted Grosbeak 5/19/13

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 5/14/13

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 5/14/13

Our favorite time of year

comments Comments Off on Our favorite time of year
By , May 5, 2013 10:22 pm
Redheads with Blue-winged and Green-winged Teals 5/2/13

Redheads with Blue-winged and Green-winged Teals 5/2/13

The Winter is finally over, really really really over. It is our favorite time of the year, the Spring Migration. Fall is fun but Spring is easier because we aren’t trying to identify green or brown birds hiding behind green or brown leaves.  The migration is picking up.  Since our last post we had ducks coming through.  Our lakes are still frozen so the ducks were all in temporary ponds that are created from the Spring snow melt.   We have seen some ducks that we hadn’t seen before in Minnesota.  Last Thursday we saw  a large group of Redheads in one of the ponds.  In the same ponds we saw both Teals and the American Wigeon.

The Sparrows are still coming in.  Since our last post the White-crowned and Lincoln’s Sparrow have come in. They were still here as this evening. We only await the Harris’s Sparrow to have all the Zonotrichia (at least all that come to MN). Our short local bird runs are becoming more fruitful every day. Just yesterday we saw a Savannah Sparrow and a Red-shouldered Hawk (but no photos, sorry). Shortly we expect a rush of Warblers, Vireos and everything else.

White-crowned Sparrow 5/5/13

White-crowned Sparrow 5/5/13

Lincoln's Sparrow 5/2/13

Lincoln’s Sparrow 5/2/13

Sapsucker 5/5/13

Sapsucker 5/5/13

Yellow-rumped Warbler 5/5/13

Yellow-rumped Warbler 5/5/13

Lovely to see you again

By , April 28, 2013 5:23 pm

There is a Moody Blues song with this title which is so appropriate at this time of the year, more so than usual this year. Last year Spring came early and some birds, like the Red-winged Blackbirds, never left for the Winter. This year Spring has been very late, some birds, like the Bluebirds, that we expect to see in numbers have barely appeared. Real Spring weather started to arrive this Friday, when we hit a high of 64. We have taken advantage of the change to drive around and look at all the birds we have been missing. We have had 14 birds make their first appearance of the year. Below is a list of the birds and the dates for each:

White-throated   Sparrow 4/26/2013

Lark Sparrow 4/26/13

Lark Sparrow 4/26/13

Pine Siskin 4/26/2013
Lesser Yellowlegs 4/26/2013
Hooded Merganser 4/26/2013
Northern Shoveler 4/26/2013
Vesper Sparrow 4/26/2013
Lark Sparrow 4/26/2013
Chipping Sparrow 4/26/2013
Tree Swallow 4/26/2013
Brown Thrasher 4/27/2013
Great Egret 4/27/2013
Field Sparrow 4/27/2013
Clay-colored Sparrow 4/28/2013
Barn Swallow 4/28/2013

Anyone who watches birds knows that their migration cannot be stopped but emotionally it was easy to believe they would never come. In any event, real Spring has arrived. The birds are moving in, some with just be passing through and some are here for the summer.

Field Sparrow 4/27/13

Field Sparrow 4/27/13

Lesser Yellowlegs 4/26/13

Lesser Yellowlegs 4/26/13

Ospreys 4/27/13

Ospreys 4/27/13

Wood Duck and Hoodded Merganser

Wood Duck and Hooded Merganser

Panorama Theme by Themocracy