Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ducks in Louisiana

I was hoping to switch gears off my Louisiana trip with a more local flair from a day of birding on Saturday, but alas I had a really bad birding day.  I left my house at 6AM for an hour or so drive to the Parker River NWR on Plum Island on the north shore of Massachusetts.  There were an assorted number of ducks and other species, but photography wasn't great and everyone I met along the way felt the same.  From there I visited the coast through Gloucester, Rockport and Cape May.  Just wasn't my day to bird.   I hope it was just an off day and it isn't that I was completely spoiled in Louisiana. 

Anyway today I'm reverting back to my gazillions of photos from Louisiana to share some ducks.  Although they were very skittish, I was able to a few good shots. I suspect their skittish behavior was due to the many hunters down south.  I'm not a hunter, but I have several friends that do.  Seems like everyone in the south does.  I don't mind as long as it is properly managed.  Duck hunters pump a great deal of money into conservation through the purchase of duck stamps.  Ducks Unlimited also supports conservation and protection of open space so hopefully the abundance of ducks will remain.

I was fortunate to get a very large variety.    My first stop was at the Audubon Zoo as I was told there is often alot of freeloaders and I wasn't disappointed.  Beside the resident ducks, there had to be 500 Black bellied whistling ducks, falvous whistling ducks, and many others.  Great for ducks!!!!!  See below

Black bellied Whistling Duck

 Fulvous Whistling Duck

Female Hooded Merganser

Wood Duck (woodies were all over the place) Luv'em!!!

I also visited Laccisine NWR in south central LA.  There was a huge abundance of everything present at Laccasine.  

Blue winged Teal

Female Blue Winged Teal

Green and Blue Winged Teal

Lesser Scaup

Female Northern Shoveler

Ring-necked (sweet!)

I've got some time off this week so hopefully I'll have a post of local birds.  I'm sure you don't care where they come from, but I need a fix bad.  :)  Hope you enjoy! 


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Perching Birds of Louisiana

Still sorting through 1400 pictures from my Louisiana trip.  I'll get several more posts out of it. 

My first post should have been my itinerary for the trip.  I visited many excellent locations from Mississippi to Texas.  I started on Saturday after landing at the airport at the Audubon Zoo looking for wintering ducks.   Spent a bit of time in City Park and then spent Sunday in Fontainbleu State Park in Mandeville along the northern edge of Lake Pontratrain.  Sunday I visited East New Orleans.  I was shocked at the condition of this part of the city.  Buildings and neighborhoods that still remain as they did immediately after Hurricane Katrina.  I refrained from taking pictures.  They've gone through enough down there to have more picturessplashed across the Internet.  Suffice it to say, lots more needs to be done down there to remove abandoned buildings.  Here's only one example and then I'll share my bird photos.
There are entire 12 to 15 story office buildings abandoned and blocks of residential houses no longer occupied.  Not sure what to think! 

I had great luck spotting perching birds at Fontainbleu State Park.  Several warblers, flycatchers, bluebirds were everywhere, and Loggerhead Shrike, a lifer for me. 

Nashville Warbler

Palm Warbler

Pine Warbler (outstanding color)

Ruby Crowned Kinglet

Eastern Bluebird

Loggerhead Shrike

Blue gray natcatcher

Yellow Rumped Warbler

Carolina Wren (I have two more wrens.  Just trying to ID species)

Common Yellow Throat (such an enjoyable bird to watch)

Stay tuned for more posts shortly.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Raptors of Louisiana

Today I'm posting an array of raptors that I encountered on my trip across Louisiana. I was amazed that there were so many. No exaggeration a hawk on a telephone pole every 1/4 mile. Thankfully there was little traffic on route so I could, if the spirit moved me, pull the car off for a quick photo.  I'm really happy about the Sharpie as I have not been able to photograph one previously.  I now have a much clearer view on the differences between a Cooper's and a Sharpie.  I watched a North Harrier take a black water snake right in front of me.  I froze because it happened so fast and didn't get the picture.  I luv this birding game.  Enjoy, I did!

Red-tailed Hawk

Northern Harrier

Northern Harrier

American Kestrel

Bald Eagle

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rails in Louisiana

While on a business trip to Louisiana I had the opportunity to do alittle birding.  I had great success.  Likely added 10 new species to my life list.  I'll group the photos over the next couple weeks with similar species.  I spent alot of time in the marshes surrounding Lake Pontratrain.  If you weren't aware LP is huge.  I drove across the lake on the causeway for 31 miles.  In the middle you can't see land...yikes.  There were ducks along the entire route.  Mostly Ring Necks, but I couldn't look too closely since the road was only two lanes wide and rather deep over the edge.  Today I'm posting Rails...I believe, although it is up for debate, that I was able to photograph three species of rails (and a Sora).  The Clapper, King, and the Virginia are very close in appearance, but each have subtle differences.  The Gulf Coast Clapper Rail has distinct differences from its Atlantic Cousin.  Clapper also prefer brackish while the King prefers fresh water.   Take a look and see what you think.  I know they all aren't the greatest pictures, these birds are characteristically elusive so I feel fortunate to even see a feather. 

Clapper Rail (much more buff then the King below)  Grand Isle, Louisiana

King Rail  (slightly larger and much more reddish) Fontainbleu State Park, Mandeville, Louisiana

Virginia Rail (slightly smaller then the Clapper) 
Fontainbleu State Park, Mandeville, Louisiana

Sora (seemed very territorial-lots of inter-species playground fightin!) 
I guess all that chatter was "fightin words"!
Bayou Savage-middle of nowhere Louisiana

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pink Footed, Barnacle, White Fronted Geese and an Cooper's Hawk

I took vacation this week and spent some time chasing around rare bird sightings.  I had great luck, but the pictures didn't come out that great.  In most cases, I was a good distance from the subject.  The Pink Footed Goose is a rarity for Massachusetts.  "They" claim there has only been 3 sightings of the goose during the last decade.  I've always wondered how "they" have so much variable expertise in every subject and how so many people know them.  Seems like everyone is always quoting them.  I digress.  

Pink Footed Goose

The Barnacle Goose was taken on Massachusetts Corrections property.  I should have known better, but we got the boot from the property.  I was still able to get a pretty good shot of the Barnacle Goose before getting the bootsky!  

Barnacle Goose

It took me 45 minutes to find the White Fronted in a flock (or is it a gaggle) of Canada Geese.  There were easily 100 CG and only one WFG.  The sun was also behind the geese too so it made it double trouble.  I was elated to finally find it.  However, just when I had him in the view finder a customer called me. AUGH!  Yes I know I'm on vacation, but customers needs come first always.   It took me another 15 minutes to find it again, but I got it.  

White-Fronted Goose

Lastly, I  stopped to take a picture of a hawk dining on a pigeon.  Pretty good pic, but unfortunately I can't tell the species.  I'm leaning toward a immature Coop, but it could also be an immature sharpie.  The legs were short.  Hope you like!   
Cooper's Hawk

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cooper's Hawk Rusty Blackbird, Green-winged Teal and a Ringneck Duck

I went on a South Shore Bird Club walk this morning looking for waterfowl on several large bodies of water immediately south of Boston.  Unfortunately large bodies of water do not promote great bird photography.  The daily list was excellent and I was fortunately able to get a few good pictures.  Great Pond in Randolph was loaded with Green Winged Teal, but there were also Red Headed Ducks, Lesser and Greater Scuaps, Common Goldeneye, Common Loon, Ring necked Duck and several other great species.  We went to a small pond in Stoughton, MA and I had my best luck for photos.  A Cooper's Hawk swooped over a neighbors feeder.  I was able to get close enough to see it land on a bird bath.  Great Photo! 

Then we were scanning the pond's edge and a Rusty Blackbird landed on the green grass.  Took me awhile to walk around the pond, but I got pretty close. 

This pond also contained 60 Ring necked ducks, a beautiful pair of Pintails, a few Ruddy Ducks and misc gulls.

Cooper's Hawk
Rusty Blackbird

Rusty Blackbird (in heavy molt)
Green winged Teal
Ring Necked Duck

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Coopers Hawk, American Pipit and Unknown Warbler

Another great day at Cumbies last Sunday.  A few more pictures to share.  The third one is potentially an Audubon Warber which is the Western version of the Yellow-rumped warbler a rare sitting for Massachusetts.  It is being confirmed by Wayne Peterson at Mass Audubon.  Will update when I know more.

Cooper's Hawk

 American Pipit

Here's the photographs of the unknown Warbler.  There are many different markings that have completely thrown me off course.  Clearly marked wing bars, yellow throat and belly, but white undertail.  Darker crown and white eye ring.  This time of year birds can have many odd coloration.  I'll report back once I get confirmation from Mass Audobon.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Warbles, Sparrows and Grosbeak

Birding week started with a class on Sparrows with the South Shore Bird Club.  The class was provided by Jim Sweeney.  The guy is brilliant, a great teacher and exceptionally knowledgable about sparrows.  Although I learned alot in the class, I still find sparrow identification to be daunting.

On Saturday morning  we met as a class to implement what we learned on Thursday.  Beautiful morning with blue sky and plenty of bird action.  Warblers, sparrows, raptors and gosbeaks were a plenty.  The Cumberland Farms property is a treasure trove for birding activity.  If you live in Massachusetts or Rhode Island the trip is well worth it. 

Blue Grosbeak

Palm Warbler

Savannah Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow