Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Winter Bird Highlights

What? Is it really time for winter bird highlights? When we lived in upstate New York it was time for tapping the maple trees, not compiling bird records. But since it feels like spring already, (especially today; it's about 65 degrees) with the daffodils and pears and cherries blooming, I might as well do it. This winter as been the weirdest one in a long time, with snow in November here, and no snow up in New England for a while. Bird reports have been just as strange. The Snowy Owls have been moving south; the GBBC had around 600 reports in 29 states. And Whooping Cranes have been reported wintering in Indiana and of course in north Alabama, where Operation Migration's flock is wintering at Wheeler NWR. Altogether, the winter of 2011-2012 has been memorable to many birders. The rarities are still coming. The Painted Redstart is still near Ocean Springs, Mississippi (on the Gulf), and a Pink-footed Goose has been spotted in Maryland and places near there. This last one is especially weird. Pink-footed Geese are extremely common in Europe and Asia, and are hunted for sport. But in North America, a Pink-footed Goose is something to wonder at. Dickcissels are moving east, with lots of sightings in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and other places throughout New England. The sightings here in north MS have also been unusual. In the Memphis Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society newsletter, I saw reports of Red Crossbills, a Short-eared Owl, Yellow-headed Blackbirds, and more. But birds in my yard have been pretty much normal. In December, though, we did have our first flock of House Finches since we moved to north Mississippi. Also, I have confirmed that mystery hawk as a Red-shouldered. Why was it so hard? It seems obvious that it wasn't a Broad-winged now. Sometimes, I just need to stop and look closer, I guess. To find more info on how birds are doing, click here. It's a link to a part of the eBird website where you can view maps of data. If you click on "Line Graphs", it will ask you to enter a species name. Once you do that, you can see how that species is doing in a location. You can actually enter more than one species, and see how each of them is doing. You may already know this, but just in case, I'm telling you. 

Also, I took some photos yesterday that I wanted to share. Here they are:

 Northern Mockingbird.

Cherry blossom in the sunset.

Experimenting with shadow photography.

My trusty Bushnell Spotting Scope. (Looks cool in black and white :)

The pear trees along our neighbors' driveway.

Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds.

The sunset. My camera was running out of batteries, but I couldn't resist taking this photo.

So I hope everyone's year lists are nice and long already and they're having a great winter/spring!

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