Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Warblers, Warblers, Warblers in North Dakota

Greetings from Dickinson, ND

Canada Warbler-In Forest River south of Fargo. This area used to be a neighborhood until a big flood wiped out the area. Now the area is a great place for birds.

I headed up to Fargo on my days off after doing surveys in Sheyenne National Grassland. My hope was to find some warblers, especially the ones that I had missed in Indiana due to the late migration this year. I had birded in Fargo once before, last year, during migration and decided to head to the park that I visited last year. It didn't disappoint, I ended up seeing Canada and Golden-winged Warblers.

Philadelphia Vireo-In Sheyenned National Grassland woodlot.

I also hit another migrant trap in Fargo with good results. I ended up with great looks at a singing Golden-winged Warbler and a Bay-breasted Warbler. At the end of the day I had seen 22 species of warblers. With such good results I decided to stick around Fargo the next day but did not have as good a day.

Magnolia Warbler-A beautiful male in Sheyenne National Grassland.

After my time in Fargo I headed back to Sheyenne to finish up my surveys in the grasslands. But my first day back I got rained out so I ended up birding some woodlots and Tewaukon National Wildlife Refuge. The birding was great throughout the day. I started out at Tewaukon in the late morning and birded a couple of wooded areas. Who would guess that in a small woodlot along some random lake in southeastern North Dakota there would be tons of birds? I ended up with 14 warbler species but the highlights were Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Phily Vireo, and Scarlet Tanager.

The beautiful Scarlet Tanager.

The next day I was able to complete a survey where I had a Nelson's Sparrow and a Redhead nest. Since it was a Sunday and everything is closed in small towns on Sundays I birded one of the woodlots that had been good in the past. It turned out to be spectacular. The highlights were a singing Connecticut and a Mourning Warbler. There were lots of Magnolia and Chestnut-sided in the woodlot as well. Eventually, I figured it was time to drive up the road to where my survey for the next day was located. So I took one last walk through the woodlot and saw, a somewhat unusual species for North Dakota, a female Black-throated Blue Warbler.

Can you find the bird? Can you tell the species?
Hint-its a warbler


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sheyenne National Grassland

I spent a couple of days in Sheyenne National Grassland doing surveys and birding on my own. The bird diversity in the grassland and surrounding area is unbelievable. Many habitat types are easily accessible in a very short drive from marsh to grassland to woodland. In a day of casual birding including doing a survey I had over 100 species. If you have never birded in North Dakota I would highly recommend making a visit.

Upland Sandpiper: One of the common birds in the grasslands.

Bobolink: Another common species of the prairie.

Blackburnian Warbler: If you get tired of the grassland/marsh birding you can quickly access some patches of forest and see warblers like this Blackburnian.

In my opinion the star of the marsh-an American Bittern

The same American Bittern hunting on the edge of the marsh.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

North and South Dakota

I have spent the last week mostly in South Dakota but just arrived in North Dakota today. From Monday-Thursday I camped in Custer State Park. After a few days of training in Custer State Park for the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory I headed to Wyoming for one morning to help a couple people get the RMBO bird survey protocol down. That survey went well with many Brewer's Sparrows, a Loggerhead Shrike, and a Sage Sparrow. On Friday afternoon, another field tech and I drove to Lemmon, SD so she could shadow me on a survey. It turned out to be pretty windy but we were able to get some good birds including a few Sprague's Pipits and lots of Chestnut-collared Longspurs.

Golden Eagle-One of the species found during training.

Chestnut-collared Longspur-One of my favorite dakota grassland birds.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Biggest Week Day 2

Today was our second of three days on the boardwalk at Magee Marsh. Birds were much more plentiful this morning, and many species were very cooperative for photography. We started out much earlier this morning and arrived on the boardwalk just after 7. There were warblers everywhere, and we quickly added quite a few more species to our list from yesterday. Over the course of the day our list for the trip grew to 108.

Below are a few of my favorite shots from the day.


Chestnut-sided Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

Black-crowned Night-Heron

American Redstart


Monday, May 9, 2011

Biggest Week in American Birding

After work yesterday, my wife and I picked up my mom and headed up to Port Clinton to meet up with some friends for 3 days of birding in the Magee Marsh region of NW Ohio. It took us forever to get up here and we actually did not arrive until after midnight. We decided not to make it to the boardwalk at sunrise but instead to sleep in a little bit and head to Magee around 8.

When we arrived, we found the parking lot packed as expected due to the fact that we are here during the Biggest Week in American Birding. This is a very well attended festival and we saw license plates from all over the county including Alaska! There were a lot of people out birding but the boardwalk was far from the most crowded I have ever seen it.

It was not the best day for migrants but we were able to see 19 warbler species and ended the day with 86 species. The highlight of the day for me was seeing the Tricolored Heron at Metzger Marsh. This was the first time that I have ever seen one away from the ocean!

It was also fun to see some of my Ohio birding friends that I had not seen for awhile. I also met Dawn Fine, who I have been friends with on Facebook but had never had the chance to meet!

The following are a few of my favorite photos that my wife took while we were on the boardwalk today!

Eastern Screech-Owl

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Will I be seeing any of you on the boardwalk in the morning?


Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring Festival and the Hunt for a Gargany

May is already off to a fast start and there is no slowing down in sight! This past weekend was the Indiana Audubon Society's Spring Festival at Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary in Connersville, Indiana. We had about 75 people come out for the event. I led bird hikes on both Saturday and Sunday morning and found many good birds! Some of the highlights were Blackpoll, Cerulean, Hooded, and Kentucky Warblers, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Over the course of the weekend, about 100 species were seen!

Rose-breasted Grosbeak - Photo by Stephanie Ripma

On Friday, a Gargany was reported in Cincinnati, not too far from Indianapolis. Since I was at the festival all weekend, today was the first chance I had to chase the bird. My birding friends Ted, Cindy, and Landon joined me for the hunt. Since I had to work this morning, we were not able to leave until 2pm and finally arrived at Fernald Preserve at 4:15. It was raining when we got there but we were hopefully due to a group of birders that we could see from the parking area that appeared to be looking at something in the pond. when we reached the birders, we found out that the Gargany had been seen 15 minutes prior to our arrival but had since disappeared into the reeds.

Over the next 1.5 hours, we searched for the bird in the rain mainly looking in the place that it had last been seen. Landon decided that he was going to put on some knee high rubber boots and head off around the marsh to see if he could find the bird from another angle. Soon after he headed out, a ton of birds flushed and we all scrambled to get on as many birds in flight as we could. As I followed two Blue-winged Teal another bird burst into my binocular view. I only had about five seconds to view the bird but it was clearly the Gargany.

Unfortunately, none of the others were able to get on the bird. Landon had turned around and was looking at a group of shorebirds and even though he was responsible for having originally flushed the bird, he never did get to see it. I do not know whether the bird landed somewhere out of sight or if it flew on to another pond somewhere on the property.

Now onto more May birding and a trip to Magee Marsh next week!