Revised 2011 bird total:
437 species

Monday, May 30, 2011

New Splits - Common Gallinule question

Just yesterday the ABA (American Birding Association) came out with their new 'splits'.  Every so often ABA splits birds that were once considered one species and with studies they've done now believe to be 2 different species.

One that has been 'split' this time, and the only one that would effect my year list is Common Moorhen.  This bird, previously called Common Moorhen, which was considered the same species as the Moorhen in Europe is now considered a totally different species, the Common Gallinule.  I have already seen this "Common (now Gallinule, previously Moorhen)" in two different places, Florida and Ohio, both when this was still considered Common Moorhen.  Now that it has been split, if any of you followers of mine know the answer, please comment and let me know.  The question is: what does this do to my year list?  Do I simply re name it on my list even though when I saw it it was considered Moorhen not Gallinule?  Do I just keep it as Moorhen on my list, even if I see it again while it's called Gallinule because I first saw it while it was called Moorhen?  Do I keep it as Moorhen on my list for now but if I see it again then change the name on my list to Gallinule?  Do I delete it off my list for now but if I see it again, put it back on as Common Gallinule but if I don't see it again don't count it at all?  Do I keep it as Moorhen now and if I see it again count it as Gallinule as well so then I'm counting it twice but one time with the name C. Moorhen and onetime with the name C. Gallinule?  Do I do something I haven't thought of?

To read more about the splits, go to this link:

Thanks in advance for help with what do with my list,


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chat attempt failed and got my gulls in order

Just a quick update because things have been quiet on the Junior Big Year front lately..

This morning I drove over an hour to an area that is known to be good for Yellow-breasted Chats but after lengthy searching I got skunked.  Beautiful Indigo Buntings there though but not a year bird, very special none the less.  I'll get chat another day.

I've been feeling a little bit sick the last couple of days but within the last 5 hours I've been feeling much better (!!), so I thought about something to do.  "gulls" came into my mind.  I had no clue what gulls I still needed for my year and where I'd get them.  So I pulled out my bird books and looked up the gulls and went through them one by one.  "Great Black-backed - check" "Lesser Black-backed - check" "Herring - check" "Ring-billed - check" "California - check" "Western - check" "Mew - check" "Glaucous-winged - check" "Thayer's - check" among others.  So then I went into "in the areas I'm still going to be, what do I need?" "Glaucous - yes, need it" "Black-legged Kittiwake - yes, need it" "Iceland - yes, need it".  It turns out that I'd really need luck to pull an Iceland or Glaucous but BL Kittiwake is likely in Alaska.  That settles that.  Unless a rare Iceland or Glaucous shows up in Virginia which I'd learn of via the Va-Bird listserv, the only gull I'll still get is Black-legged Kittiwake.  Not great for the number of gulls but it's easy to keep track of!

While I was writing this I heard my papa yell "nighthawks..nighthawks!!" and they're very special so I was all excited and ran outside, there they were, flying fast!!  Second time of the year for Common Nighthawks!

My next 'expected' year bird Chuck Will's Widow on this coming Tuesday.

Until later


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A goatsucker adventure

This morning, first thing, check the news on the Va-Bird listserv.  Has the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher been seen this morning?  No news.  I checked every hour or so.  I kept drawing blanks, no news on the flycatcher.  It had been a 'one day wonder' that I missed.  Had it been one day sooner or one day later I probably would have got it but there was nothing to do but let that bird slip.  Oh well.

This evening, Ken Hinkle was leading a trip for the Rockingham Bird Club which I'm part of to go looking and listening for Whip-Poor-Wills and other goatsuckers (nighthawks and nightjars).  I already had whip on my year list but I wanted to go on the adventure and also hopefully pick up Chuck-Will's-Widdow as that would be a lifer for me.  We headed off and at one of our first stops somebody said "oh look!" and was looking up at the sky.  I looked up.  There was a flock of 8-10 Common Nighthawks circling over head!  I love nighthawks.  It was so special and amazing to watch them for 5 or more minutes.  They're just beautiful.  And it's a year bird!  #302.  We continued on and Ken had a nice pickup truck so for a lot of the way since it was very almost none-used, gravel mountain roads I got to ride in the back of the pickup truck and go "birding from the back".  Soon we began to hear Whip-Poor-Wills and I got a brief look at one.  I love their song!  And we stopped at a Chuck-Will's-Widdow location but no luck in the time we were there.  Thanks to the Shanks who own the land that the chucks are on, we can go back and get the bird another day.  It was a really fun, fun outing and I came back with one more bird on my list.  Just awesome!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Willow Flycatcher, eyes on a Scissor and Dismal Swamp no

Lots of news.

One of my highly wanted birds was Willow Flycatcher.  The Augusta Bird Club that I'm part of has an active facebook group and I asked where to find Willow Flycatcher in the county.  A nice birder from the area, Andrew Clem said that they were fairly common along Bells Lane, a location just 20 minutes from where I live.  I went there this afternoon and after not much time I heard it, "Fitz Bew" "Fitz Bew".  After another couple of minutes I spotted it.  Willow Flycatcher on the board -- a life bird for me and year bird 301!

Another piece of news is I got my "eyes on a Scissor".  A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, rare for the east coast (other than Florida in the winter, but I missed it there) was seen by several birders about 2 hours away from here today.  First spotted at 8:30 am it was still there at 6 pm.  If it's around tomorrow, I'm Scissor-tailed bound!  Also tomorrow is a trip for Whip-poor-will's and a good chance for Chuck-will's-widdows in the evening.  Chuck is a lifer I still need!  All so exciting!

Also, Dismal Swamp is a no.  My mom just got back from Canada and she's getting a book off to the printer and it's taking all too much time to yet fit a 3 day trip into the Dismal Swamp and Piney Grove Preserve for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers.  So I'm giving up Red-cockaded Woodpecker.  There's still a chance I can get Swainson's Warbler in southwestern Virginia, or more likely West Virginia.  Oh well.  I can't do everything and it's not worth busting to the full endless possibilities while home this week to go on the weekend.


Slowing Down after 300

You all may notice that I'm not posting as much as I used to.  My new birds aren't coming in as easy as they were before.

The first half of the year, even without the "big trips" I was still getting big numbers of new birds migrating into my home area and now that the migration is slowing down, I've basically picked up all of the eastern warblers and most of the other birds.  And this shows, I got 300 in less than half a year, and now 75 more is what I expect in the rest of the year.  That's part of the fun though!  It makes every new bird so much more exciting!

I'm down to four "easy" non warbler visitors in my home area: Summer Tanager, Common Nighthawk, Chuck-Will's-Widdow, and Willow Flycatcher.  They will take some work, especially the first and forth on the list, but I will get them.  Other birds too, but those are the most easy.  I'm also down to only seven eastern warblers that I don't have: Golden-winged, Blue-winged, Kirtland's, Swainson's, Connecticut, Mourning, and Yellow-breasted Chat.  Kirtland's is out of the picture.  There's nearly no chance I'm making it to Michigan and where else am I going to see a Kirtland's?  If I were going to see a Kirtland's this year, it would have been at Magee and none have been seen there this year.  Swainson's, not too tough.  Somewhat, but I'm likely going to make it to the Great Dismal Swamp where I'll be able to fairly easily pick up Swainson's.  Golden-winged and Chat, they're the easiest, it's very likely I'll be able to pick both of them up around home without a problem.  Blue-winged, Mourning, and Connecticut, they're purely hit or miss.  If one shows up in the area, I'll try to chase it.  But it's pure luck.  More than Blue-wing was at someplace just an hour away a couple of days ago but has not since been reported.  A Mourning was at a park just 40 minutes away about a week ago and spent a couple of days but by the time I could get out it was gone.  Connecticuts are the hardest and are PURELY hit or miss.  My biggest numbers will come on the big trips by far.  Ontario, Alaska, and Arizona as well as smaller trips will bring me the big numbers and that's what will get me to 375!

Just an update.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

300 and Matt Stenger!

My oh my, the last few days have been very great!

First of all, on Wednesday the 18th I hit a major milestone for my big year..300 birds!  I went to Shenandoah National Park, in hopes of finding birds and bears.  First thing of note that day was coming upon one of my favorite old buck that my friend and I call Ol' Rutter.  Last winter after the rut (mating season for deer), Ol' Rutter wasn't looking too good, thinned out, limping and had a punctured eye.  He made a rebound though and became the strong, healthy buck he usually is.  But this one day (Wednesday May 18th) Ol' Rutter wasn't looking good, he was pretty thinned out, limping and couldn't keep up with his companion buck.  Poor Ol' Rutter.  But then we went on to Pocosin Cabin, one of the very best birding places in Shenandoah National Park.  I heard that Least Flycatchers can sometimes be seen at the parking lot there and that was a lifer that I still needed.  I did the walk and checked the parking lot before I headed on the walk, but no Least Flycatchers.  After the walk which yielded Blackpoll and other warblers, I thought I heard a Least at the parking lot.  It did it again.  I followed the sound to the bird. There it was, a LEAST FLYCATCHER!!!!!!!!  So exciting.  I reached 300 birds for 2011.  What a thing!  Only 75 more to go and I would reach my goal..   Just amazing.  And what a beautiful flycatcher and it has an interesting call.  So special.

The following day my mom received an email from Matt Stenger, who is doing a big year this year.  Matt said that he was going to be traveling through Virginia on his way to the Dismal Swamp to look for Swainson's Warbler.  We offered Matt to stay Thursday night.  He took us up on that offer, came on Thursday night, we had dinner on our porch and hung out together before going to sleep.  The next day (yesterday) we took Matt exploring the mountains of western Virginia in hopes of finding Red Crossbill which would be a lifer for Matt.  Unfortunately and surprisingly even though we tried 3 spots we missed Red Crossbill.  We got a verity of warblers including Blackburnian, and had a great flyover adult Bald Eagle.  What fun to bird and hang out with Matt!  This morning Matt headed off to the Dismal Swamp and I wished him a fun time and good luck finding the warbler and he went on his way.  It was totally great to have him here!  Check out Matt's big year blog:
Me (left) birding with Matt Stenger!

On another note, I may be going to the Dismal Swamp for Swainson's Warbler this weekend and also getting Red-cockaded Woodpecker!   The VSO (Virginia Society of Ornithology) is leading a trip to Piney Grove Preserve and will get Red-cockaded Woodpecker on Saturday, the 28th.  After that trip we would go on to the swamp.  My mom says 50-65 percent she can do it for me so not for sure but very likely!  Thanks mama!

What a great few days.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Edging up to 300

My oh my, only 76 more to go for my total number of species goal at year's end!  My goal is 375 and right now I'm at 299!

So what was my 299th?  Yesterday morning when checking my emails I got notified of an important, hard-to get year bird: Dickcissel.  A male Dickcissel had been reported in southern Albemarle County, about 90 minutes from my home.  Only 90 minutes away was this midwestern rascal!  I headed out to the location within a few hours, with high hopes of finding the Dickcissel.  I arrived at the location, searched around and found some good birds..Grasshopper and Savannah Sparrows, among others.  Then my mom pointed out a bird down the way.  I got my spotting scope on it and heard it sing.  Dickcissel!   My second one ever and a year bird..# 299!

My year is shaping up greatly!


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weekend with the VSO

This past weekend, Friday May 13th through Sunday May 15th has been the VSO's (Virginia Society of Ornithology) annual meeting/conference.  One of the clubs I'm part of, the Rockingham Bird Club hosted the conference this year.  Friday was a registration and business meeting day.  Two of my birding friends from the area, Diane Lepkowski and Greg Moyers gave an excellent presentation with many great photos that both Greg and Diane took plus maps of all the field trip locations (field trips Saturday and Sunday) and the likely birds, length of trips, etc.  Awesome job Diane and Greg, thanks!

Many different field trips were offered Saturday and Sunday (today) mornings.  We (my mom and I) were able to pick two trips, one Saturday and one Sunday.

On Saturday, we had to wake up at an early 5:30 am for the field trip departing at 7.  My tummy wasn't feeling too right and I was REALLY tired.  I had a bit of a rough time for a minute, but after that cleared up I was able to really, really enjoy an awesome field trip to the Bother Knob Area, in the mountains of Western Rockingham County.  Our main target bird was Red Crossbill, because several have been seen since January in that area, at one parking area.  Upon arrival at the crossbill location, no crossbills were seen.  We stayed in our cars, my mom and I were riding with William Leigh, the trip leader and a nice man from Wild Virginia.  William and I had the windows rolled down to listen out for the crossbills.  After a few minutes William thought he heard them.  Just a few seconds later I called out "birds, two crossbills in that tree!".  Two more joined them.  We all enjoyed great looks at these Red Crossbills, as they ate, rested, and graveled.  A lifer for me!  That was such a delight.  Another bird I wanted on this trip, another one that would be a lifer for me was Worm-eating Warbler.  Several times we thought we heard a "worm" but it turned out to be the common Chipping Sparrow.  Driving down the mountain William said something like "oh, I think that's a worm singing over there".  We all got out excitedly and after pishing, using trip participant Brenda Tekin's bird IPAD app and used the call of the singing worm, we finally attracted the Worm-eating Warbler in, and I was rewarded with some nice looks and a new life bird.  Thanks William and thanks for the app Brenda!

I was 'dog tired' last night and it would have meant a 6:15 am wakeup to do my planned trip this morning, to Switzer Dam.  I couldn't do it.  My participation on the morning field trip was canceled.  I needed to sleep inn.  I woke up before 9:00 am and I realized "well, Madison Run is only a 20 minute drive from here, a birding location, and a field trip departed from Harrisonburg for the VSO there at 7:45 am and it would take them at least a half hour to get there, we could go now and do a lot of the walk at Madison Run with them".  We got there and got to bird with the group who had recently arrived for the remainder of their walk.  We saw some great birds including a Bay-breasted Warbler and I had heard that this location would be good for Acadian Flycatchers which was a life bird I still need.  After a while of birding, the leader Bill Benish, heard what he thought was an Acadian.  After tracking down the bird we got good looks and heard the bird and confirmed it to be an Acadian Flycatcher.  Lifer and year bird # 298 for me!

I give great thanks to everybody who has made this VSO Conference a great success, and my biggest thanks goes out to the following people: Diane Lepkowski for helping with the Friday Night program and helping with the field trips amazingly.  Awesome selection of trips, Diane!, Kay Gibson the president of the Rockingham Bird Club for helping to host this event!, the President of the VSO for charing such an awesome organization (sorry, in the moment I can't remember your name), and everybody else: the field trip leaders, the Holiday Inn staff for providing a meeting place for the conference, the registration people, and everybody else for making this event a big success!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The great Ohio adventure

Black-bellied Plovers along with American Golden Plovers were the shorebirds that graced the fields in Ohio.  Golden plover was a lifer for me and Black-bellied Plover was a year bird.  A Black-bellied is pictured here.

Last night in Maysville Kentucky I gave a quick, really quick post about my Ohio trip.  Some of you may say "what?  that's a normal sized post for Gabriel!, not really quick".  But it really was really quick.  I did it in a few minutes at a public computer at a Super 8 Motel at 10 at night and only covered a little bit of the Ohio trip in brief notes.

Friday, May 6 I set off headed northwest with my awesome dad to Ohio, northern Ohio and more specifically, the Magee Marsh and surrounding areas.  The target was warblers.  This was my warbler trip, but even more so my birthday trip, I was turning 12 on Sunday May 8th. Without warblers my year list would be very non-complete.  I needed a great warbler trip. And this was it.  Yes, the warblers were awesome, but I also got many year birds in the thrush, vireo, waterbird, and shorebird category as well as great views and encounters with raptors.  It was a bird trip, as all trips for birding are.

Friday was simply a travel day, but adventures did occur.  Our GPS ("Josephine" we've nicknamed it) took us on an adventure.  Our original route was via I-81 North, then some backroads through Berkley Springs West Virginia and then straight west on the Penn. Turnpike and then the Ohio Turnpike to Magee Marsh with one night in Penn.  We simply missed one exit on the turn to Berkley Springs WV and Josephine took us on a MAJOR re route via Hagerstown Maryland.  Do we turn around or do we trust the GPS?  We were in for an adventure, and heck, maybe I'd pick up some birds on the way.  We went via Hagerstown.  No birds that day, not unusual ones anyway.  Of course we saw birds, starlings, pigeons, House Sparrows, a few common hawks too, but nothing out of the ordinary.  Late in the day, once well in to Penn. we did stop at a nice "McDonald's Picnic Table Wetland" where I picked up my first warbler of the trip, a female Yellow.

The next day, Saturday we arrived at Magee Marsh but before hand birded at a few different spots in Ohio on the way.  We stopped at a very nice riverside park somewhere along the way where I got the first year bird of the trip, Northern Waterthrush.  They turned out to be a fairly common warbler at Magee Marsh but before this day I had never seen one, not ever in this lifetime so it was completely exciting.  Many other familiar birds there too, but exciting because they were new for my "Ohio list".  After the park along the way, in a roadside habitat, I spotted a Ring-necked Pheasent, a new year bird.  We then went to a bayside park near Port Clinton where I added two new life birds, Kentucky Warbler and Nashville Warbler which both gave extraordinary looks.  The excitement was full on now!  Arriving at Magee Marsh, it was incredible, and apparently this was not even a great day.  Myrtle Yellow-rumps, Palm Warblers, Black-throated Greens were everywhere.  Every five minutes or more often a new species would appear for the trip and all the birders on the boardwalk would help me out.  "Cape May male two thirds of the way up this tree on a right hand branch", "Prothonotary singing in the low grasses over here", "Blackburnian male at Number 3, just down that way", "this is a good area in the last few minutes, have has the regulars plus a Chestnut and a Blackburnian".  I was getting these kinds of quotes from many different birders.  And I'd be asking "what do you see?" or "what are you photographing?" and their answer could be anything from a Yellow-rump to a Woodcock.  In the first 10 or 15 minutes at Magee I didn't see any year birds, but that soon changed.  My first year bird there was a Black-throated Blue Warbler male that gave nice looks.  Also amazing about this place is that some of the warblers are just a foot or two away.  Magnolia Warbler was my first lifer at Magee.  After searching with many great birds, I came across a "hot spot".   My dad spotted a "what's that?" flying (he's not a great birder, but he's getting better every day and he's an AWESOME papa) and I said "a cuckoo, Yellow-billed Cuckoo!".  That was a lifer for me.  While trying to get other birders on the YB Cuckoo, they said "all I see is a pair of Black-billed Cuckoos".  As it turns out, they were looking in a different place and did have a pair of BB Cuckoos so that was another lifer for me.  Then, although not a year bird, we saw an Eastern Screech-Owl, very special to see.  By the time we were done at Magee for the day, and done at nearby Ottawa Nat. Refuge for the day, we did a bird count and noticed I was already at 88 species for the day and still had three hours of daylight!  If I wanted to, I could go for an

Ohio Big Day and hopefully get over 100 species!  So the focus became chasing day birds and the next logical place to go was nearby Metzger Marsh, the last of the main area hotspots I had not been to.  On the way, I picked up American Kestrel and House Finch.  Northern Shoveler was on a pond at the entrance to Metzger.  "Swamp Sparrow, Hooded Merganser" I was calling them to my dad because he was writing them down for me.  "Pair of swans over there, Trumpeters".  I assumed they were Trumpeters because we had seen several earlier in the day and they apparently are common there, but getting the BINS on the bird, they were Mutes.  So I called to my dad "write down Mute Swan".  We had met an avid birder at Ottawa who said that she discovered a Tricolored Heron at Metzger 10 days beforehand and that it was still around.  With ease we found the heron at Metzger along with a special Beaver nearby.  We arrived at the end of the road at Metzger and there were some birders "warbling" in the woods.  I asked them which they had seen.  They named the ones I already had for the day "Blackburnian, Black-And-White, Magnolia, Yellow-rumped, Palm, Orange-crowned".  There, he said Orange-crowned.  That was a well wanted day bird.  He said he hadn't seen it in half an hour though.  Just two minutes later a different guy was waving me and I said "what is it?".  He replied "the Orange-crowned is in the scope".  I looked at it, told my dad to put it on the list, thanked the guys for getting it for me, and I went along the water's edge nearby looking for gulls, terns, and other waterbirds.  The same group of people moved to the water are too and started asking if I had the birds they had.  "Cormorant?" "yup, I got it", "Ruddy Duck?" "yup", "Redhead duck?" "no.  Where!?".  "right in the scope".  I thanked them again and went on my way.  I asked them about Chickadee and Titmouse because I didn't have either of those.  They didn't know for chickadees, they said they're kind of tough in this area but they did say that a titmouse had been visiting the feeders at Magee earlier today and I didn't check the feeders when I was there.  I rushed over to the Magee feeders, got Brown-headed Cowbird new for the day, no titmouse but I picked up a Black-capped Chickadee, one of my favorite birds.  I had heard that a Marbled Godwit had been seen at an Icecream Shop a few miles up the road.  We scooted over there.  No godwit, but a beautiful, amazing pair of Bald Eagles was in a tree right near the Icecream Shop, a special blessing on the eve of my birthday and a new day bird.  A Sora was in the marsh there, day bird 100.  I had reached my goal but was going for more!  We took some backroads on the way home and came up with three more day birds: Northern Harrier, Brown Thrasher, and Horned Lark.  At somepoint in the day I saw a Great Black-backed Gull which was a year bird.  I finished the day with 103 species, a total amazing success for my last day of 11!

My birthday was awesome too and the birds were on the Magee boardwalk in the morning.   I got few non-life year birds that day but a good number of lifers.  About a half hour in to the board walk, somebody said "Wilson's over here, low".  I got good looks at the beautiful warbler, my first lifer of the day!  Then, a Common Tern flew above Lake Erie and was another life bird, one I've been wanting for a long time.  A Warbling Vireo was in the trees at the Magee Parking lot, another lifer.  As I was getting ready to enter the boardwalk again, somebody said "Blue Grosbeak on the beach over there".  We walked over to the beach, and sure enough with 200 people looking at the bird, I got good looks at the male bird, a lifer for me!  A nice birthday treat.  On that round on the boardwalk, I picked up one lifer, a Bay-breasted Warbler.  At 3 pm there was a guided shorebird trip out of Ottawa Refuge for 2 hours that I went on.  At the different trips, I got the following year birds: Dunlin, Semiplamated Sandpiper (lifer), Black-bellied Plover, American Golden Plover (lifer).  I've been wanting golden plover for a long time.  That evening I got to have the chance to meet, talk with, hear speak, and get my Kaufman Field Guide autographed by one of my most favorite, and most respected birders: Kenn Kaufman.  It was a great pleasure to talk with Kenn and his wife Kimberly, what nice people and amazing birders.  Kenn gave an amazing, interesting, and funny talk on Bird Migration Patterns.  Thanks Kenn!

Monday was a bit slower for the year birds, only four but still a very, very special day.  Started out on the Magee Boardwalk where I got Yellow-throated Vireo and Tennessee Warbler as lifers.  I went to one of the spots I was at on the shorebird trip the prior day, met my listserv "friends" from Virginia, John and BJ Little and got Semipalmated Plover as a year bird.  Back at Magee, I got Wood Thrush for a year bird, one that I should have had before that.  Also that dad, during a windy spell my dad and I took a nice walk at Ottawa Nat. Wildlife Refuge and had many great encounters with Canada Goose goslings.  On the drive to the hotel that dusk, we saw a Great Horned Owl.

And now good old Tuesday, one of the, if not the most amazing day of the trip.  Since we had to leave that afternoon, the day was set fully to the Magee Boardwalk.  The warblers were everywhere that morning and it was considered a small fallout by the local birders.  I got up close views of many warblers. I got to see my first Blackpoll Warbler of the trip, my favorite of the warblers.  Philadelphia Vireo was an awesome life bird and gave nice looks.  After completing a loop on the boardwalk with my dad, ate lunch, and while my dad cleaned up and napped, I headed back to do the boardwalk by myself one last time.  In the parking lot I saw a well wanted lifer, Swainson's Thrush.  Beautiful bird.  Right as I entered the boardwalk the second time, a nice, familiar-looking gentleman walked up to me and said "are you Gabriel?".  "Yes I am, how do you know?" I responded.  "well, I did a big year last year in the lower 48 states" the man said.  "oh, so you saw me on the NARBA website, I see.  And you did a lower 48 states big year last year.  Wow.  So you must be Chris Hitt?" I said.  "Yes, I am" Chris said.  I began to talk with him because I've seen his blog ( and have always wanted to meet him!  He said that he wanted to talk to me about the Garganey because he has some news about it and he asked around to try to find me and he was glad to find me.  Soon he talked about the Garganey I talked about in previous posts in my blog and said things like "you know, the Garganey is a real bird.  I saw it and it's been seen this morning.  It's really worth going for."  Shocked that it's not a domestic bird I responded "wow.  So it's not a domestic bird.. how do you know?"  I can't remember his response in great detail but the bottom line was that the records committee had seen it and they felt confident it was a wild bird.  I said "ok, well we have to go home today and my dad has to get back to work but gosh I'd love to go see the Garganey".  Chris was joined by his friend Dan Sanders and Dan agreed if it all possible it's really worth while me going to try for the bird.  Chris said "you got to go talk to your dad, you've got to convince him to take you, who knows when the next Garganey will show up, and you can tell your dad that one of Ohio's top birders said that you have to go for the bird".  I thanked Chris and Dan and ran off to the car, but my dad was already asleep napping so I couldn't talk to him.  So I went back to do more birding on the boardwalk, saw Chris and Dan again, birded with them for a bit and then went on my way to find dad and do a bit of last birding at Magee.  Once I got to my dad, he took a few minutes to think about it but he said that between the rareness of the bird, what happened with Chris, and it being my birthday trip on my big year we had to go for it.  AWESOME news, THANKS so much Papa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Soon we were on our south on I-75 (I think that's the number) and at 7:15 pm we rolled into Fernfield Preserve and hopes were high that the Garganey would be at the pond by the Visitor Center, where it has been seen for the last few days.  There were several birders there, and they gave us the rejoicing news that the Garganey was there.  It was hanging out with a pair of BW Teal and we got great photos, and some low quality photos of this amazing, beautiful, and super special duck over the course of 30 minutes before we continued on our way to our hotel where we spent the night in Maysville Kentucky and then arrived home here in Virginia at about 5:15 or 5:30 pm tonight.  What a special day and super amazing trip.  The trip total was 145 species and the year total now is 295 species.

Garganey, a mega vagrant, a lifer for me and year bird # 295.  Such a special bird.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ohio overview

So much for me posting on my trip.  The Super 8 Motel in northern Ohio where I stayed for my Ohio trip was a notch below most Super 8s, the bed was bouncy, no birding in the parking lot (concrete, that's it!), no public computer, noisy, to name the major things.

I'm now in Maysville Kentucky on my way home at a Super 8 that's a notch above most -- very nice.  It's 10 pm and I don't have time to give a major post about the Ohio trip but I'll give a quick overview and post in detail tomorrow.

Awesome.  Amazing.  Terrific.  Better than I thought.  These are the things to describe the trip.  I ended up with about 25 year birds including over 10 lifers.  I saw warblers thrushes vireos and so much else   Today i met up with chris hitt and dan (sorry dan  i cant remember youre last name  sanders i think?) and they told me about the garganey i had talked about in my previous posts  they had seen it and it turns out it is a wild bird  I was going back today, and it would take 4 extra hours to detour for the garganey.  I talked to my dad, and he said we could make the trip (THANKS papa, you're the best!) and I got the bird this evening without any difficulty.  Amazing bird, so beautiful and super special.  Thanks for letting me know Chris and Dan!

I will post more tomorrow and will talk about the trip in much greater detail and post photos.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Off today and Garganey no

In my previous post, I mentioned a Garganey that I may get.  After much help from Ohio birders (thanks everybody!!), one post revealed that it may be a domestic bird in which case it would not be a countable bird for my big year and the place the Garganey is is way out of my way so I'm not going for that bird.

I'm heading out for Magee Marsh Ohio for WARBLERS and others today plan to spend 5 days birding.  Super exciting!

I don't know how much I'll be able to blog on my trip but I'll update as frequently as possible.

Until later,


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Off in a couple of days and Garganey as a possibility!

In just a couple of days now I'm headed off on my forth 'big trip' of the year and I head to Ohio with my dad for my 12th birthday, mainly to Magee Marsh for warblers galore but if a mega rarity duck: Garganey that is currently near Cincinatti Ohio stays around, we will detour to pick him up on the way to the marsh.

This was just a quick update to tell you my plans.

Until later,


Monday, May 2, 2011

Another migrant..another year bird!

While birding with my friend Vic Laubach on the Blue Ridge Parkway where he got me Cerulean Warbler a week or so ago, he said that each spring he gets Cape May Warblers in his yard and that I could come and get them if they showed up this year.  Yesterday evening I was delighted to get the email that at least one Cape May was in his yard.  I headed out this morning in hopes.  After 20 or 30 minutes of searching, I heard it's call in the top of some coniferous trees.  I searched around and pished and there it was, a beautiful Cape May Warbler - year bird # 270 and a lifer for me!  Thanks so much Vic!


Bobolink, Veery, and Chestnut-sided on the year list!

My oh my - it has been a long time since I've posted on this blog!  WOW!  Time to catch up on the last number of days...

Thursday (April 28) I headed to camp for one night at Shenandoah National Park and hoped to find birds and bears (hmm..can you tell from my posts that I like bears too?  Ha ha)  Just a few minutes into the drive on the way to the park, I spotted 15 dark birds..with a white rump area..and yellow-orange crown.  Bobolinks!  Yes indeed, they were Bobolinks all right and I got some awesome looks.  That brought my year total to 267.  This boded well for the trip.  That night we encountered a mother bear with three cubs along Skyline Drive and the next morning they were in the exact same spot.  Amazing.  While on the way to look for them on the Friday morning I came across a location that was chock full of birds!   Juncos, Redstarts, Hoodeds, Red-eyed Vireos, Robins, Cowbirds, a Parula, just to name a few.  Such a special experience.  All of those were already well placed on my year list.  There just had to be a year bird mixed in with all of this excitement.  Yes indeed, there it was, a thrush.  But what kind?  Swainson's?  No, out of season.  Wood?  No, too dull.  Gray-cheeked?  No, too 'washed out' of a chest.  Veery?  Yes, perfect match to the "Veery in the book", indeed it was, bringing my year total to 268!   Then we went to a certain trail called Limberlost and we met a birder couple there and they kindly let me walk with them.  Thanks Jane and Bill!  Along the way I picked up Chestnut-sided Warbler, a life bird for me and year bird 269!  Awesome walk.

Until later