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

A Birthday Ruffed Grouse

Published October 23, 2017
Tags: General Observations, Ruffed Grouse

Bad weather was predicted for later in the day so I got myself out to my destination to do a little "birthday birding".  Last year, on my birthday, I was rewarded with a Golden Eagle.  Today, I hoped for a Northern Saw-whet Owl or a Ruffed Grouse.  The Ruffed Grouse would be a county bird, so I was especially hoping for that one.  And the forest I was going to seemed like just the right habitat.  But you know Ruffed Grouse - they aren't easy!

I did a bunch of birding in the park, walking quite a bit.  Finally, I thought I'd go back to the spot where I had started and where I was hearing some finch-like calls.  I had been interrupted by a county worker who was mowing the grass there so I left that spot unexplored.  When I got back to there, the finches weren't calling any longer, so I decided to just look around and see what I could find.  There were a lot of American Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds, and American Goldfinches, but no owl, no grouse, and not much else of interest.

Heading back to my car, I was walking down an uneven trail and had my eyes to the ground, making sure I didn't step wrong and fall.  I came around a bend and looked up - and whoa!  There, in the middle of the path, was a gorgeous Ruffed Grouse who just stood there looking at me.  I could hardly breathe.  I slowly lifted my camera and managed to click the shutter release.  Surprisingly, I got off exactly 28 rapidly fired shots before that beautiful bird slowly - very slowly - left the path and stepped into the woods - step by step.  I stood there with my mouth open for quite some time before I came to my senses and checked my camera to be sure it wasn't a dream.  The photos were there and I finally exhaled.
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Ruffed Grouse
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Ruffed Grouse


White-eyed Vireo!

Published September 19, 2017
Tags: General Observations, White-eyed Vireo, Bald Eagle, Lesser Scaup, Common Merganser

On this windy day, I decided to return to Sturgeon Point for reasons I can't explain.  I didn't expect to find much, given the strong winds - and even though I was here just the day before, I was in the mood for the peace and quiet that nature affords and this just felt right to me.

I scoped the lake for awhile first, enjoying the ducks as they streamed by in small flocks.  I had Lesser Scaup, Long-tailed, some Surf or Black Scoters, and many Common Mergansers.  An adult Bald Eagle flew overhead as did a Turkey Vulture and a few gulls.

Next, I talk a walk back on the trails. Soon, my ears began picking up the harsh call of a vireo between gusts of wind.  That was surprising because our resident vireos have all gone south by now.  Hmmmm... I quickly suspected a White-eyed Vireo, a regional rarity and one of my favorites.  We do get them passing through the area here and there in spring and fall, so I started to get hopeful one was here.  Sure enough, a little further ahead, I saw a flash of yellow back in some viney bushes.  I slowly advanced and found the bird in a thicket, calling its raspy call now and then.  Soon, it turned to face me and I was rewarded with those beautiful, white eyes!  Cool!  This was the first time I found this species on my own and I was quite elated.

I managed to get a few documentation-worthy shots of the cute, little vireo but he disappeared quickly and my camera never saw it again.  I did get another quick look at him about half an hour later, but it was unsatisfying and all too brief.

I'm glad I followed whatever it was that led me back to Sturgeon Point today!
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Bald Eagle
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Lesser Scaup
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Common Mergansers
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White-eyed Vireo
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White-eyed Vireo
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White-eyed Vireo
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White-eyed Vireo
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White-eyed Vireo


A Whimbrel Visits!

Published September 16, 2017
Tags: General Observations, Whimbrel

For several years now, I've been looking for a Whimbrel for my Erie County list.  I've seen them in other counties and others have seen them here in Erie County.  But never have I been able to catch up to one in my own county!

All Whimbrel sightings I've heard about or read about in Erie County were in bad weather situations - where big wind events or harsh rain storms put the bird(s) down on a beach or breakwall where they sit to ride out the storm.  So, storm after storm, I'd go out and scope and scan the beaches and breakwalls along the Niagara River and Lake Erie hoping to see that silhouette of a storm-blown Whimbrel, its long, decurved bill identifying it in the dim light.  And storm after storm, all I got for my effort was wet, wing-blown, and cold.

Oddly, on a sunny, warm, and beautiful day a couple of weeks ago, my dream came true.  I had just finished some early morning birding down at the Outer Harbor in Buffalo and I was in my car finalizing my checklist.  As I put my key in the ignition, I gave one last glance out the side window.  What?  OMG!!!  There, as plain as can be and as big as life, was a Whimbrel.  (I'm glad I wasn't eating anything or I'd have choked on it!)  Trying to calm myself and force myself to think clearly, I fumbled with my camera to get at least a documentation photo. I didn't think this mirage would last and expect it to fly off  any second.  I took some photos right through the closed car window - then, as I began to breathe a little more normally, I got a few better shots through an open window.

Strangely, the bird remained on the ground and to my surprise, it slowly started foraging along a path near the water.  Holy cow, maybe I can get some more photos.  I slowly got out of my car and began, what turned out to be an hour's worth of "documentation" photos.  I was enraptured by this bird, my unicorn!

As it turned out, this bird didn't leave right away as I assumed it would.  This beauty stuck around for 8 incredible days (Sept. 6th - Sept. 14th), giving many folks the opportunity to visit it.  Wow!
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One of my first shots of this beautiful shorebird
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Right away, it began searching for worms, grasshoppers, and whatever tasty delicacies it could find!
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A trusting bird - but I still maintained a respectful distance - these photos are all at 600mm and heavily cropped.
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Whimbrel
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A dog walker flushed the Whimbrel and it took a short flight to the rocky wall of the harbor.
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Taking another short flight...
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Such a striking bird!
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This was taken on Day 3
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The Whimbrel escaping the a Peregrine Falcon's fast and furious attempt to catch it!
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Not only was this bird getting "loved to death" by many photographers, there were at least 3 foxes nearby that I feared would hunt the Whimbrel.