Tuesday, May 17, 2016

New Patch Record

I know you don't care about the few species I see on my daily dog walks, but screw you, I've got a dog that I need to walk and I may as well look at birds while I do it.


Reminder: I walk my ten-year-old dumb awesome dog Gibson (most) evenings after work up The Yards Park along the Anacostia River in Southeast Washington, DC.  As I've covered before, I count birds when I leave my apartment building on South Capitol Street, past Nationals Park, along Yards Park up the Anacostia River to the dog park, then down along the Navy Yard to where the USS Barry (recently!) was located. Then I turn around.  Technically, I am counting birds on more than The Yards Park, but I don't care because screw you I don't care.

I didn't expect much out of this afternoon. It was drizzling, like it has been for the past frigging forever out here. I left the house in the rain, and the birds weren't cooperating for the most of the walk. Starlings, Fish Crows, Grackles, and House Sparrows at the stadium. Ospreys nesting in their typical spot. Robins in the little yard thing. Six species before the boardwalk does not a record-breaking walk make.

Even after the dog park - usually a hotspot - I was expecting a typical 15-18 species walk. A Common Yellowthroat on the slope was nice, but there were no good sparrows -- the recent Swamp Sparrow, Gray Catbird, and Eastern Towhee were gone -- and not much good habitat left.

But then things picked up. A pair of Goldfinches in the small tree near Due South was a rare spotting, and signaled a crazy run of good birds. An American Crow, rarely identifiable along the river, called as it flew overhead.  Then, a little bird in the birches by the parking lot, where I always expect to see birds but never see a goddamn thing: a Black-and-white Warbler! New patch bird!

Immediately afterwards I saw some white birds flying down over the river. Must by the typical groups of Ring-billed Gulls, I thought, but these have black hoods ... Laughing Gulls! Very unusual in summer, and probably the first time ever I've tripped an eBird filter on my walk. Sweet.

With some dumb Mallards on the river, I was suddenly at 20 species, a mark I'd only reached once before. Then, on the way back down, there was a whistle in the birches: a goddamn Cedar Waxwing! Another bird I'd never seen in the park before. A Barn Swallow (expected), Great Blue Heron flying upriver (fairly expected), and a Great Black-backed Gull under the South Capitol Street Bridge (unusual!) later, I was at 24! A record breaker!

What bird kept me away from a tidy little 25? Frigging Rock Pigeon. Well, gotta leave some for next time.

Here's an image numbered with each new bird I found. Orange are new birds for the park.

1. European Starling
2. Fish Crow
3. Common Grackle
4. House Sparrow
5. Osprey
6. American Robin
7. Song Sparrow
8. Double-crested Cormorant
9. Ring-billed Gull
10. Common Yellowthroat
11. Mourning Dove
12. American Goldfinch
13. American Crow
14. Chimney Swift
15. House Finch
16. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
17. Northern Mockingbird
18. Black-and-white Warbler
19. Laughing Gull
20. Mallard
21. Barn Swallow
22. Cedar Waxwing
23. Great Blue Heron
24. Great Black-backed Gull

Monday, May 9, 2016


In cased you missed them, I've published a couple article on Audubon.org recently, here's a quick recap:

The Barred Owl, as part of the Sketch series.

As part of my Birdist Rules of Birding series:

Rule #12: How to Misidentify a Bird with Grace and Dignity

Rule #41: Identify your First Warbler

Rule #8: Bird Alone

Rule #22: You Can Always Impress Your Friends by Showing Them a Bald Eagle

Rule #63: Go Someplace Weird

Finally, I responded to that survey that supposedly found that people think birders are creepy.


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Top Fives of Florida

I take an annual ABA bird-finding trip each spring. In 2012 it was southeast Arizona. Then California, though I guess I didn't do a post on it, before Alaska in 2014 and the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas last year.

This spring I went with a buddy Jake to the mosquito-soaked, sun-pelted, Bud-Light-Lime-a-rita-caked shore of South Florida.  In the same way I did for Texas last year, here are some top fives.

Favorite Non-lifer Birds from Loxahatchee NWR
5. both flavors of Little Blue Heron

4. White Ibis

3. Common Gallinule

2. Limpkin - with 6 chicks!

1. Swallow-tailed Kites. The best bird on earth.

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