Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival Was Great!

Great Kiskadee digiscoped at Anzalduas in the Rio Grande Valley TX 2011-11-13 photo: Greg Miller

What a terrific trip!  Too bad the Internet at the Super8 was not working in my room.  Well.  I might not have had time to update here anyway.  I was really busy with too much fun stuff!  I was on field trips every day:

Wednesday – Big Day Vans

Thursday – Brownsville West (University of Texas at Brownsville and Resaca de la Palma)

Friday – Santa Ana NWR

Saturday – Weslaco (Estero Llano Grande, Frontera, and Valley Nature Center)

Sunday – Chase Vans (Anzalduas)

We all got to see many of the Rio Grande Valley specialties.  I also met so many wonderful people and the programs were great, too!  It was a rich experience and a lot of fun.

It was a very different feel to the RGV this year as I saw a few odd, out-of-place birds including Green-tailed Towhee, Pine Siskin, American Robin, Hermit Thrush, and Eastern Bluebird.

This is a really short post.  I’m getting ready to go to work today, then speak at Canton Audubon Society this evening, and leave very early tomorrow morning to catch the first flight out to New Mexico for the Festival of the Cranes (where I’ll be the rest of the week).

You Started A New Hobby??!!?

Whaaaat?  hahaha.  Well.  Not really new.  But new nonetheless.  I’ve ditched my old scopes and upgraded to just one new one.  And…<drumroll>…I got a DSLR camera and adapter to go with it.  So I am one happy camper.  And I’ve been reading.  What a complicated new world!  But, I am quite excited.  Unfortunately, I am going to have to give myself some real patience with this twist of my birding hobby.  The learning curve is pretty big.  And execution is kind of difficult.  (Especially for Captain Shaky Hands)  This will, of course, put a dent in my traditional listing.  But hey.  Now my digiscoping setup is going to have its own life list. 🙂

Snowy Egret - Millersburg, OH - 2011-04-26 photo: Greg Miller

This is a pretty good bird for the Bobolink Area of Ohio.  For those of you who want to look, this bird is South of the Walmart on Rt 83 South of Millersburg, Ohio.  From the intersection of Rt 62 & Rt 83 South of town (where Rt 62 splits off toward Killbuck), go North (toward the Walmart) and park safely in the first wide dirt pulloff on the right side of the road.  Pull completely off the road.  Rt 83 has lots of trafffic.  The bird should be feeding in the swampy area across the road.

Unfortunately, it was windy and cloudy at the time and I was pretty far away.  So this pic is a bit grainy, but it sure looks a whole lot better than my zillions of old photos that qualify for the Gallery of C.R.A.P.  (Completely Ridiculous Awful Photographs). Continue reading


Female Varied Thrush photo: Minette Layne

Above is a representative photo only (state of Washington).  I know of no photos that were taken of the Wayne County bird yesterday.

Yep.  Whiff.  Missed this bird today.  I heard about a reported Varied Thrush late this morning via a phone call.  I went to verify/see the bird near Apple Creek, Ohio.  I picked up Robert Hershberger and we arrived at the Apple Creek home that reported the Varied Thrush.  This was also the same home that hosted a Harris’s Sparrow most of this past winter.

As you can see from the picture above, there are some similarities to an immature American Robin.  The mottled breast of the female Varied Thrush has at least some remote similarity to the spotted breast of an immature robin.  And immature robins can have a white eyestripe, while the female Varied Thrush has a light orange eyestripe.  But in no plumage of American Robin does it have the orange wingbars of the Varied Thrush.  These orange wingbars are so diagnostic that a birder can observe this feature of the Varied Thrush in flight with the naked eye.

We parked and then talked to the homeowners.  They escorted us back to the Southwest corner of the lot to the woods back of the pond.  This is where the bird had been seen last.  A small contingent of birders crossed the fence and scoured the woods, but with no luck. Continue reading

An April 1st Who-dun-it

Yesterday morning (3/31/2011) I found some tracks in the snow on the sidewalk in front of my house.

bird tracks in the snow, 3/31/2011 photo: Greg Miller

Haha!  You say you don’t have much information to go on?  Like size.  Are these tiny tracks, medium tracks, or large tracks?  What if I didn’t tell you?  There were more tracks in the snow that are not in this picture.  Am I being evil here?  Yes.  A little. Continue reading