Revised 2011 bird total:
437 species

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Red-necked Phalarope adventure, it's number 366!

When I was in Alaska, I went to a pond that was apparently to be full of Red-necked Phalaropes.  Despite my several tries, none.  A couple of days ago, here in Virginia where they're way off course one was reported about an hour from where I live, I went to look and no phalarope.  Did they just like to avoid me? I didn't know.  So today, the third good chance, a phalarope was reported just 30 minutes from my house.  Would I finally get it this time?  We went and looked in high hopes.  As I pulled up, among the Wood Ducks, with my naked eye, I spotted my long-eluded target, the phalarope!  The jury was still out on it's ID when I got there but it was thought to be a Red-necked.  It didn't really matter to me though as Red-necked, Red, or Wilson's would all 3 be lifers for me.  We stayed a while, several other birders were there including some of my friends.  After I left with good photos and a life bird in hand, I headed to Shenandoah National Park where I saw a Black Bear.  When I got home the email came out from one of the area's best birders, the case had been solved, it was a Red-necked Phalarope.  Lifer for me and year bird 366!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

They're coming like crazy, Summer T. new on list!

This morning I attended a bird walk at Ivy Creek Natural Area with the local Monticello Bird Club which I'm part of.  Ivy Creek is on the other side of the Blue Ridge Mountains than what I live on in the city of Charlottesville.  For some reason, although still uncommon Summer Tanagers are present on the Charlottesville side of the mountain but occur only extremely rarely on my side of the mountain.  Because of this I do not have it yet this year.

I really was hoping for a Summer Tanager on the Ivy Creek walk today and soon into the walk I asked leader Peter Brask what the chances were for one today.  He said basically almost no chance as he's never seen one there.  Oh well I thought.  About half way through the walk someone called out a female tanager. Obviously, I assumed a Scarlet Tanager as it's the only common tanager there.  But to my delight, Stauffer Miller one of the if not the most experienced birder on the walk said that it didn't have black wings and he heard it's call and that it was a Summer Tanager!  The female Sum.T gave several nice looks at it perched near the tops of small trees.  Lifer for me and year bird 365!

As I've said before, I'm completely happy with any number between 375 and above for total number of birds at year's end and I'm nearly 100 PERCENT that I'll get over 375 but I'd really love to get 400.  In order to get that, things have to click.  Yes, I'm going to Arizona and if all goes as planned that should be over 25  new birds.  That gets me within arm's reach of 400.  We're going to Chincoteague Virginia and area, that should bag me about 3-5 new birds.  The numbers are inching up. In addition to these 2 trips, unexpected birds are crucial.  Unless everything goes perfect with Arizona and Chincoteague (30+ new birds in Arizona, 5+ in Chincoteague) which is unlikely, I can't reach 400 on these 2 trips alone.  This is where unexpected or hard-to-get birds come into role.  I'm doing amazing with unexpected birds right now. Just since I've been back from Alaska 2 weeks ago I've added 6 new birds(which is totally unbelieveble, thus the title "they're coming like crazy!", 4 of which were unexpected (Mississippi and Swallow-tailed Kites, Baird's and White-rumped Sandpipers), 1 a 50/50 chance I thought I'd get it this year (Summer Tanager), and 1 an important but near-sure bird (Pectoral Sandpiper).    If this trend continues, 400 is a piece of cake.  If few more of these birds come, I'll end up somewhere in the upper 380s or 390s which is TOTALLY AWESOME.

Until 366 or more news.


Friday, September 2, 2011


One of the last birds that I thought that I could fairly easily pick up in my home area this year was the Pectoral Sandpiper.  Yesterday evening, on my way to Harrisonburg, a city about 30 minutes away from here I stopped at Leonard's Pond, a great birding location to look for shorebirds.  I scanned the pond.  Killdeer, Killdeer, Killdeer, Killdeer, Killdeer, Killdeer, Killdeer, Killdeer!  I counted 25.  Then I noticed another bird, a largish sandpiper.  I got my scope on it.  Oh ye baby, that's a Pectoral!  I saw the brown or whatever you call it extending way down the underside.  No question!  I was 100 percent sure but since I have trouble IDing shorebirds I was just a bit like "no other birder saw it, can I be sure?" but I was.  And later I found out that an amazing experienced birder Allen Larner stopped by that pond last evening as well and saw a Pectoral in addition to a few Least Sandpipers which I thought I also I did get my shorebirds ID'd correctly.

Pectoral Sandpiper is year bird 364!