Sunday, February 5, 2012

Actual Count + Looking Close

 [This Hermit Thrush popped up, as they do so reliably when pished at, in the woods at Tuckahoe this afternoon. Actual count: 1.]

From an ornithological persepctive, I guess the best thing I did this weekend was count: count the 218 Bonaparte's Gulls (actual count) on the bay just south of Miami Ave. in the Villas this morning, and count the 823 Northern Pintails (actual count) at Tuckahoe in the afternoon. eBird didn't like either of those numbers, which is to say the filters they (which also means me, since I help set them) flagged those numbers. But so it is, and so it was - I counted those birds one by one.

Of course, one reason I was doing all that counting was because I wanted to go through identifying each gull at Miami, and each duck at Tuckahoe (Duckahoe?), looking for Black-headed or Little Gulls and Eurasian Wigeon, respectively. No luck. The Black-headed Gull was found farther south on the Bay on Sunday, which was unsurprising - it's there for the winter, somewhere there, and doesn't necessarily hang out with the bonies. I wonder if it is lonely, and wonder where it will go to breed. Last year, or maybe it was two years ago, I saw up to three Black-headed Gulls together on the Bay, but this year so far there seems to be just one. Imagine being the only one of your kind for an entire winter.

A Razorbill out the truck window was especially nice at Townsend's Inlet this afternoon, since the northeast wind made standing outside and looking a bit daunting. That's my rare bird of the weekend.

Cox Hall Creek WMA/Villas WMA/Ponderlodge (synonyms for the same place) was really a good choice this morning. It always is. I don't bird there with full focus most of the time, including today, because I'm usually working the dog, but nonetheless the place produces interesting birds. Which today included a Hairy Woodpecker at the parking lot, a Winter Wren in the the wet woods, both kinglets, the usual set of Ring-necked Ducks and wigeon on the big lake, and a not so usual flock of 10 Field Sparrows.

 God, I hate it when the light sucks all weekend. Saturday and Sunday are the days I make I hay now, whether the sun shines or not. And it didn't. The best I could do was wander around Cox Hall Creek WMA in the gray, looking at things close up and fooling with the little lens. A different perspective, looking close when you're used to looking far. It even started annoying the dog, who thought I was going entirely too slow as I moseyed along eying lichens and moss and tree bark. And it annoyed me, too, but for a different reason: what kind of moss is this? What kind of lichens? What species of beetle? No idea. At least I knew the trees and shrubs.

[Artwork courtesy of the engraver beetles, Cox Hall Creek WMA today.] 

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