Category: late fall birds

An update to Summer and a disappointing Fall

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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

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

Take bird photos even bad ones

By , November 17, 2012 1:13 pm

Grebe among the Swans 11/16/12

Grebe among the Swans 11/16/12

When I lived in Memphis and was active in the local birding groups, I tried to take a many pictures as possible when on bird trips without making myself a nuisance and slowing everyone down. If you simply want to identify as many different species of birds, the extra effort to take pictures will slow you down. There is a great benefit in taking photos. We all make mistakes and we all miss birds. Especially with any bird that appears in large group such as water birds, this can allow you to rexamine what you saw and correct your observations or add birds you missed. Yesterday is a good example. We had at least 30 Trumpeter Swans on the lake and I took dozens of photos. One one I saw a Pied-billed Grebe. Hardly a rare bird but any bird is welcome. Today looking at my photos I saw on odd man out (or odd swan out). I had a Tundra Swan in a small group of Trumpeters.

The digital camera has revolutionized wildlife photography. It was simply not possible, in the days of film photography, to examine your images while in the field. Unless one had a mechanized film lab at home, it took quite a while to go from the film canister to either film or contact prints that can be safely examined. Digital photos are almost truly instant. So today barley 45 minutes after taking the photos I am able to see the images on identify them. So below is a image of a Tundra Swan with a Trumpeter. You can see the Tundra is on the right.

Tundra and Trumpeter Swan

Tundra and Trumpeter Swan

Pine Grosbeaks

By , November 15, 2012 1:36 pm

Pine Grosbeaks on Lake Beauty 11/14/2012

Pine Grosbeaks on Lake Beauty

One of the great joys of birdwatching is the possibility of seeing a bird that you haven’t seen before or having the opportunity to see well a bird you only glimpsed momentarily. This year we had seen 2 new birds: the Lark Sparrow and the Black Tern. Just yesterday we added a third. I managed to see 2 Pine Grosbeaks in our neighbors yard and at the boat landing on Lake Beauty. The birds are normal fall and winter visitors to this part of the world but we had never seen them before. I would normally expect them in late December or January (following the pattern of Redpolls who usually come in January) but this year we have already had a Common Redpoll showing up at our feeder.

I don’t know how long we will see them or if yesterday was a one off appearance.

Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak 11/14/2012

Trumpeter Swans on the Lake

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By , November 8, 2012 7:10 pm

Trumpeter Swans Oct 5 2012

Trumpeter Swans Oct 5 2012

We are now in November. For the last 2 weeks we have had Trumpeter Swans on our local lake. While I cannot be absolutely sure that a Tundra hasn’t snuck in, all the birds I have seen well and been able to identify have been Trumpeters. The call is very easy to identify. The largest group we saw so far was 16-20 birds on October 5th. For some reason the Swans seem to like the far end of the lake so I have not gotten many good pictures of them (in fact all the good ones were taken on the 5th). Given how rare the Trumpeter was only a few years ago, it is quite exciting to see them. I never saw them when I lived in NJ.

We have gotten a few other waterfowl. We are seening Canada Geese regularly. We saw a Common Goldeneye just yesterday. Unfortunately fall is progressiong and the lake will soon be frozen over. That will end the waterfowl until Spring.

Trumpeter Swan group 10/5/12

Trumpeter Swan group 10/5/12

Mid October Bird Slowdown

By , October 18, 2012 1:45 pm
White-crowned Sparrow in a group of Juncos

White-crowned Sparrow

The October slowdown in bird observations is in full swing. The trees have lost most of their leaves. The migrating warblers may be done. I saw one Yellow-rumped Warbler yesterday but the noisy active flocks are gone. Our migrating Sparrows are slowing down. From multiples of White-throated that have been visible for a few weeks were are left with stragglers. So, today I saw one White-throated Sparrow and one Harris’s Sparrow. I took my last photo of a White-crowned for the season on Monday.

Common Loons

Common Loons 10/16/12

There are many birds that nest in Minnesota that avoid busy lakes during the summer. Now that our lake is more or less empty we are starting to see those birds more regularly. We actually been seeing Swans irregularly since early September. The loons have lost their summer plumage and are ready for winter. When I walk Sierra in the afternoon. I usually manage to scare a Wood Duck or two.

For the last week or so Red-breasted Nuthatches have been active in our yard. They are not too skittish but they have a habit of grabbing some food and running for cover so they don’t linger at the feeder for long. They are visible in Minnesota most of the year but only erratically at our feeders. So, we don’t know how long this visit will be but we will enjoy it while it lasts.

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Harris's Sparrow

Harris’s Sparrow

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

recent birds – new binocular

By , December 5, 2011 7:30 pm

Purple Finch

Purple Finch

Not much birding action lately. Our lake is frozen enough to skate on it. A pair of men were walking across the lake last week when it didn’t look very safe. We have been seeing Purple Finches, some later Brewer’s and Rusty Blackbirds. The Northern Shrike has been visiting. Just today we saw an unidentified bird that I think my be a kestrel but I am not sure.

I purchased a new pair of binoculars. I chose a Steiner Predator Extreme 10 x 42 binoculars. My old Swift Audubons wore out and I don’t think they were worth fixing. These were the best of those I examined. I looked that Nikon Monarchs 10×42’s and a Leupold 10×42. I hate the Nikons. That surprised me because this model is chosen by the NJ Audubon Society. In any event the diopter adjuster is terrible, the adjustment is too coarse. I like the Leupolds but they had a too narrow field. The Steiners are bit more expensive than the other two and a bit better made. The diopter adjustment is the finest among any I looked at. The field is a bit narrow for my taste by not narrow for a roof prism binocular. They are useable. They do have a bit of chromatic abberation. Not unusual in their price range but more than I prefer. ( I compared them with a 20+ year old Adblerblick binocular. That model is not as well made as the Steiner but it has very low chromatic abberation.

Are there better binoculars in my price range? Perhaps. Should I have purchased the newer Swift Audubons? Again perhaps, but I heard a lot of criticism of that model and I needed to know I would be comfortable with what I chose.

Steiner 10 x 42 Predator Extreme

Steiner 10 x 42 Predator Extreme

Bad photos – good birds

By , November 24, 2011 7:58 pm
Northern Shrike

Northern Shrike

Our birding is slowing down. I am taking fewer pictures each day and on some days I wiil take none at all. Tuesday, 11/22/11, was a gray day, not wet just cloudy and dark. We saw a Northern Shrike (and I mean we since Shawnne also saw it). I managed to get a passible photo of the Shrike. Certainly not a rare bird in MN, but not one that one sees every day. Both of us also saw a Mourning Dove and I managed to get a photo (not a great one either). The Mourning Dove can show up in any month of the year, but it is uncommon after October or Before March. In any event this is the first time I have seen one in November in Minnesota, Looking at my records we have now recorded Mourning Doves in all 12 months of the year. Both photos were taken through a window that has 3 panes of glass so it isn’t sharp.

Late Season Mourning Dove

Late Season Mourning Dove

We have a few Red-winged Blackbirds hanging on. A blast of cold weather this week froze the lake so they should be moving on soon. We had a flock of Canada Geese last Sunday that I think contained a Cackling Goose but the photo I took was taken through four sheets of glass (two doors) so it is not sharp. I haven’t decided whether or not to upload it yet.

Late Season Birds – a Rusty Blackbird seen

By , November 19, 2011 1:01 pm

Rusty Blackbird

Rusty Blackbird 11/18/11

We saw a Rusty Blackbird yesterday. It isn’t a rare bird but because it is so easily missed in a flock of blackbirds it needs to be looked for. I don’t think I have seen these more than 5 or 6 times in my life. In the last 4 or 5 years the situation didn’t allow a lot of time to scan flocks of birds. (Most of the time when I was in Memphis, I lived in a development which was built on land completely bulldozed so that no original trees of foliage was left. It was not a good place to see any birds.) Now back in Minnesota and on a lake we are on an ideal place to see birds. At this point of the year the huge flocks of blackbirds (mostly Redwings) have dwindled to a handful. So we have been seeing a late season Common Grackle and now the Rusty. With the first snow today the season is truly coming to a close so very soon we won’t have even have the stragglers.

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