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

Lark Sparrow and Snowy Owl in Hamlin

Published November 16, 2014
Tags: General Observations, Lark Sparrow, Snowy Owl

A Lark Sparrow was found by Brad Carlson up at Hamlin Beach today. I've only seen a Lark Sparrow one other time (A Lark Sparrow in Fort Erie), which was in Fort Erie and very close to being exactly a year ago by about 10 days.  This must be the time of year they're on the move.

Celeste and I went up to Hamlin Beach to see if we could find this rare occurrence and, as luck would have it, we found a group of American Tree Sparrows that it was hanging around with.  The sparrow was very cooperative, giving great views to Celeste, Chris Stanger, and I.

After the group of sparrows flew off a little further down the beach, we heard a Snowy Owl was found by Kim Sucy not too far away in Kendall.  We easily found the owl and enjoyed this very white bird for a little while before heading to Point Breeze.

At Point Breeze, we were given great looks by some Horned Grebes and Red-breasted Mergansers. A Glaucous gull was sitting on the pier with some Ring-billeds and Great Black-backed Gulls - and a little further out, a Red-throated Loon was drifting near the beach on the west side.  It seemed a little too dim for photos by this late point in the day, but now I wish I had taken a few of the Horned Grebes, loon, and the Glaucous Gull...

For a gray and cold November day, there was lots to see!
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Lark Sparrow
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Lark Sparrow
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Lark Sparrow
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Lark Sparrow
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Snowy Owl
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Snowy Owl


Cattle Egret in Hamlin

Published November 10, 2014
Tags: General Observations, Cattle Egret

Today, I finally caught up with a Cattle Egret!  I've tried hard for this bird this year. A big thanks to Dave Tetlow who found this one up in Hamlin, and also to Steve Taylor who re-found it the next day and reported it right away. As it turned out, this bird was found just around the corner from where I've looked several times this past month!

Right around noon, Celeste and I arrived at the farm where the egret had been seen. Celeste quickly had her eyes on it and soon, I did too. The Cattle Egret is surprisingly small but its brilliant white coloring made it stand right out from the pasture's greenery. The egret had attached itself to one of the cows and it was acting like it was its new best friend.  Where the cow went, the egret went.  I was nervous for the safety of this little guy as it went under the cow and in-between its massive legs. Fortunately, the egret's quick, darting moves allowed it to dodge the large beast's slow, plodding steps.  Still... one has to wonder about the Cattle Egret's mortality rate out in the farm fields.

You may already know that the Cattle Egret seeks pastures with cattle or horses because it feeds on the insects that the large animals stir up while grazing.  It's quite an interesting relationship. The birds have also been known to ride on the backs of the cattle!  I haven't seen this yet, but I sure hope to one day.  Other than its yellow bill, our bird was all white, lacking the peach coloration that is seen in breeding plumage.

Standing near the fence, we were delighted to see the cow slowly moving in our direction. It made us wonder if it might be curious or even hopeful that we had a snack for it or something.  And as it moved closer to us, so did the egret!  I fired off a ton of photos, very thankful for such a wonderful opportunity.

It was a gorgeous day to be outside and I'm pretty sure I smiled all the way home after that rare and close encounter!
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Cattle Egret following a cow around
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Cattle Egret and its new best friend
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Cattle Egret
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Cattle Egret
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Cattle Egret
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Cattle Egret
Reply from: Myrna Allen on 11/15/2014 12:35 PM
 How wonderful for you. You got some great photos too. I wonder if my son in Texas sees the cattle Egret hanging around his horses."


Eared Grebe, American Avocet, and Glossy Ibises at Montezuma NWR

Published November 09, 2014
Tags: General Observations, Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, American Avocet, Glossy Ibis, Greater Yellowlegs, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Eared Grebe

An Eared Grebe, American Avocet, and two Glossy Ibises have been hanging around the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge for the past couple of weeks.  I took the long drive and spent a long time on Wildlife Drive enjoying these beautiful birds.

The Eared Grebe was much easier to find than I was expecting. It was with a group of American Coots when I saw it, diving, as is their habit, often. It was not in breeding plumage, making it a much duller bird than the one I saw at Batavia Wastewater Treatment Plant last year and again this year.

And again, the avocet was so much different in its non-breeding plumage than the few other avocets I've seen.  This female was completely black, white, and gray.  She had no rust coloring at all on her head and neck; that was replaced by a light gray. What a difference! She was still beautiful, though, as she gracefully foraged in one of the ponds amid Canada Geese, a Greater Yellowlegs, 5 Dunlin, and some assorted ducks.  Her long and significantly upturned bill confirmed to me she was, indeed, a female.

A little further along the drive and in the next pond, I finally found one of the Glossy Ibises. Its incomplete white/blue'ish feathering around its bill and eye area confirmed Glossy as opposed to the closely related White-faced Ibis. This bird was a little less cooperative, though, and hung back in the reeds around the perimeter of the pond.  It came into the open only a couple of times but I did get a really nice view as it caught and ate a fish!  That was fun!

Next, I took a drive up East Road to see the Sandhill Cranes. I've heard they are there in significant numbers and they sure WERE!  I counted 52 of them!  What an incredible sight to see them strung along in a very long line periodically crying out their rattle-like calls. Very cool!

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Sandhill Cranes: I don't think I got quite all of them

Other birds seen today were: Northern Shovelers, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Ruddy Duck, Lesser/Greater Scaup, Northern Harrier, Bald Eagle, and quite a few Horned Larks.
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Female American Avocet
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American Avocet
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Glossy Ibis
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You can see why they named it a GLOSSY Ibis
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Glossy Ibis catching a fish
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There's the fish
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Dunlin
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My first sighting of a Redhead this season
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Green-winged Teal (drake)
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American Wigeon (drake)
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Gadwall
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The Eared Grebe with some American Coot and a scaup
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A young Northern Harrier hunting over the marshes
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Northern Harrier (aka Marsh Hawk)
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Juvenile Bald Eagle (severely backlit)
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Horned Lark