Tuesday, May 30, 2006

My Little Chickadees

Chickadees. How cute are they, eh? Soooooooooo, cute!

They can bite like the dickens, though. Try taking one out of a mist net prior to banding. At least the Carolina Chickadees that seem to be expanding their range here in Central Florida.

I am guessing that the Black-capped and Chestnut-backed versions in Washington would pack a similar vise-like grip.
Those two species were high on my list as we headed out to the West. Managed to peg them both on different days.

The first would be the Black-capped Chickadees. They were found on that wrong turn day I mentioned in a previous post where I ended up in Belfair. Managed to end up at the entrance to a trail, so I stepped out for a breath of fresh air and a scan of the trees.

Black-capped Chickadee

Not far above me was a family of Chickadees busily chasing one another through the nearly bursting buds on many trees that I couldn't quickly identify. The Chickadees would fly out in little bursts, sometimes zipping high and sometimes tracking lower to land nearly above my head.

It was the first time I had heard that clear "Chick-a-dee-dee-dee" call so clearly. The Florida birds tend to alter their calls a bit from the norm.

A little past the tree party, near a large group of neglected and empty bird feeders, was a couple more birds interested more in preening and relaxing than chasing one another. I managed to creep in close enough to get a nice shot through the branches. This bird didn't seem to mind me leaning in to say 'Hi'.

Black-capped Chickadee

It took longer than I had hoped to find the Chestnut-backed Chickadees. I had read that they frequented the woods near the beach at Dungeness but I couldn't find any. Not saying they weren't there, but I didn't find them. The rain probably kept them, literally, high-and-dry.

The first ones showed up when I bought that bird feeder near the end of the trip. That entry is detailed here.

The action was fast and furious that morning and we had to move along but having a couple of OK shots to bring home was nice. Every so often, a curious bird would land beneath the feeder and stare down next to the steps to see if it was worth the trip.

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

The next time we are out there the task will be to get a more natural looking photo. Maybe I can find them nearer to the coast, then. A bigger camera rig would probably make a difference, too.

So would actually trying to get a shot instead of being blinded by their cuteness.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Meanwhile, Back in Washington...Creepers

Despite the urge to post the most recent photos, such as the baby birds showing up all over, I need to finish the Washington State birds. So many birds, so little...ya know.


The first morning in Port Orchard yielded a number of birds that were new to me right off the bat. In my hunt for the new "alarm clock" I eventually headed around to the back of the house which contains a lot of 150 ft. trees of various species.

I almost found the Wren I was hunting down when another bird flew across an early morning sunbeam through the branches and landed on a trunk in the shadows ahead of me. I slowly made my way toward the landing spot and finally could make out the shape and movement of a Brown Creeper.

Even though it was the first Creeper I had ever seen, I knew what it was immediately. It matched the descriptions and behaviors I had read in the past and here it was, 30 feet in front of me at eye level. Still too dark for a good photo but a great find.

As the week wore on it kept "creeping" up on me that I wouldn't have a photo of such an interesting bird. There were plenty other birds around but it would be nice to have one for the blog, eh? Well, about a week later, as we were walking down the trail at Nisqually in the light rain, we discovered not one, but two more!

This first shot is actually the 2nd I got. I like the way it shows the curve of the bill since these birds hug so tight to the tree and it was hard to get an angle that showed a profile.

Brown Creeper

The second shot, being the first, was a Creeper that was in a feeding flock of Chickadees, Golden-crowned Sparrows, and Song Sparrows. You can tell from this shot how easily they blend in to the bark of the local trees.

Brown Creeper

Another happy ending to one of the birds I had given up on finding. Twice.

Just like a lot of things in life, once you stop trying so hard things just seem to happen. Still we keep doing it, again and again.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Hello, Stranger!

I will get back to the Washington birds. Promise. However, we did have a little surprise this past Sunday out at Wekiva.

It was not a bad day. Pretty good for this time of year, actually. Still had some migrants moving through which included some fun stuff among the variety of local species.

Here it was, the first week of May, and we still managed a Gray Catbird, several Ovenbirds, and a few Black-throated Blue Warblers. Then an Eastern Palm Warbler flew into a net. They are suppose to be way up North this time of year. I was thinking the Palm would be the bird of the day.

Even though we had a Black and White Warbler and only the third, fourth, and fifth Blackpoll ever banded at Wekiva State Park I still was very perplexed by this late Palm Warbler.

Oh, well. Chalk it up to a fluke. The morning was waning and the breeze was picking up as the temperature headed toward 94 degrees that day. Time to close the nets and call it a day.

We had most of the nets folded and as I headed back to the table to pack up I heard someone say that there was one more bird in one of the loop nets. Alright. Probably another Common Yellow-throat. I dropped the net bags and sat at the table to await the bird for ID and banding.

The bag was handed to me and I asked. "So, what have we here?"

"Either a Mourning or a Connecticut.", Shemus stated as he reached for a field guide. I stopped in my tracks, thinking he was kidding. "If it is either of those it would be a tad special!." I said with a smile. I took my time getting the bird out of the bag as everyone gathered around, starting to get excited.

I pulled the bird out of the bag and we all got a good look and looked at one another. Smiles all around! It WAS a Connecticut Warbler!! First ever record officially at Wekiva and first sighting for every single one of us.

Connecticut Warbler

I took my time with the bird, a male, and took many, many photos. As the group headed out they called behind me, "You can't take it home, Andrew!".

I let it go and last saw it heading in a Southeast direction, band flashing in the hot sunshine.

What I call cool.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Uh, Oh. I've Been Tagged!

We interrupt the Washington State Bird review for this late breaking news! I have been tagged by a fellow blogger!!!

Here I was, just minding my business, working my 12-14 hour shifts this week when I received an email that I almost deleted. The subject line read, "Most Beautiful Birds Meme Tag" and was from one John L. Trapp. Could it be spam? Don't know.

The 'bird' mention sucked me in. Hey, I'm on a Mac and use a third-party email program so the virus problem is, oh, nil. So, 'click'.

Took me to John's blog page and post. Claims he, himself was tagged by yet another blogger and was following through. I was simply surprised that anyone out there in the country outside of my local birders knew of my site.

The task is this:

"The rules are simple: Post a list of the 10 birds you consider most beautiful on your blog; you may limit the list to the ABA area (continental United States and Canada) or use a geographic area of your choice. Mark birds you have seen with an asterisk. Tag 3 bloggers to keep it going."

Not one to usually follow through on chain letter kind of thing but I figure that birders are, by and large, a harmless and friendly bunch and it is a kind of networking in this sense. So why not?

Being that I am fairly new to this blogging thing, I figured I might not have my favorite, beautiful birds on the blog itself. The blog started as a quicker way to showcase some birds on the fly instead of trying to find time to update the photography site as often which I do by hand and takes longer to do.

Looking through my few posts I guess I will settle on the following birds:

American Wigeon*
Eurasian Wigeon*
American Goldfinch*
Barn Owl*
Harrier Hawk*
Hooded Merganser*
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker*
Grey Jay*
Steller's Jay*
Brown Thrasher*

Still haven't posted about the Harlequin Duck or a full post on the Chestnut-sided Chickadee but they are right up there. Not to mention all of my Wood Duck shots. They can all be found over at my photo site at Rather Be Photog....

Who to tag? Let's see. I tag Laura at Birder's Blog, Bill at Bill of the Birds, and Sharon at Birdchick Blog.

I enjoy all of them. Hope they don't mind.

Now, maybe I can get back to my Washington birds since just about all of our Winter residents have just about left us here in Florida.