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!