May 21, 2008

Birdathon 2008

Sorry this is late. On May 17 Jay McGowan and I participated in the Onondaga Audubon Society's annual Birdathon. I had done practically no scouting this year and both of us were relatively underprepared and tired. However, the weather was very cooperative and we had an amazing run of birds. We started at Hamlin Marsh at about 12:30 AM and got both Virginia Rail and Sora. Woodcock, Great Horned and Barred Owls were calling near Peter Scott Swamp in the early morning hours. Just after dawn we arrived at Whiskey Hollow where we had ACADIAN FLYCATCHER, warblers and other woodland birds. Great Bear had many (at least seven!) Tennessee Warblers as well as singing Mourning Warbler and a pure GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER. We spent half an hour at the Oswego County Airport looking for Upland Sandpiper and Grasshopper Sparrow without luck. At Sithe, Sunset and Noyse we continued to pick up warblers and other migrants but at Derby Hill we had some of our best luck of the day including great looks at a beautiful male CAPE MAY WARBLER on the bluff, Purple Martins on their box, migrating hawks and eagles overhead, Common Merganser and Long-tailed Ducks on the lake. Black Terns were out in numbers at Pine Grove but Oswego Harbor was pretty much empty in the rain. We picked up a handful of shorebirds during the afternoon, then headed towards Oneida Lake. It was a pleasant evening and we spent a good deal of time scoping distant waterfowl off Phillips Point. The light finally improved for us to make out a single RUDDY DUCK, several BLACK SCOTERS and a Bufflehead in with a small flock of (presumably) Greater Scaup. Probably our best bird of the day was a singing SEDGE WREN in the marsh off McLoud Road. We finished up north of Constantia with Hermit Thrush, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Whip-poor-wills. It was a long and kind of grueling day at times (mostly because of our lack of sleep) but we came up with 145 species; a new team high (our previous best was 136)! We traveled 320 miles and were "in the field" for 21 hours. I also added eighteen new birds to my year list, bringing my total up to 263.

May 16, 2008

Mid-May Recap

So I just wanted to give you all a quick update on things here. Last weekend GBT played at the Lake Eden Arts Festival in Black Mountain, NC. It was amazing. So much great music: Habib Koite and Corey Harris were highlights for us but really the whole festival was wonderful. Not to mention the swimming! Anyway, we got back on Monday night and since then we've been, you guessed it, busy with wedding details. But we're coming pretty good. Picked up my suit yesterday. Favors are almost done. We're mostly on schedule. Still haven't started in on the programs yet but we'll get there. Tomorrow, Jay McGowan and I will be doing Birdathon again. I'm really looking forward to it. Not sure how competitive we can be since I haven't been able to scout at all. But our route has served us relatively well in the past so as long as we can stay awake we should be okay. Last night Sarah and I went with some friends to see the midnight showing of Prince Caspian. First off, I don't really remember very much of the book so my opinion isn't terriblely valid. But I really enjoyed it for the most part. Fun movie, good story, decent acting. And those cougar/eagle things are awesome (Sarah tells me they're griffins). So that's what's up. I'll try and post again next week with Birdathon results. I'm afraid we're going to get pretty wet...

May 07, 2008

Hiking in NC

Noah and I were able to do a little hiking yesterday and today. The weather has been wonderful down here. We did a little bit of the Mountains-To-Sea Trail near the Blue Ridge Parkway and hiked along the eastern continental divide southeast of Asheville. What a beautiful part of the world!

May 06, 2008

Whitewater Whirl

Hello and happy May! I'm in North Carolina right now and am enjoying a very relaxing afternoon. Last weekend we played at Whitewater Whirl in West Virginia and had a fantastic time. Beautiful location, wonderful weather, great friends, good hall, sound and food. What more can you ask for? Here are some pics...

A bunch of friends; several of whom I remember the names of...Announcements always take so long at dance weekendsTravis and Loretta - always great to see you. I'm so excited you'll be coming to the party! Thanks for the burgers. The New River Gorge
Over the weekend I had a couple brief opportunities to get out birding with Frank Clayton. On Sunday morning we hiked along the New River Gorge for a couple hours looking for southern warblers. On our way in we heard a distant SWAINSON'S WARBLER (Life Bird) but I really wanted a look at the bird before I added it to my list. It wasn't easy. We stalked it for a long time through think brush (mostly rhododendron), often on hands and knees trying to get a look. Several times we got extremely close but the bird would fly to a different area before we could get on it. Finally we did end up getting some decent looks at the bird, singing and foraging on the ground. It was subtly beautiful and totally unique looking bird; worth every bit of the effort. I wasn't able to get any photos but you can find out more about this secretive species here.