Friday, December 30, 2011

Arkabutla Christmas Bird Count

The other day we went to the Arkabutla Christmas Bird Count at Arkabutla Lake. We did a lot of the counting around the lake, and also at a place called Coldwater Point. We saw 54 species total. Here are some of the more impressive ones:

82 Snow Geese (life bird!)
22 Greater White-fronted Geese (also called 'Specklebellies')
110 American White Pelicans
455 Ring-billed Gulls
5 Great Egrets
168 Lesser Scaup
85 Buffleheads
30 Great Blue Herons (seen at many locations)
1 Bald Eagle
50 Horned Larks
22 Eastern Meadowlarks
And much, much more!

Of course, we also saw about a million Blue Jays and other common species like that. We did a lot of watching from the car, but we stopped whenever we saw a bird. We also found 2 or 3 deer carcasses (gross), which attracted a fair amount of vultures (36 Turkey and 5 Black). Okay, I know some people who are not bird-obsessed like me will not know what I'm talking about, but hopefully they will be motivated to learn more. We went as part of the Tennessee Ornithological Society. This was the first walk we've been on with them, so, naturally, I forgot the camera. Oh, well. I did make some realizations: #1. I need more species on my Life List! #2. I do not know as much about birds as I think I do. The guy who led our group had been birding as long as I have (6 years), and he was waaaay better than me. New Year resolution: Learn as much as I can!!!

So this is how we did it. Christmas Bird Counts (or CBCs) always have include all the birds in a 15-mile radius. We bent the rules a little because our circle was not really a circle. Once inside the "circle", we counted all the birds we saw. Every single one. Pigeons and House Sparrows count, too! There were 2 other groups, each one counting around different parts of the lake. Altogether, we had 102 species, including some rarities like Lapland Longspur, Short-eared Owl and Thayer's Gull (none of which our group saw). We birded the northeastern part of the lake. Our only shorebird was a lone Killdeer. Apparently the southern part has Sandhill Cranes, a bird I've only seen once, in Nebraska. And there were only twelve participants!

Arkabutla Lake is a really great place to bird, fish, boat, or camp. If you can go there, I urge you to.

Happy Trails, everybody!!

~~Katydids and Bluebirds~~

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day at our House

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! I hope your Christmas was filled with family, friends, and jolly! Ours certainly was!! :D As usual, the living room looked like a bomb went off after we opened our presents. There was a lot of exited squealing and yelling. Unfortunately, the camera ran out of memory space after we had taken only a few photos. Here they are:

 Our Christmas tree. We put programmable lights on it. Those are fun to mess around with.

The presents before we opened them. Pop is in the picture. He wouldn't move.

Here's another Christmas-y picture, though it was taken a few weeks ago.

Isn't it pretty? We were surprised to get so much snow.

Merry Christmas!

~~Katydids and Bluebirds~~

Monday, December 5, 2011

Project FeederWatch at our House

Project FeederWatch is a citizen science project from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. You watch birds at your feeders two days a week (after you sign up) and submit all of your data to scientists. It helps them learn about bird population in the winter. It's easy, and it's really fun. It started November 12, but you can sign up any time. It runs to April 6. Here are some of the birds we've seen at our feeders so far:

House  Finch.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. (Great camouflage!)

Northern Cardinal. This one came right after the unexpected snow(?!) in November.

Carolina Chickadees are the most common bird at our feeders.

Downy Woodpeckers (this one's a female) are also pretty common in our yard.

Eastern Bluebird. These were perched on the telephone wire in front of our house. They like to perch on wires and watch for insects on the ground. They'll swoop down to grab the insects, and then they'll fly back up to the wire.

Dark-eyed (or Slate-colored) Junco. These are pretty common at our feeders as well. We often see big flocks of them hopping around by our feeders.

Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker. Also called Yellow Hammer. These are really interesting woodpeckers because they often look for food on the ground as well as in trees. They are the state bird of Alabama.

That's pretty much all the newer photos I have of our common feeder birds. Hopefully we'll get to go birding more once we join the Tennessee Ornithological Society. We live close to Memphis, so it's kind of suburban here. But there are a surprising amount of birds!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fall Challenge Day 7 Surprise!

I am so so so sorry I forgot to post the surprise I had for Saturday!! Instead I guess I'll do it today. We are at our grandparents' house right now and we just arrived this afternoon. Their house is in middle Tennessee. Now for my surprise! *DRUM ROLL* It's a poem that I wrote!!


The leaves are turning,
The frost is coming,
The time for cold weather is here.
The woods are full of the squirrels storing nuts,
And the birds and mice and deer.
The rolling hills are turning gold,
The year is growing old.
You hear a honking
And see geese sailing high
In the blue and never ending sky.
This is the time when Earth recovers.
It's nice and beautiful for us all.
This is Fall.

I hope you liked it!! I got the idea in the shower. I seem to get some pretty good ideas in the shower. I wonder why that is....

This is our barn, by the way. :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fall Challenge: Day 6!!!

We're almost done..... I have a surprise for the last day (which is tomorrow)!

This is what our field looks like in fall. Isn't it pretty? Our property used to be a horse farm. With a huge barn!

This is a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker on a Sweet Gum. Sapsuckers winter here, so these birds mean fall is here!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fall Challenge Day 5!!!

We are now more than half way done with this challenge. I hope I have enough photos! Here are mine for today:

Fall makes me think of Halloween. This is my older brother's (his nickname on this blog is Gareth) jack o' lantern. It's a cyclops. :)

Yes, I know these are my chickens. But my 8-year-old brother (George by nickname. You know, like Curious George :) told me to. I couldn't resist. I love my chickens! It is sort of a fallish photo, though, because there are leaves on the ground. I should call it: "Chickens in Fall".  :D

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fall Challenge: Day 4!!!

It's Day 4! Time for more photos!!

This is only a Crape Myrtle, but it was really pretty. I loved the way the light shone through the leaves in the late afternoon.

These are some hickory trees in our yard. This is what November looks like to me. These trees are in a part of our yard that is landscaped with azaleas. We call it Azalea Garden. Some of the azaleas are encore azaleas, so they bloom in the fall too. Here is a photo:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fall Challenge: Day 3

Fall Challenge day 3 has come. That means I have to post another photo. (Or two.) Here they are:

These are Frost Asters. They're called that because they appear around the first frost. They are also called Michaelmas Daisies.

This is another Sweet Gum leaf. This one was so pretty, I had to take a photo. Of course, most of the leaves are gone now, but this was taken last month.
I love fall colors. They seem to last longer here than in New York. It's snowing in New York right now, probably.
I love this challenge!

Katydids and Bluebirds

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fall Challenge: Photos 1 and 2

Hi! The fall challenge I'm doing started yesterday, but I forgot to post. So today, I'll just post two photos. Here they are:
                                                         Photo #1:

This one is of Sweet Gum leaves in the corner of our yard. Not as pretty as maples, but still nice!

Photo #2:

This is a photo of a really pretty tree in our yard. I wish I knew what it was.....
And that's all for today! I hope I remember to post tomorrow.

Katydids and Bluebirds

P.S: Thanks, friend, for making this challenge up!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What I'm Doing This Fall

Hi, guys! I thought I'd give everyone a heads up, because starting tomorrow, I am doing a photography challenge I found on my friend's blog. It's a fall challenge where you have to take a picture every day that is about fall and post it on your blog. They can be from this year only. It's going to be really fun! Where I used to live in New York, near Albany, the fall colors were beautiful. The pictures I took then would be great for the challenge, except they're not from this year. But here in Mississippi fall has such nice weather. I love the South! But I will be looking forward to spring! I can't wait to start taking photos! :D

Happy Trails, everybody!

Katydids and Bluebirds

Oh! I almost forgot! Today is when Project FeederWatch starts. It's from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. What you do is you sign up at Project Feederwatch Then you pick two days a week to watch the birds at your feeders. Then, you go to the website I mentioned and you submit your list of bird species. You try to do it until April 6th!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Some of our Birds

Hi! I thought I'd do a post on some of the birds in our yard. Here are some of the most common:

Northern Cardinal. Sorry this is kind of blurry. It was taken early this year so it looks pretty cold.

Eastern Bluebird. Sorry about the weird angle. This one is a male. We have tons of bluebirds nesting in our yard each year. I was so excited about that when we moved here!

American Goldfinch. I love these birds. They're so pretty. This is either a female or a male in his winter plumage.

Eastern Pheobe. We have a lot of these birds, too. If you imitate their "pheee--beee" call they will call back to you. This one is the same one pictured in my first post. He just sat there while I took photos.

Carolina chickadee. I love this photo!! I didn't even know it was flying until after I took the photo. I love chickadees.

Northern Mockingbird. This is the state bird of Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas. We have one that sits at the top of a certain tree and sings. I think it's the one in this photo.

White-breasted Nuthatch. These birds are so fun to watch. They're fairly common at our feeders.

Sorry, I had to post this. Whole nest of Great Blue Herons!!!! This wasn't in our yard; (I wish it was!) it was in Lichterman Nature Center. I was sooo excited!! This was taken in June. We do sometimes see herons flying over our yard, though.

These are only a tiny fraction of the birds in our yard. That's why I titled this "SOME of our Birds".

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Introducing Myself!

Hi everybody! (That's an eastern wood-pewee up there.) I'm from north Mississippi. This is my new nature blog called "Birds, Etc.". I am a twelve-year-old homeschooler with six brothers, aged 15, 8, 6, 6, (twins) 4, and 1. I have been addicted to birds and nature my whole life. I also love photography, so this blog will have a lot of pictures on it. I am also Catholic. My favorite birding places I've been are: Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs, MS, and Lichterman Nature Center in Memphis, TN. Even though we live in the suburbs, we have 5 acres and plenty of birds. We used to live in upstate New York, but in August, 2010 we moved down here. I have 143 species of birds on my life list, and I hope to add more. My favorite bird species is the Eastern bluebird.
Now some random facts about me.
Favorite food: Cheesecake!! Yum!
Favorite activity: Birding
Favorite sport: soccer
Pets: Chickens (10 of them!)
That's all I could think of. Enjoy the blog! :-)