My Bird Blog: A blog about my birding discoveries, bird feeders, birds on my life lists, and all things bird related

Chirps and Cheeps Bird Blog

A Birder's Blog About Birding in Western New York

Great Cormorant on Irondequoit Bay

Published January 03, 2018
Tags: General Observations, great cormorant, double-crested cormorant, great black-backed gull, fish crow

Today, Celeste and I took a drive out to Irondequoit Bay where a regional rarity was found by Brian Morse.  Brian found a Great Cormorant at the Newport Marina on Dec. 31st!  What a great find!

It was still bitter cold this morning but we managed to endure the stiff winds long enough to grab a few photos of this large cormorant.  There were a few Double-crested Cormorants nearby, along with a few ducks and gulls.  The open water has been freezing little by little and I don't imagine this cormorant will want to stay much longer.  Hurry if you want to see this guy!

After Newport Marina, we headed on to a few other Rochester hotspots, adding a few new year birds to our lists.  I think, besides a dark Snowy Owl, a Fish Crow was the day's favorite.  Not only did we get to hear their call but one flew right overhead!

Out on Church Road, we saw all 3 field birds in a large flock: Snow Buntings, Horned Larks, and Lapland Longspurs.  Unfortunately, they were too far out for photos.

All in all, it was a very good day!
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Great Cormorant to the right of Double-crested Cormorants
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Great Cormorant
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Mute Swans
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Fish Crow
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Great Black-backed Gull coming in for a landing


BOS Trip to Buckhorn

Published January 01, 2018
Tags: Parks and Preserves, merlin, tundra swan, rusty blackbird, wild turkey, eastern screech-owl

Happy 2018 to all!

Today, on New Year's Day, the Buffalo Ornithological Society (BOS) held a field trip for all those "crazy birders" who wanted to get a jump start on their 2018 birding lists.  I am fully credentialed as one of those "crazies", so of course, I went!

With Shelley in tow, I headed the car up to Buckhorn Island SP where round 2 of the field trip was happening.  Shelley and I opted out of round 1, the Goat Island part, because of the frigid temps.  Word had it we made the right decision! 

Since we arrived a little early, we drove around looking for a reported Northern Shrike.  We didn't have any luck with that bird, however, we did find a trio of Wild Turkeys roosting in trees close to the park.  That was a nice start to our lists! 

When we pulled into the parking area at Buckhorn, Chris Kundl, the field trip leader, had handed over the leader's reigns to Alec Humann who has a great affinity to Buckhorn.  Alec showed us some of his favorite "hot spots" in the state park, starting with the feeding station he has set up at the Wood Creek parking area.  Our party of eighteen was treated to eleven Rusty Blackbirds and many American Tree Sparrows.  A good mix of White-throated Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Northern Cardinals, and other songbirds were present as well.

My two favorite treats of the day were a perched Merlin and a red morph Eastern Screech-Owl.

I think the Merlin tolerated our group so well because of the icy cold temperatures.  Rather than waste the energy to find a new hunting spot, the falcon stayed perched while we camera enthusiasts rapid-fired like frenzied pavarazzi.  That Merlin is probably the most photographed Merlin in Western New York now!  In the midst of all the shutter clicks, a Belted Kingfisher announced itself with its loud rattle call.  It flew in and perched right above the Merlin.  One look at that raptor and the kingfisher quickly changed locations!

The bright sunshine made for a beautiful day in spite of the cold - and we all added several songbirds, ducks, and a pair of Tundra Swans to our lists as we walked along.  A Northern Harrier was a nice sight to see as it hunted over the cattail island.  And we all thought we had a beautiful, male Canvasback to add to our lists until Celeste astutely pointed out that the duck was rather large and rather "stiff".  Sure enough, that bird was a wooden decoy!  We all thanked Celeste for pointing out our error as we begrudgingly removed the duck from our checklists.

Back at our cars, the mobbing sounds of Blue Jays along with one very excited White-breasted Nuthatch reached our ears.  Tracking down the source of the frantic birds, we discovered a beautiful red (or rufous) morph Eastern Screech-Owl high up in a tree cavity.  Of course another photo session ensued as we excited birders adored this gorgeous little owl with our cameras.

All in all, it was an exhilarating first day of 2018!  Many thanks to Chris Kundl and Alec Humann for leading our fun field trip!
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Wild Turkey
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Rusty Blackbird
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Merlin perched - notice the blood stain on its belly. She's had a recent, successful hunt!
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Merlin taking a short flight
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Tundra Swans
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Red morph Eastern Screech-Owl


Inca Dove - a NYS 1st Record

Published December 08, 2017
Tags: General Observations, Inca Dove

A Chautauqua County birder, Tom, reported to the BOS that an Inca Dove was coming to his feeders.  This southwestern bird has never been documented in New York State before!  What was it doing here and what conditions brought it?!  And incredibly, it chose the home of a birder, otherwise, it might never have been noticed!

Unfortunately, Tom didn't want the sighting to leak out to the rest of the birding community, knowing well what a stir it would cause.  Birders from all over the state, let alone PA and OH would flock to the small, quiet neighborhood and he didn't want to risk his neighbor's yards, lawns, and good relations.  We felt very fortunate to be allowed to observe this mega rarity.

The Inca Dove is a small and petite dove and has a rather scaly pattern on its back - it's really quite neat looking.  And when this dove flies, a bright, rufous coloring can be seen on the underside of its primary wings which is quite striking.  I had seen my life Inca Dove when I went to Arizona last year but seeing it in New York would be a big thrill.

When our small group of three arrived at Tom's house, we learned that the bird had been seen early in the morning.  We were quite anxious to observe it and were ready to wait it out - however long it might take!  About an hour and a half later, it finally came back to Tom's feeders along with an array of other feeder birds.  Strangely, there were no Mourning Doves in its company.

The celebrity seemed quite comfortable foraging on the ground and we took many shots of it through the double-glass windows.  (You'll notice the compromised quality of the photos because of this - but we didn't want to risk flushing it by going outside.)  After awhile, the pale dove nestled under some pines and took a nap.  We waited - and waited - watching it breathe.  When it woke, it flew over to another row of pines, giving us the first view of its beautiful, rufous underwings.  We were delighted!  Very cool!  I got one, blurry photo of that when it flexed a bit while sitting on a branch after it landed.  Soon after that, the dove buried itself deeper into a pine tree and it was then that we left, giving our profuse thanks to Tom, our hero!
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Inca Dove under the feeders
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Inca Dove
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A little better view...
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Back under the feeders
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Here you see the (blurry) rufous underwings
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Sleeping...