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

Merlin Pair at Birdsong

Published September 18, 2014
Tags: General Observations, Merlin, Cooper's Hawk, Black-throated Green Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Black-and-white Warbler, Hooded Warbler

I've been thinking I should tear myself away from my backyard to check out Bird Song for migrating warblers one of these days. I thought my four year-old grandson might enjoy the outing as well, so I asked him out on a "date" to go on a "bird hunt", as he calls it.

When I picked Alex up, I have to say, he sure looked cute with his sweatshirt, big, rubber boots, his backpack packed full of a water bottle, a granola bar, and his favorite stuffed animal, and then those big ol' binoculars that were way too big for him!  Adorable!

I didn't expect to see much - but I hoped for a few warblers. After all, four-year old boys are not the quiet, birding companions we serious birders seek - but this guy was ENJOYABLE!  His dozens of questions and observations made me smile a thousand times on our two hour walk!

We hadn't gone very far when I noticed a large bird ahead at the top of a dead tree.  I told Al to check it out and try to whisper for a minute while I took a photo.  That lasted a total of a second - and Al happily went back to telling me all about his friend Dominic at school and how he made him laugh by banging a bowl on his head.  Hmmmm....  Note to self: remember to speak with Alex about how to pick your friends.

Remarkably, the bird remained...  We slowly got closer.  The bird stayed.  By this time, I knew it was a female Merlin and I was amazed that she tolerated our presence so well.

I got out the hot chocolate I had packed and Alex was happily distracted for a little while.  And to my delight, the bird stayed; she preened, she puffed, she stretched, she looked around.  And all the while, I was grabbing photos of her.

A Cooper's Hawk flew in to a tree relatively close to the Merlin.  I don't know if it noticed the Merlin or if it was just chance, but it quickly decided to fly out a little further into the marsh.

And wouldn't you know it - a Blue Jacket, (a male Merlin) flew in!  The taiga pair (our eastern, darker merlins) exchanged positions on snags a time or two by flying at one another - almost a little dance or skirmish with one another.  What a treat to see!

By then, the Blue Jays and crows were yelling and it was all rather noisy.  I lost track of the male when a woman and her dog came by and talked to us.  I gave her looks at the female Merlin through my binoculars - and after she left, Al was done with his hot chocolate and ready to move on.

As we continued our walk, I was surprised and happy that we were able to find a few warblers:  Black-and-white, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded, and Black-throated Green.  Black-capped Chickadees were abundant as were American Goldfinches.

What a surprisingly productive walk with my zealous, four-year old grandson!  Me thinks I'll have to take him out more often!  :)
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Female Merlin
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Merlin
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Merlin
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Merlin
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Merlin
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Merlin
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Merlin
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Merlin
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Cooper's Hawk
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Cooper's Hawk
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Black-throated Green Warbler
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Alex: sheer joy and energy!


Red-necked Phalarope

Published September 15, 2014
Tags: General Observations, Red-necked Phalarope, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Black-and-white Warbler, Pine Warbler, Eastern Phoebe

A Red Phalarope was spotted up at Hamlin Beach last weekend by Brad Carlson and Doug Daniels. Apparently, the bird was fairly close to shore - and I was hoping for some nice photos of it.

I couldn't believe I was headed up there again, after having just gotten the jaeger the other day!  It's a long drive - but it was worth it again - the bird was there and very cooperative.

Shortly after I parked, Andy Guthrie pulled up and we both made our way through a major wave of warblers that were moving through the parking area. Yellow-rumped and Pine Warblers were pretty much the majority - but Eastern Bluebirds, a family group of Northern Flickers, and a gorgeous Pileated Woodpecker were also on the scene.

When we got down to the beach, I was very disappointed to find it empty, other than some Ring-billed Gulls.  We scoured the entire area and had just decided to check another beach area, some Semipalmated Sandpipers flew in - and wouldn't you know - the phalarope joined soon after.

Wow, what a pretty little shorebird.  It was a juvenile and so it wasn't in the beautiful breeding plumage I would have loved to have seen - but the delicate, little phalarope was still a lovely sight.  It pretty much hung with the other peeps, foraging in the slime near the water's edge. Every once in a while, they'd all put up and take a few turns around the beach area, only to return a minute later and continue their foraging. Soon, Sanderlings replace the Semipalmateds - and the phalarope remained, content to hang with these shorebirds.

I shadowed Andy for a little while, scanning the lake, hoping for another jaeger - but no luck there.  Andy did point out a lovely Cape May Warbler high up in a tree - my first of the fall season.  Later, after he left, I got a few more photos of the Red Phalarope and Sanderlings until they put up and circled the beach, settling down on the opposite corner.  I figured that's when I'd take my leave and go pursue those warblers we had seen on our way in.  As I was packing up my scope, I noticed the birds fly up from the beach, the Sanderlings going off to the west but the phalarope went straight out towards the lake. I followed it in my bins until I lost it in the heat shimmer.  It sounds like no one has seen it since - and I think I witnessed its departure.

I didn't do too well with warblers, only finding a few: Black-and-white, a couple more Pines, and a Common Yellowthroat...
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Red Phalarope, a beautiful shorebird!
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Red Phalarope
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Red Phalarope
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Red Phalarope in flight
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Red Phalarope trailing 3 Semipalmated Sandpipers
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Sanderling
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Sanderling
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Sanderling
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Sanderling
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Pine Warbler
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Black-and-white Warbler
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Black-and-white Warbler
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Black-and-white Warbler
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Black-and-white Warbler


Yard Migrants - Part 2

Published September 12, 2014
Tags: General Observations, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, American Redstart, Ovenbird, Swainson's Thrush, Wood Thrush

A few more migrants came through our yard this week. I was surprised to find a Swainson's Thrush AND a Wood Thrush AND an Ovenbird all in the same compost area back by the gardens.  They were all scratching around in the debris and I wasn't sure where to point the camera first.

Warblers are so fast and so challenging to get photos of!  I managed a few, but some eluded me - even a few ID's eluded me as I just wasn't able to get a good look at them before they twirled around a branch, a leaf, a tree trunk, and then were gone...  Ahhhh, but such beautiful jewels they are and how wonderful that they come by and grace us with their appearance a couple of times a year...
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Bay-breasted Warbler
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Gray-cheeked Thrush (Rumsey Woods, Buffalo)
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Wilson's Warbler
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Nashville Warbler
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Black-throated Blue Warbler
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Black-throated Blue Warbler
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Adult male Hooded Warbler (our resident!)
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Adult male Hooded Warbler (he was singing his heart out this day)
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Red-eyed Vireo
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Red-eyed Vireo
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American Redstart (female)
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Black-throated Green Warbler
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The female Scarlet Tanager returned or this is a different one
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Scarlet Tanager
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Nashville Warbler - he seemed fascinated with my husband's garden
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Nashville Warbler
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Nashville Warbler
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Ovenbird
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Ovenbird
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Ovenbird
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Wood Thrush
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Wood Thrush
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Swainson's Thrush
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Swainson's Thrush