birds!

April 18, 2018

As you might have gathered, birds make me happy. They’re interesting, and they’re everywhere.

As I do every year, I’d like to point you to the local Osprey nest cam. This pair of ospreys have been nesting here for more than a decade, and the current brood is well under way. Yesterday, we had a massive wind storm in the area. 80 mph gusts. (We sometimes remind ourselves, if we lived on the coast this would classify as hurricane-force, but because we don’t, it’s just WIND.) The camera on the nest went out, which was a bit nerve wracking. But lo and behold, while the nest took some damage, the ospreys and eggs are all well. Love those guys.

And in two weeks, the Global Big Day is once again upon us. I’m not sure what my strategy is going to be this year, but I’m definitely going to get out and try to turn in some counts.

 

Advertisements

more birding adventures!

April 11, 2018

I got tired of holding my point-and-shoot up to the spotting scope to try to get pictures, so I got an adapter to attach my phone to it, to try to take pictures that way. Went out to try the setup for the first time yesterday. I can see there’s going to be a learning curve — the phone and attachment throw the scope off balance and it’s hard to get it all steady. But I managed to get a few shots I’m willing to show off. Here’s one, a pair of American Avocets.

I love the detail that comes through with the scope and my phone. Those colors are so sharp. And I love avocets, they’re so slick and graceful. Now I need to work on getting the whole scope set up better and figure out photo processing to clean them all up. But, not bad for a raw image.

I’m not sure how people get pictures of songbirds with their spotting scopes. Water birds are there in the open, easy to see, and you generally have time to point, focus, etc. Near as I can figure, to get pictures of the little manic birds you basically have to point the scope somewhere and wait for something to fly into view?

 

spring!

March 16, 2018

Every year I think the crocus are coming up earlier, and then I check blog posts from previous years and no, they’re right on schedule. Which means we’re due for a big snow right when the tulips start blooming. I don’t think my tulips — which are sprouting all over the place — have ever actually bloomed, because the buds get caught in that late freeze.

Given that my attitude on gardening is “Let’s put some things in the dirt and see what happens!” I suppose I can’t expect too much more than what I’ve got. Which is actually quite nice if chaotic. Those crocus in spring make me so happy, every single year.

My container sage appears to have survived the winter and is re-sprouting. One of my back-burner projects is researching cocktails with herbs as garnish. I’ve seen some that use sage. Time to dig out those recipes!

Oh god it’s finally spring, I’m feeling so much better about, well, everything.

Current WiP:  crossed 80,000 words this weeks. It’s probably going to end up being the longest thing I’ve ever written.

 

clearing the head

March 2, 2018

I had to get out this morning to clear my head. Yeah, that’ll do:

Bonus:  I finally found the local great blue heron rookery. There are herons present, prepping their nests. This is joyous to me.

 

winter, ugh

February 12, 2018

I spent the weekend in Lamar, Colorado, looking at snow geese during the High Plains Snow Goose Festival. (They’re already migrating north and stop off in the area for a break this time of year. Thousands of snow geese, just hanging out.) Here’s how the weather breakdown went:

Thursday, the day I arrived:  60 F, sunny, beautiful.

Friday, birding day 1: 20 F, overcast, very cold.

Saturday, birding day 2: 20 F, snowing, OMFG cold.

Sunday, the day I left: 40 F, bright and sunny.

I am officially done with winter. I hit the wall. I can’t do this anymore. WTF.  And it wasn’t even the cold. It was the cold on exactly the two days I was trying to be outside, with gorgeous weather on either end. So angry making.

I logged 38 species. The most interesting were probably a merlin, a greater yellowlegs, a golden eagle, and hooded and common mergansers.

There were a lot more birds out there. I could tell they were out there. If I had been patient, if I could have stood out there and waited for them to come out I probably could have seen them. But it was very cold, so I didn’t.

But I have seen the snow geese, so the next time I go to that area, I’ll do it well into springtime, I think.

 

March!

January 22, 2018

At the march on Saturday we talked a lot about what was different between this year and last year. Last year, we didn’t really know what to expect from the current administration, we just knew it didn’t represent our values and we needed to make that clear. We were angry, we were energized. A lot of us had never done this before, so we were a little nervous. But we were so amazed and happy to be there, to be doing something.

This year, we know exactly how bad the administration can get. We’re still energized. And maybe not as angry but definitely resolved. Last year was uncertainty. This year, we know what we have to do. Midterm elections are coming up.

I can see us marching like this for years, just to demonstrate that we’re still paying attention.

So what’s it like, being the middle of a crowd of 50k – 100k people? Not as claustrophobic as you might think. You don’t move very fast, when everyone is trying to funnel from a giant park into a four-lane street. So you be patient. You make sure everyone around you has room and is doing okay. You move a block in half an hour. You have to have a little bit of faith that you’re headed in the right direction ’cause you can’t see very much from where you are. Then you get to the street and you’re walking, and once again checking in with everyone around you to make sure everyone’s okay.

And you all keep moving together.

 

So my biggest obstacle to better birding is the fact that I’m most definitely, decisively, not a morning person. Of course, the best time to see birds is in the couple of hours after dawn (you know, when all the birds are singing so loudly right outside your window).

Saturday I got it into my head I was going to get out to the Walden Ponds area at the crack of dawn. Didn’t quite make it, but I did get there at 7:30 am. (People who know me will be entirely amazed at this. I did it, guys! 7 freaking thirty!)

I sort of had this idea that if I got out early enough the birds would just swarm me, come right out of the trees and pose for me, making them easy to watch and ID. This did not happen. Like, at all. But, there were a lot more of them singing, and I bagged a few ID’s I don’t normally see at that spot:  lots of yellow warblers, a couple of cedar waxwings.

I did have two really great birding moments:

First, a whole flock of wood ducks. Half of them males in full plumage. Arguably one of the most beautiful birds in North America and they were all just right there.

Second: a western wood-pewee sitting on her nest. Her tiny little adorable cup-like nest, just comfy as she pleased, with papa bird sitting nearby. I would never have ID’d her without papa bird sitting there. I went home and checked the guide for the species, which describes their adorable cup-like nests. (I really like my new birding guide, because frequently it says exactly what I put in my field notes.)

Sometimes I get really frustrated, because I’ll spot a bird I can’t ID right away, and I make notes as best as I can — and then the guides fail me. The birding app fails me. They seem to contradict one another and my notes that I thought were so good aren’t good at all, because there are 15 species that size and shape that have a little bit of yellow on their bellies, and I forgot to write down the leg color, which turns out to be the decisive marking. I’m a terrible birdwatcher, I’m afraid.  I never thought I’d be able to ID this little gray thing on her tiny nest. But I googled “western wood pewee nest” and it’s right there, that’s just what she looked like. I’m calling it.

I bet if I go back in a couple weeks there’ll be little baby pewees sticking their heads up.

In other news, there is a bird called a wood pewee.