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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Oct 14, 2010 9:45am Lippitt Memorial Park

After a short walk me and my brother came to our destination, a small park directly across from Swan Point Cemetery, seconds later I was bouncing about yelping wildly "Nighthawks, Nighthawks, Common Nighthawks!". A flock of buoyant brown birds with blazing white wing patches came flying over head.

They were most likely migrating south for the winter. Bat like and graceful wings powerfully pushing this brown evening bird over Providence, watching the people swarm below them.

Nighthawks are a crepuscular birds in the day, they usually try to stay hidden using their mottled brown plumage to make them look like just another branch or some dead leaves on the ground. But when the evening arrives they're up and hunting in search of nice juicy bugs.

These Common Nighthawks were my very first Goatsuckers (Goatsuckers are a family of birds of which Nighthawks are members of) and lifers! We also found some Chipping Sparrows, a female Redstart and some Chickadees. Amazingly we saw another and even larger flock of Nighthawks at our soccer practice on the same day and another flock a few days later at our soccer game!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

August 10-17 2010, Acadia National Park, Mt. Desert Island, Maine

Common Loon

a view of Jordan's Pond

Maine, "The Vacation State" (or to me "The Bird State").

It was our first trip to Acadia, it was truly the most beautiful place I had ever seen. On the drive to Mt. Desert Island I spotted a stunning Bald Eagle feeding in a pine (it was only a hundred feet or so away from what I believe was a Black-Crowned Night-Heron who was standing on the rocky banks of a stream).

As we pulled into our campsite the rain clouds, which had been following us since we had entered Maine three hours ago, suddenly burst and we were stuck setting up our tent in the poring rain and dark! Our Grandparents had booked this trip for us all months before but sadly though they were not able to come due to a medical problem.

We had many beautiful and common neighbours like the handsome Dark-Eyed Juncos, the delightful Golden-Crowned Kinglets (the miniature kings of the forest), the smartly dressed Red-Breasted Nuthatches and lively Black-Capped Chickadees which could easily be found flitting through the Boreal forest (which happened to be only twenty feet away from our lot).

A quick walk would take us down to the ocean where Common Eiders drifted over the gently rolling waves. Gulls frolicked on the wind and Double-Crested Cormorants stood sullenly watching the unidentified black dots in the distants which we were pretty sure were Black Guillemots, a black and white Alcid species which we have never had the chance to set our eyes upon.

All in all it was a perfect place to spend a week long vacation at considering all the birds, the lovely forests, mushrooms, lichens, mountains, lakes streams, waterfalls and (one) ocean.

The highlights for the week included: Northern Parula, Bald Eagle, Wild Turkey, a Common Loon who was howling wildly while an Osprey soared gracefully overhead, Brown Creeper, Black Guillemots (lifer!), Magnolia Warbler, Black and White Warblers, Laughing Gull, a Semipalmated Plover walking on some FLOATING(!) seaweed, American Redstart, Spotted Sandpipers and a possible Common Raven. Other animals seen on the trip included Red and White Admirals, Harbor Seals, White-Tailed Deer, Red Squirrel, Gray Squirrel, Eastern Chipmunk and a Snapping Turtle. We had lots of fun hiking and biking through the lovely park of Acadia!

Special thanks to Richard MacDonald (the owner of "The Natural History Center" in downtown Bar Harbor. He was very helpful and gave us a bunch of nice walk locals of birding hot-spots to visit).

And thanks to my grandparents Therese and John Goodchild, we greatly missed you and I hope that you can come with us up to Maine next year!

Friday, October 22, 2010

2010 Young Birder of the Year Contest

I just completed the 2010 Young Birder of the Year Contest which I have been working on since April!
Hopefully I will win something last year I won a pair of Vortex Fury 8x32 binoculars!

Monday, October 18, 2010

July 22, 2010 11:30-1:30pm Sunny and clear Brewster Natural History Museum, Wing's Island, Brewster MA

(captive) Diamond Back Terrapin

Clearwing Moth

Clearwing Moth

Red Spotted Purple

The birding was exceptional! An American Crow flew purposefully overhead and a Red-Winged Blackbird screeched nosily from the salt marsh shoulders blazing red and gold in the morning sun. Red Spotted Purple Butterflies flapped lazily about while a handsome Osprey took a relaxing break on his well built stick nest.

A man at the trail head showed us the museum's pet Diamond Back Terrapin which he was taking for a stroll on the grass. The Terrapin was a deathly white color which the man told us was due to the years of captivity.

Black-Capped Chickadees flitted through some trees calling cheerfully. A goldfinch dashed buoyantly over the salt marsh. An Eastern Grey Squirrel (the bane of bird feeders) foraged through the fallen leaves in hopes of finding a yummy acorn to make a mess with on a log (which any ordinary Squirrel would tell you is the second best thing to do with a nut after eating it of course).

An American Copper, a small and common butterfly, fluttered leisurely by, enjoying the beautiful scenery and praying not to be the next meal of the Eastern Phoebe who was now perched on a branch waiting for a delicious insect to pass him by. A Common Yellowthroat darted from bush to bush while a lovely House Finch flew over head and a House Wren flitted through some scrubby bushes.

A Song Sparrow sang its rich and buoyant song from the branches of a small evergreen while a pair of Downy Woodpeckers scaled an oak tree in search of a fresh and juicy bug. An Eastern Kingbird surveyed the salt marsh from a post, watching the Yellowlegs species hunting for worms in the marsh.

At last we reached the source of the salt in the salt marsh - we turned a corner and were confronted with a large and heavily populated beach and past that a larger and more heavily populated Ocean. Peeps and Piping Plovers scuttled about on the muddy tidal flats taking wing at the slightest sign of danger which often was us. Two small and beautiful Least Terns dived for fish in the blue depths of the Atlantic Ocean.

A Laughing Gull flew by and Great Black-Backed and Herring Gulls rested on the beach. Millions of tiny fish zipped through the water hunted after by the Least Terns, one prehistoric looking Double-Crested Cormorant, a Great-Blue Heron and most any bird who had an appetite for fish. Three Willet flew by madly flapping their flashy wings adorned with a banner of black and white. An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail flew gracefully by while a Blue Jay shrieked as it dashed past.

The real excitement came when we found a pure red bird moving through a tree and a pure red bird is a good bird (unless it's a Cardinal and then its just an ordinary bird) - it stayed for only a few seconds then it vanished into the forest. It was acting like a tanager staying at the top of the tree and shyly flitting through the canopy. We have two tanager species in New England: the common red and black Scarlet Tanager and the uncommon and pure red Summer Tanager. The bird we saw had red wings - the scarlet has black. Sadly we were not able to see its face which would have positively identified it. We walked away wandering if it was the common Northern Cardinal or a Summer Tanager which would have been a very nice addition to my life list.

A Red Squirrel chattered from a tree and an Eastern Towhee sang cheerfully from a tree. A Black or Spicebush Swallowtail fluttered by while a large and mean looking Beefly (a big black bug who true to its name resembled a bee) buzzed by us.

Back at the visitor center we found some House Sparrows, a Grey Catbird and lots of Clearwing moths who resemble hummingbirds as much as they resemble moths. It was a very enjoyable day all in all!

Friday, October 15, 2010

July 2, 2010 4:40-6 pm Fisherville Audubon, Exeter RI

As usual the woodlands of Fisherville were bustling with life. Blue Jays shrieked raucously. We found a peaceful Giant Skipper fluttering about the smelly butterfly garden situated next to the outhouse.

Red-Eyed Vireos hopped and flew through the canopy waiting for their arch enemies the Blue Jays to pass by and then the chase would be on. They are both very aggressive species and always seem to be quarreling with one another for no specific reason.

Today the forest was filled with life though not all of it was noisy. Mushrooms (and trees) were everywhere today, silent spectators of the quarrelling jays and vireos.

An immature hawk, most Likely a Broad-Winged or a Sharp-Shinned, stared resolutely at the bird feeder until we came into sight and then flew hastily off.

A Veery hoped into view with a light green half inch inch worm clutched tightly in his bill. Downy Woodpeckers hurried down trees (we saw three in total) while a Black-Capped Chickadee flitted through the trees over head. A Wood Thrush perched luxuriously on a branch and a little farther on we discovered another handsome thrush.

In the pond we found the albino or domestic Mallard that we have seen here before. Due to it's pot belly I am pretty sure it was a domestic Mallard. A small and gentile female Wood Duck was also taking a swim in pond today.

We found a Chipping Sparrow hopping through the bushes and a little further down the path a Grey Catbird (sadly we did not find any Purple Dogbirds!)

Although we had a fairly small list of birds it was highlighted by the many colourful mushrooms as much as it was by the birds.

Friday, October 8, 2010

June 30 2010 3-5pm windy and sunny Norman Bird Sanctuary, Middletown RI

Today we were finally going to take the hour long drive to the gorgeous bird-lands of RI namely the stunning Norman Bird Sanctuary which holds two seventy foot high cliffs, something that is not common in our flat state of Rhode Island.

House Sparrows, Robins, Goldfinches and Tree Swallows happily welcomed us back to woodlands, marsh's, ponds and meadows of Norman Bird Sanctuary. Cardinals and Catbirds hoped through the bushes glaring eyes always watching us as we strolled down the well kept paths. A female Turkey with her ten fat polts scurried across the path and hastily scrambled to relative safety under a mass of healthy bushes. Four Mourning Doves burst from the path their wings flapping noisily they acted as if angry dogs were chasing them - how wrong they were.

An orchestra of caws alerted us to the brief presence of six social American Crows who flew gracefully over us still trying their best to play Beethoven's Fifth. A Chipping Sparrow hopped about on the side of the path while Blue Jays shrieked raucously from all about presumably playing there favorite game called "Shriek".

Butterflies fluttered here and there and we found four species by the end of the walk: Tiger Swallowtail, Monarch, Cabbage White and Red Admiral, all common, but beautiful. Eight Black-Capped Chickadees and four Tufted Titmice dashed about the canopy wildly chattering though I didn't quite catch what they were saying.

A buff brown mystery wren shyly flitted about the undergrowth it was either a Winter or a House Wren. We were deep in the woodlands by now. A Red-Tailed Hawk soared casually overhead getting up to date on the local news. A Song Sparrow hopped about on forest floor with his more secretive cousins the Eastern Towhees.

We came upon a small pond, there was a family (two banded parents from Maryland and four gentle goslings) of Canada Geese hanging about on the shore but when we approached they quickly launched themselves into the safe waters of the pond. Three Common Grackles flew overhead mechanically screeching. Two harsh looking Eastern Phoebes stood about by the pond occasionally dashing after a fly and the returning to its former perch. A Green Heron stood on a mudflat on the opposite end of the pond gulping down a fish at least the size of its head.

Further along the path a Downy Woodpecker skipped hurriedly up a tree while an Eastern Gray Squirrel stared at us shocked that any measly little human would enter his woodland kingdom. Every once in a while would come across a Eastern Cottontail feeding of the grass in the path.

At last we came to one of the two cliffs, they both overlooked the Atlantic Ocean and a salt marsh. Two Cedar Waxwings zipped over and countless Herring Gulls soared by at our eye level. There were ten restless Red-Winged Blackbirds who screamed and clucked from the marsh. From our vantage point we could seem a Double-Crested Cormorant standing on the banks of a large pond and two Mute Swans floating quietly in the waters of the pond.

As always we found a Blue Jay and a Red-Eyed Vireo quarreling angrily. I rarely see a Red-Eyed Vireo not quarreling with a Blue Jay.

Other things to note included a: grass green Praying Mantis, another Green Heron, a highly camouflaged Moth, a Turtle and two Chickens. All in all we had 32 birds, 2 Mammals, 6 insects, 1 Amphibian and 1 Reptile.

On the way home we stopped for a bite to eat at Subway while we were there eating our sandwiches outside we saw 5 Glossy Ibis 1 flying North and 4 flying South.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

June 27, 2010 3-4 pm Cloudy & humid Pleasant Valley Audubon, Lenox MA

A handsome Common Yellowthroat greeted us as we stepped out into the parking lot of the beautiful and wildlife-full Pleasant Valley Audubon (this was the last day of our vacation and the most enjoyable).

Three overly friendly Goldfinches dashed gracefully over head twittering madly on their iPhones. Birds sang from all sides. A Catbird meowed angrily from a bush while a dark wraith of a bird soared quietly overhead - it was the garbage man of the bird world, a Turkey Vulture (later we saw another one glide past on its two-toned wings).

Three Black-Capped Chickadees chattered noisily from a pine tree. A red-Eyed Vireo darted through the canopy. Tree Swallows flitted through a small meadow. Soon we came upon a small marshy pond which was connected to some other ponds of the same architecture. Right across from where we were standing a mountain loomed peacefully in front of us (generally rocky mountains are menacing and tree covered ones are peaceful). Robins moved through the mud and weeds of the marshy pond while two Cedar Waxwings zipped by. And it was not just their flight that was zippy - their call is a short and buzzy "ziiiiiip-ziiiiiip-ziiiiiip" - they were REALLY zippy birds.

An Eastern Phoebe stood resolute on a branch waiting for a fly (the buzziest dish in the world) to fly (as its name suggests) by it's branch. Occasionally we would find a Veery moving through its woodland domain. A smart looking White-Breasted Nuthatch clambered smoothly down a tree trunk while what we think were Common Ravens croaked occasionally in the distance.

A beaver slid smoothly to its lodge in the middle of one of the ponds - it was very close to its dam which presumably created the pond. Our trek looped back to the meadow where we saw the swallows (in fact the swallows were still there) but now they were joined by a female Wild Turkey - it stared at us for a little while before it walked off.

We found a Chipping Sparrow feeding in the grass at the entrance. There were also a few Chipmunks throughout the walk.

Our vacation was over. We got into the car drove home.