Sunday, March 3, 2019

Revisit to the páramo

In 2019 we took the same route that we did in 2018, even ate lunch at the same restaurant.  We saw a couple of new birds, but mostly we saw the same birds better.

Above and below:  Black-chested Buzzard Eagle (Geranoaetus melanoleucus).  New bird for this year.

Black-tailed Trainbearer (Lesbia victoriae)

Black Flowerpiercer (Diglossa humeralis)

Cinereous Conebill (Conirostrum cinereum)

Above and below:  Streaked-backed Canastero (Asthenes wyatti) an example of one of our new birds and much more difficult to see than Many-striped Canastero (A. flammulata) which we saw well last year. There are two species of streak-backed canastero.  I think we may have seen A. w. aequatorialis - although this is just my guess.

Above:  Male Plumbeous Sierra-finch (Phrygilus unicolor)

Above:  Common at this elevation, Stout-billed Cinclodes (Cinclodes excelsior)

Páramo Pipit (Anthus bogotensis).  See much better this year.

Above:  female Plumbeous Sierra-finch

So cute, baby Andean Lapwing

Nearby adult Andean Lapwing (Vanellus resplendens)

Seen much better this year, Black-faced Ibis (Theristicus melanopis)

Also seen much better this year, Andean Gull (Larus serranus)

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Answer to last week's quiz photo

Although Matt Hysell gave this away with far better photos in his post on Condors' wings, just to complete my blog loop, here are my much more challenging images.

Barely visible, this is the first Andean Condor we saw, before we found the other, actually identifiable, bird below.

Above and below, after a not very long time perching, they took off to soar together.  The gray overtones of both photos is the heavy mist that plagued us the whole trip.

My next post reveals that the sun did come out for at least part of the day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Yesterday, return from Ecuador

In the rain and sleet I returned from our second trip to Ecuador yesterday morning.  Upon my 5:00 a.m. arrival in Atlanta it was raining.  For the first time ever in my flying life I was the first off the plane and the first to enter the U.S. customs area of the Atlanta airport. I don't know if it was because of this that I was also randomly selected to be scrutinized more closely by custom officials.  The custom officer was either very pleased, or sorely disappointed, when he ruffled through my scantily packed suitcase of muddy clothes.  He didn't even bother to check my backpack.  Nevertheless, the whole customs process went very quickly - probably because of my extraordinarily early arrival time - and I was able to consider an earlier flight to Detroit.  I arrived at gate A27 for the 7:25 a.m. departure flight and, after thinking about it a little, paid the $75 extra to get on this flight.  Glad I did.  The flight arrived in Detroit more or less on time and saved me a potential delay if I had instead waited for the departure of my originally planned 9:40 a.m. flight.

Thanks to recent inclement weather in Detroit (reminding drivers to go slower) there were no accidents on the I-94 and my cabbie got me home before mid-morning.  Attention to my little cat, laundry, a couple of phone calls and emails later and then I was downloading and deleting photos.

This year I promised myself that I would be ruthless with my photo deletions and I think I have done a pretty good job of it.  On the other hand I took far fewer photos this year, only about a 1/3 of the number taken last year - more about this later - and so the deletion process seemed much easier.

I return to work tomorrow - bracing myself - but I'll be adding my Ecuador blog entries over the next  days and weeks.

Until next time, the above photo is a quiz photo which I'll answer in my next entry.  Can you find the bird in the photo?  There are many hints.


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Long Reads - beauty and birds

From January 13, 2019 New York Times

Long Reads:  How Beauty is Making Scientists Rethink Evolution

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The worst photos you will ever see ...

... of Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus).

On Wednesday, November 7th, leaving home around 6:30 am, I drove out to the spot and saw the bird.  Really a big deal and the first really good chase in Washtenaw County in a very long time.  This much was evident by the fury it created on one of the list serves.  As I was looking at the bird, I realized that I knew none of the other people gathered around to also see it.  The feeling of disconnect from a birding community I had once been so well-acquainted with was obvious.

The bird started out close, but before I could get photos of it in the close spot of the pond, it moved quickly to the back of the pond and behind some stumps and logs.  The light was gray and low so it's likely that my photos would not have been great anyway, but at the back of the pond the deal was done.

I counted five Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) accompanying this bird and so hats off to whoever found it.  It would have been easy to walk away believing only yellowlegs were present in the pond.  Of course, once it revealed its bright orange legs its presence would have been eye popping.  Many excellent photos taken by others reveal the orange legs.

It was an attractive little bird.  I had seen Spotted Redshank before, in breeding plumage, in Bulgaria.  But seeing this bird, so far from it's typical range, I was jarred again by the feeling of the specialness of birds and all they can do and all that happens to them in the course of living their precarious lives.  It paused comfortably behind the stump, preened a little and showed no signs of relocating.  I was underdressed and getting colder and there was no one I knew to talk to and I still needed to go to work.

I was distracted by flocks of Sandhill Cranes flying over the road to land in the cornfield beyond the redshank pond (hereupon to always be known as the spotted redshank pond in Washtenaw County).  Time for me to leave and get to work.

Driving east I was so happy that I had got through the morning rush hour traffic to see the bird when I did.  The backup on the westbound I-94 was overwhelming.  I would never have seen the redshank had I left home a 1/2 hour later.  After being present several days, I think the spotted redshank left the pond that night and was not seen on November 8th.  

Saturday, November 3, 2018

A Mandarin Duck in Central Park

This NYT article from this past week is quite funny.

A Mandarin Duck in Central Park

I missed it by a month so saving for my next trip to Central Park. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Drama in the clouds

As the weather has gotten colder, more windy and more cloudy, Belle Isle has become a little less crowded.

First some photos from Sunday, October 15th, which was a very birdy day on Belle Isle.

Below, some photos from Saturday, Oct 20th.  First, I drove around downtown a bit to find the start  for the Detroit Free Press US half-marathon and the parking.  A few friends ran the race on Sunday, the 21st.  Race organizers had just starting setting up.  I thought about how it only takes one day to set up for a marathon.  We should have more marathons and fewer car races.

After this I drove over to Belle Isle, which with the colder and more threatening weather - as soon as I stepped onto the trail, loud, deep rolling thunder began - was not nearly as birdy as the previous Sunday.

Hermit Thrush above and female Eastern Towhee below were my two photo prizes.  Both of these birds were on the other side of the creek, but the distance was still doable and the lighting good.  I really love the towhee photo.  To me it seems that female towhees are hard to see and photo ops are rare.  Plus they are so beautiful.

Then came the cloud drama.  I think the one above is my favorite. Leaving the trail and driving around the park I had to stop for these photos.  All are cropped to get the construction mess around the park out of the shot.

Finally from the ABA blog a review of the book  Moving to the City:  Raptors in a Concrete Jungle just because I want to keep the review accessible for now.