The Ash-throated Flycatcher proved an easy target for my camera. I am heading off to New Jersey early tomorrow with my girlfriend so I need sleep and will post more of my adventures over the weekend.
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The last National Geographic has a great article on hummingbirds with some of the most beautiful hummingbird photographs I have ever seen. Apparently, these hummingbirds are captured, carried to the photographers SUV which is equipped with flowers and proceeds to photograph them. The goal is to document all the species of hummingbirds in order to better conserve them. To see more photos as well as videos click on the Steely-vented Hummingbird above.
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Well, I have been to Memorial Lake 3 times now to see the Thayer’s Gull and last night was the closest I have come to see it. It showed up as it was getting dark and Tom Johnson gave me a call that he was seeing it from across the lake. My mistake was trying to see it from where I was rather than whipping over to his location. By the time I finally did go over to the other vantage point it was much too dark to get a satisfactory look. I am fairly positive that I actually saw the bird but I don’t like to count things when I am not 100% positive that I know what I am looking at.There were good numbers of other gulls as well.
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Yesterday Tom Johnson reported a California Gull at Memorial Lake State Park along with the Thayer’s Gull that has been frequenting the area. I am off to meet him and hopefully see both birds.
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Now that Christmas is officially over I feel as if I should past what I got today. Highlights include a brand new eastern edition of Sibley’s, a tiny little camera case, an awesome Mountain Hardwear down vest, and some clothes. But the most exciting present of all was a year’s subscription to Birds of North America (BNA) Online from Cornell Lab of Ornithology from my parents. For all you users of Ebird, they are offering the year subscription for only $25 which is really a steal for all the info you are getting in return. There is a book version of the which runs a couple thousand dollars and about 18,000 pages. I think that is a little excessive for a home library. But with the online version you get all this info as well as updates, sounds and videos of the birds.
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I have a brand new miss for my list. There was a Northern Shrike reported around the same area as that mystery empid (probably Least Flycatcher) during the Solanco CBC. It was in an easy to locate area and close to my girlfriends house so I decided to give it a shot today. There was at least one other birder on location trying to find the shrike but we both came up empty handed. My ability to show up after a bird has disappeared continues to amaze and frustrate me. Here is a picture of the N. Shrike taken by one of the guys who found it. I have seen shrikes on various occasions but I am still looking for one in Pennsylvania. Seems like it has been a good year for them with several being reported across the state so maybe I will find one yet.
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Image via Wikipedia For a great animated flick with a hint of conservation I would recommend the new movie, Happy Feet. The main theme is about a young Emperor Penguin who can’t sing the typical mate attracting song, but rather has a knack for dancing. The Independent in the UK recently had an article about the dramatic decline of the Rockhopper (Eudyptes chrysocome), one of the penguin species featured in the film. There has been almost a 30% decline of Rockhoppers on the Falkland Islands in the last five years according to RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds). And looking at figures from 1932, when there were approximately 1.5 million Rockhopper pairs, the decline is around 85%. The cause for the decline isn’t exactly clear but theories range from algae blooms linked to climate change to a massive shift in the ecology of the Southern Ocean.
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As an intern at Hawk Mountain this past fall I was privileged to be there for an excellent season. Records set included:-the 4th highest one-day Broad-winged Hawk count (7,508)-a tie for the one-day Northern Harrier record (36)–season record for Golden Eagles (164)-season record for Merlins (204)–tied for season record for Peregrine Falcons (62)-Mississippi Kite (1, 5th record) Also, Turkey and Black vultures, Sharp-shinned Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, and Red-tailed Hawks, Bald Eagles, Osprey and Northern Harriers all had above average counts making this a great season not just for the 11,801 Broad-winged Hawks we counted, but 11 other raptor species as well. On December 6th at 11:40am Hawk Mountain reached another milestone with a Red-tailed Hawk being the 25,000th raptor of the season.
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Missed another good bird yesterday. There was a Thayer’s Gull reported at Memorial Lake State Park along with a first cycle Iceland Gull. Both are good for the area with Thayer’s being especially hard to find this far east. It was a second cycle bird that had been seen at least several nights coming in to roost. Due to the holiday schedule with UPS, I only had time in the morning so I thought I would give it a chance. I got there at dawn in order to scan the gull flock before it took off for the day. Great Black-backed Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were there in good numbers among the Herring and Ring-billed Gulls but nothing else. I had dipped on what I thought was almost a sure thing. Here is a shot showing the Thayer’s Gull.
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The day started at 4am with a couple productive hours of owling around Octorara Lake. Using calls from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s recent release, Voices of North American Owls, we managed to hear (but not see) 5 species of owls; 6 N. Saw-whet Owls, 6 E. Screech Owls, 2 Long-eared Owls, 2 Great Horned Owls and 1 Barn Owl. The new CD proved particularly useful in getting responses from the saw-whets which are often hard to find. The variety of calls, particularly one which we dubbed the pewp (or poop) call, were very good at eliciting responses. Once daylight arrived we walked a long loop through some conifer plantations and scrubby area and were quite pleased with the 18 dapper looking Fox Sparrows that we saw. Other highlights included both Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks, Killdeer, Eastern Towhee and several Winter Wrens.
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