Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Photographing the UP: Skywatch Friday

For the past 2 days, my brother Eric and I have been birding and photographing in the UP. We have found over 90 species of birds and have seen 2 moose but we have not yet seen the three life birds that we were hoping for.

We've stayed near Munising and photographed almost all of the falls in this area. We'll be posting many pictures when we get home. Tonight we photographed the sunset from Miner's Beach at a small un-named falls that we happened to stumble upon. The sunset was amazing and our pictures were fantastic!

Tomorrow morning we will head for Grand Marais and the huge sand dunes in that region. Hopefully there will be many more great photos to come. This picture is one of my favorites from the sunset tonight!


Check out more great SkyWatch Posts here!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Heading to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Tomorrow I'll be heading to the upper peninsula of Michigan for some birding and photography with my brother Rob. We're hoping for quite a few different species, including a few birds that we can't get here in Indiana. Hopefully we'll have an update or two throughout the following week.
Here are a few more pics from out west:



Both of these pics are from Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Birding Adventures TV

There is finally a TV show that’s sole subject is birds and birding! The show is called Birding Adventures TV and is hosted by James Currie, a wildlife and birding guide, who will be leading viewers on birding adventures around the globe with a strong emphasis on conservation efforts. The show will air on Saturday mornings from 7:30am to 8:00am on the Fox Sport Network.

The first episode aired on July 18th and featured birding along the California coast and the Island Scrub-Jay. This week’s episode will take place in Guyana where James will search for the critically endangered Sun Parakeet. I have not had the opportunity to see the show yet but I plan to tune in the next time I am not out birding on a Saturday morning!

I will be sure to let everyone know more about the show after I have the opportunity to watch it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Back Home Again in Indiana: Watery Wednesday

Greetings from Carmel, Indiana

I have finally arrived back in Indiana after being gone for about two months. I spent about a month and a half in Wyoming then spent the next three weeks in California, Utah, and Colorado. There were countless bird highlights including Heerman's Gull, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Mountain Quail, and White-headed Woodpecker. Of course there were many more species, I had about 200 species after leaving Wyoming, but way to many to mention.

Here are some shots of Bridal Veil Falls in Yosemite National Park:



Check out more great Watery Wednesday Posts here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Happening on a Dusky Grouse: Bird Photography Weekly

Greetings from Estes Park, CO

I have been birding and photographing around Rocky Mountain National Park over the last couple days. We have had many good birds but the highlight so far has been finding a family of Dusky Grouse. My brother and I decided to hike to a falls which we never found but as we came around a turn in the trail the mom bolted up the trail. The young stayed still in the grasses beside the trail. I quickly changes from my small lens to my big lens and was able to snap a couple pictures before the young grouse decided that we weren't too much of a threat and headed up trail to find their mom. The whole family then headed down the trail in front of us. We decided not to follow so we wouldn't bother them too much.

Dusky Grouse chicks

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dawn Dish Soap: Helping to Save Marine Life

Dawn will soon start airing new commercials aimed at teaching people about the use of Dawn dish soap as a way to help birds and other wildlife that have been caught up in oil spills. For over 30 years, the International Bird Rescue and Research Center, one of the organizations that Dawn is now supporting, has been using Dawn to clean birds that have become covered in oil after spills.

Dawn has launched special packages of dish soap that have a code that can be entered online and for every code that is entered, Dawn will donate $1 to help save marine life. The donations will be split between IBRRC and the Marine Mammal Center. They will donate up to $500,000 so please, do your part and purchase Dawn. And don't forget to enter those codes by going to Dawn Saves Wildlife.

Visiting Arches National Park: SkyWatch Friday

Greetings from Moab, Utah

I have spent the last couple days exploring the hot deserts of Utah mostly in Arches National Park. Birds are somewhat scarce but we have seen many Black-throated Sparrows, a Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, and my first Canyon Wren after hearing this bird about 30 different times in the past. The landscape is very beautiful during the mornings and evenings and has been good for photography.


A desert canyon about an hour after sunrise.

After shooting the sunset I was driving out of the park and came upon this scene. These were the best clouds in the park this evening.

Pine Tree Arch. The sun really turns the rocks a nice red color during sunrise and sunset.

Outer Banks Sunrise: Watery Wednesday

The following photos were all taken on the last morning of my trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina last week. The whole family gets up very early to start the drive home since it is a least a 14 hour drive for everyone. While it can be hard to get up so early, the sunrise sure makes it a lot easier. While I was packing the car, my wife took these photos on the beach. Each photo is taken about 5 minutes apart showing how quickly a sunrise can change.

5:46am

5:51 am

5:57am

6:02am

Check out more great Watery Wednesday posts here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to do some birding at Pea Island NWR in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Having never been to this property, I was not sure what to expect, but it turns out that is it one of the best National Wildlife Refuges I have ever been to. After crossing the bridge to the island, the birds were everywhere. White Ibis and Tricolored Herons lined the roads and Black-necked Stilts flew overhead.

One of the first birds we saw in the Visitor Center parking lot was a Red-Winged Blackbird that had some sort of pigment disorder. The area right below his beak was a pale yellow color instead of black (see below). It was a sight that neither my wife or I had ever seen before! Later, after birding a couple of the trails, we saw a photo of this guy in the Visitor Center. He must be a local!

Red-winged Blackbird

We walked the main trail that was on a levee between two wetland-type units of the refuge called North Pond and New Field Pond. This area contained an amazing number of birds. Both ponds had numerous Great and Snowy Egrets, Tricolored Herons, and White Ibis. There were also some Little Blue Herons and Willets. While watching the Willets, two Marbled Godwits flew in and landed with them.

As we continued up the trail, I noticed a group of terns up ahead. After getting closer, I realized that it was a highly diverse group containing pretty much all of the expected species as well as a Black Skimmer. The final count of terns was 12 Royal, 2 Least, 1 Gull-billed, 2 Common, 2 Forester’s, and 3 Sandwich. After walking the rest of the trail with little else other than mosquitoes, we headed in to check out the visitor center. They have a great setup with a fantastic shop. They also have huge windows overlooking North Pond with Zeiss spotting scopes set up for everyone to view the birds in the ponds.

After checking out the visitor center, we headed farther down the road to where Roseate Spoonbills had been reported earlier in the week. Although I did see them briefly, we could not pull over due to the heavy Saturday beach traffic. While heading out of the property, I had an American Avocet fly over the road and saw an American Oystercatcher feeding in one of the ponds.

Overall, it was a great day exploring a new place. I will be heading back to Pea Island for a few hours tomorrow morning before the 12 hour drive home!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Yosemite Light - SkyWatch Friday

Greetings from Fish Camp, California

Although the skies have been pretty boring so far in California the light show is always good at Yosemite. Arriving early to any busy park is always the best way to go because you get to enjoy the park without the large crowds.

Yosemite Valley - The entire Yosemite Valley is filled with breathtaking
views many of which include beautiful waterfalls.

One of the many smaller falls in Yosemite. I'm not sure if this one has a
name but it is in a very interesting creek.


Same falls as above but a different perspective.

Check out more great SkyWatch Friday posts here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cali - Watery Wednesday

Greetings from Shelter Cove, California

After spending a few days in California my family and I arrived in Shelter Cove a couple days ago. The coast is amazing in the northern part of the state with many beaches, coves, and rocky coasts. I have seen many species of birds among the abundunt wildlife here in California. Here are a few pics from around here.


A tired Harbor Seal.



A black rock beach in the evening.

Driving through the Avenue of the Giants (the Redwoods).


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Nevada Desert: SkyWatch Friday

While driving to Reno, I decided to look for some birds near a reservoir in Nevada. The reservoir had lots of birds but was was a very difficult place to bird. I was able to find Black-throated Sparrows which I hadn't seen for about 4 or 5 years. It is one of my favorite sparrows and it was good to finally see it again. While I was there a storm rolled in and the clouds were very interesting. I hope I get some sweet skies like these while in California.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Heading to the Beach

This Friday, my wife and I will be making the long drive to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a family vacation. We’ve agreed to drive a longer distance on the first day than we usually do so I can go birding on Saturday before checking in to the rental house. We’ll drive all the way to Plymouth, North Carolina with no stops for birding, but then the real fun starts on Saturday. Our first stop will be Palmetto Peartree Preserve in an attempt to find my lifer Red-cockaded Woodpecker. The preserve has 20 nesting clusters and over 100 individual nests, which as I understand it is one of the highest concentrations of this species in North Carolina.

After Palmetto Peartree Preserve, we will head for the coast and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. This is a very large refuge located in the Outer Banks just south of the city of Nags Head. I am hoping to find many birds that I haven’t seen yet this year and possibly a lifer or two if I get really lucky. I have read that you can find Clapper Rails, a lifer for me, in the marshes at the property, but I know this can be a tricky species to find. Depending on the amount of time the first two stops take, we may make a quick stop at the Bodie Island Lighthouse to look around and check out the freshwater ponds located on that property.

We will then be spending the week at a beach house in the Corolla area. There aren’t that many places to bird up that way, but you never know what you can find on the beaches.

If anyone has any suggestions on other birding locations in the northern part of the Outer Banks, please let me know!

Here are a couple of pictures from last year's trip to the Outer Banks:

Sunrise in the Outer Banks

View of the marshes from the Corolla Lighthouse