Tuesday, May 09, 2017

More Birding Today

I made stops at Hills Creek State Park, The Muck and Darling Run on the Pine Creek Rails-to-Trails path today. It was a pretty good day when taken together though things certainly slowed down in the midday when I reached Darling Run.

Hills Creek yielded the largest number of species--and I only covered a small part of what we do on our Saturday walks. I primarily stayed in the day use/beach area walking the shoreline. I did go to the northern end at the Beaver Dam boat launch and picked up a Tundra Swan (very late in the year!), Double-crested Cormorant, and a Barred Owl there.

Canada Goose
Tundra Swan*     (Large white swan with all black bill.)
Wood Duck
Mallard
Common Merganser
Double-crested Cormorant
Osprey
Bald Eagle
Spotted Sandpiper
Mourning Dove
Barred Owl
Eastern Phoebe
Blue Jay
American Crow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Common Yellowthroat
Palm Warbler
White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
* First of the year

There was another oddity: A male Wood Duck seemed to be hanging with a female Common Merganser. Now, I know that they both will lay eggs in the same nest boxes, but these two looked and behaved like a mated pair. A real odd couple.

The pictures (I apologize for the poor quality. The subjects were backlit and made getting them in focus difficult.) :
Tundra Swan

Spotted Sandpiper

The Odd Couple: Female Common Merganser and male Wood Duck


******

The Muck was my second stop and it too produced some "new" birds.  The trail out to the blind was partially underwater just before reaching the boardwalk. The recent rains have really raised water levels! Nonetheless, I waded through the 2-3 inches of water and am glad I did! I was not in the blind long when a Common Gallinule showed up. And far out in the water there was a Canvasback. Both were "new" for the year.

The Muck list:

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Mallard
Canvasback*    (Listed as "rare for this time and place by eBird)
Ring-necked Duck   (Listed as "rare for this time and place by eBird)
Great Blue Heron
Red-tailed Hawk
Common Gallinule*   (Listed as "rare for this time and place by eBird)
Mourning Dove
American Crow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Marsh Wren    (Listed as "rare for this time and place by eBird)
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Yellow Warbler*
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird

The pictures:
Common Gallinule

Ring-necked Duck

Canvasback

******

It was nearly noon when I reached Darling Run and with the lateness of the day, I wasn't surprised that things were very, very slow. After checking out the eagles' nest across the creek, I walked from the parking area south along the bike trail to mile marker 9 (about 1/2 mile) and back.

The meager list form that mile walk:

Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
American Crow
Fish Crow
Tree Swallow
Gray Catbird
Common Yellowthroat
Song Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird

Only one bird "posed" for a photo:

Female Downy Woodpecker

Female Downy Woodpecker

It's been a couple of beautiful days weatherwise and in the field. I think I'm going to stay home tomorrow even if the weather is nice and spend some time around the house. We've a team together for the Global Big Day coming up on Saturday and, with the Hills Creek bird walk kicking things off, it's going to be a long day of birding.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Finally We Got Some Sun! So I Went Birding.

We started the day with a light coat of ice on the deck and 31 degrees on the thermometer. But, the clouds finally burned off and the temps rose into the low 50s by midday, so I decided to head out and do some birding.

My first stop was up on the northwest corner of Cowenesque Lake where I've had some success in the past. It wasn't great today as the only waterfowl visible were a bunch of Canada Geese and two Double-crested Cormorants. There were several first-of-the-year birds, however.

The full list of 27 species seen:
Canada Goose
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Kingbird *
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Common Raven
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher *
Common Yellowthroat *
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Baltimore Oriole *
American Goldfinch
       * First-of-the-year

A couple were kind enough to pose and I was lucky enough to get some decent photos.
Gray Catbird

Green Heron

Double-crested Cormorant
Tough getting good shots when the birds hide in the bushes or won't stop long enough to get a decent focus. Doing it off hand without a mono-pod, tripod, walking stick, or a convenient tree to steady the camera as I zoom in isn't easy either!

******

My second stop of the day was up on the western rim of the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania at Colton Point State Park. I drove to my usual spot almost across from Leonard Harrison, but there was not one song being sung nor one bird flitting about. So I was on my way home when I passed the trail head out to the Barbour Rocks Overlook and I figured, what the heck. I'd never walked out to that particular point before. It's a well graveled, handicapped accessible trail of 0.7 miles (one way).

Nice walk, but it was very unproductive. Except for two warbler species and a Hermit Thrush. I had heard the thrush before and the Black-throated Green Warbler, too. But this time I got some pretty fair pictures of them. Which is good seeing as they were totally silent at 4 in the afternoon.

My complete list from this little walk:
Turkey Vulture
Eastern Phoebe
Blue Jay
Common Raven
Hermit Thrush
Hooded Warbler *
Black-throated Green Warbler
    * First-of-the-year

Now for some pictures (there's some heavy cropping going on with the three birds, FYI):

Hooded Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

Hermit Thursh

And, if you want to get an idea of what the view was like.... This is looking south from the overlook.

Looking south from the Barbour Rocks overlook.

If tomorrow morning is nice, I may head out and do some more birding/picture taking.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

I thought it was Sunday! Where's the Sun?

A gray, dreary and down right chilly day with some spritzing of showers off and on. The temps have hovered right around 40 degrees since 6 AM.

I missed them, but Terry had eyes on a bear sow and her three new cubs as they left the yard. They must have been on the deck at one time for the feeders were knocked to the ground. And a pile of sh*t was left in the middle of the lawn. I'll have to start bringing the feeders in at night.

Even though the lighting isn't the greatest for good photos, I did play around with the Nikon P900 a little on the deck and through the window to record some of the daytime visitors.

Purple Finch

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (male)

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (female)
Black-capped Chickadee

Blue Jay

Chipping Sparrow

American Goldfinch

Tufted Titmouse

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-winged Blackbird

Gray Squirrel

We've also had White-breasted Nuthatches and Dark-eyed Juncos on the deck this morning. Conspicuously absent are the Mourning Doves.

There were several species of birds that I saw or heard in the woods and thickets along the edge of the yard, but even there, things are noticeably quieter than they have been. My guess is they are more interested in staying warm than in wooing.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Saturday Birding in the Rain

Those of you living in the North East do not have to be told about how wet it's been lately. Those horrendous storms from southern Missouri have made their way here and are likely to stay around for a good long while. While we haven't had the flooding the southern folks have experienced, we have had some tornadoes and wind storms that have produced damage. (Last Monday there were six tornadoes recorded in Pennsylvania--three were EF0 and three were EF1 in strength. Tuesday we had gusting gale force winds.) There's been a goodly number of power outages as a result. Here in Tioga County,  both Wellsboro and Mansfield have gone without power for hours on end.Even today (Saturday) Wellsboro lost power for a couple of hours as trees continue to fall and power grids get overwhelmed with recirculating the flow.

That said, the Tiadaghton Audubon Society held its regular Saturday morning bird walk at Hills Creek State Park today. With members absent to go to a birding festival in Erie and to band shore birds in Delaware, only Gary and I showed up to lead the walk--which started at 8 AM with just Gary and me. Two campers staying at the park did join us shortly after we started but we had to end the walk early when the rain returned.

I recorded 15 species in the HQ parking lot between 7 and 8 AM and another dozen or so in our brief walk around the beach area.

Canada Goose
Mallard
Ruddy Duck
Great Blue Heron
Osprey
Bald Eagle
Spotted Sandpiper
Hairy Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue Jay
American Crow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
European Starling
Ovenbird
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Eastern Towhee
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird

There may have been other waterfowl on the lake near the northern end but they were too distant for a good ID. Some looked to be Double-crested Cormorants. And we didn't get into the best warbler zones on our brief walk and none of the little buggers bothered to come to visit us.

On the way home, I spotted 4 or more Wood Duck on a small beaver pond along Shaw road but didn't stop to look for more. Then I saw a Ruffed Grouse cross the road and meander into the woods. Not the brightest of birds, grouse depend upon camouflage and surprise to make good their escape. (Anyone who has unexpectedly had a grouse explode from cover at their feet will tell you how heart-stopping the experience can be!) This particular bird went for the camo.

Ruffed Grouse




Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Surgery results.

The results:

"Well, that's the last time I tap Buffy on the shoulder!"

"It was pistols at 30 paces. The other guy? Let's just say I'll need to use the backhoe tomorrow."

More Medical Meddling

Spent most of the day up in Corning at the Guthrie Center Way where I had to skin cancers removed. One near my left temple was a squamous cell cancer that they had to test to insure they got it all otherwise there would be more cutting. The other, on the middle of my chest, was of a different variety and simply had to be cut out. Both were early stages and they seem to have been completely removed.

Aside from all the waiting for the lab results to come back, it wasn't that bad an experience. There were lots of jokes about scars and super heroes and random, free flowing repartee and comments from the three of us in the room.

There was a little bit of "ouch!" when he injected pain killers in to the sites, but the actual gouging out of the skin and flesh (about 3/16 to a 1/4 inch deep and 1-1/2 inch long and 1/2 wide in both cases) was surprisingly painless. The doctor had to lengthen both oval areas a bit to stitch things together so the scars are likely to be around 2 inches in length.

Anyway, I got a half of my face lifted a bit so I'm not sneering at you nor am I Elvis or The Joker. And I'll have two lovely white bandages for a couple of weeks and then some scars I can tell lies about. No hard physical activity for three days or so. (I can live with that!)



Friday, April 28, 2017

Playing With A New Toy

Terry and I are booked for an Alaskan Cruise with Royal Caribbean next month. We'll fly out to Vancouver, BC and board the ship there. It'll be nine days up the coast with stops at Sitka, Ketchican, Juneau, Skagway, among other ports with the final stop in Seward. We'll take a train from Seward to Anchorage and then fly home from there.

All this has been booked by our nephew, Brian who will be accompanying us with his wife, Vicky, and their little one, George.

This will be our first cruise and I'm looking forward to it. I am NOT looking forward to the long flights to and from our starting and ending points, however! At least they will be on Alaska Airlines.

Not wanting to haul my big camera and lenses with me through TSA checkpoints, I went and purchased a Nikon Coolpix P900 which is an all in one point-and-shoot, with a lens that goes from 24mm to 2000mm (!!), nothing short of a miracle camera. I also purchased a dandy little guide on how to use it. (Photographer's Guide to The Coolpix P900 by Alexander S. White) While you can pretty much take the camera out of the box and take some really good pictures, that guide book helps you utilize some of the amazing features of this camera. It also shows you how to use features you probably never, ever even considered.

Anyway, I've been toying with the camera for about a week now and still have a whole lot to learn let alone master.

American Goldfinch

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Tufted Titmouse

First Violet on the lawn.

House Finch

Spring Beauties

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I'm Back.

Let's see if I remember how to do a post. ...

It's been a long while since I've posted here. Lots of stuff happening but I'll spare you most of it (for now). I'll especially spare you any politics for as long as I can hold my tongue.

Terry and I have been busy doing our usual stuff. Mostly she's been traveling for various sewing classes and conventions while I've been hanging around the neighborhood. Some hunting last fall (I got a nice 8-point buck on opening day), some birding (still seeing the usual winter birds with only a few of the summer/migrants arriving), some gardening (rebuilding a raised bed that was starting to rot away), and a few short trips together into NJ for family stuff (Christmas, birthdays, etc.).

One major change that just took place was the trading of our 2007 Toyota Tundra for a 2017 Tundra. The "old" truck had 177,400 miles on the odometer and had see several trips up to Clova, Quebec for fishing; several trips with and without the trailer across country to the Pacific Coast; to Florida (no trailer); to Nova Scotia (with) and even to Alaska (again, with the trailer). We'll break the new one in easy like with a trip to Oregon in June without the trailer in tow and then to Clova (again trailerless) in July.

2007 Tundra has been a good workhorse.

2017 Tundra has yet to be tested but holds great promise.