February 28, 2011

Europe Part II: Vienna

After visiting Peter's family in Murzzuschlag, Gabi, Sarah and I went on to Vienna. It was bitterly cold but we had a wonderful time. Seeing St Stephen's Cathedral (or as Gabi called it Stephansdom) was one of the only times that a building literally took my breath awayA view of Vienna from the "top" of the steepleWe also visited the Hofburg; the former imperial residence and political center of the Austrian monarchySaw some cool stuff that we couldn't take pictures of; the Empress Sisi museum and the Lippazaner stables for instance. The whole experience was pretty wild. Here's Gabi and Sarah in front of the HofburgThis dude looks seriously worriedMore pics...Possibly the most surreal moment of the trip: eating sushi in Vienna while listening to a VERY cheesy classical guitar play Jambalaya and House of the Rising Sun

February 21, 2011

Europe Part I: Munich & Salzburg

Hello there folks. Sarah and I are almost done now with our trip to Europe. And I've got quite a pile of pics I've been waiting to upload. So I'll start at the beginning. We arrived in Munich on February 17. Took us a little while to get over the jet lag; we mainly just crashed at our hotel room and did a little birding in the English Garden (more on that later of course). The next day we went to the Nymphenburg Palace... Now I know mid-winter probably isn't the best time of year to visit but it was still spectacular. We did lots of walking. Also, their subway system is pretty awesome. This is me, somewhere on the palace grounds...We met Gabi and Peter in Salzburg on Saturday. It's been great to see them again. We first met Gabi back in highschool. She was a foreign exchange student and lived with the Zieglers for six months or so. And she's been back to visit us a bunch of times. So the main purpose of our trip was to visit her! Salzburg was wonderful of course. Beautiful, old city. We visited the house where Mozart was born. And this crazy science museum. But the real highlight for me was seeing this awesome castle overlooking the city...
Gabi and Peter in the courtyardA view of the city from the castleAnd some other pics... here's Gabi with Austria's most widely-recognized marsupial... Peter, Gabi and me I've got lots more but the internet is being kind of slow right now. So I'll post again soon...

February 10, 2011

"Rawr!" preview


The Great Bear Trio's highly-anticipated, all new, all-instrumental, epic contra dance album...

Rawr! (GBR CD006)

Andrew VanNorstrand: fiddle, acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, bass
Noah VanNorstrand: fiddle, mandolin, didgeridoo, drums and percussion
Kim "Mama Bear" Yerton: piano


Nils Fredland: trombone
Chris Miller: tenor and baritone saxophones

1. Cosmic Tim
2. The Gardener
3. Mr. Plow
4. Weedwalker / Winchell's Falls
5. Jay's Daze
6. The Carry On
7. Kim's Jig / New Room
8. Drima
9. Le Tuna de Sandwich
10. Lake City / Monarch
11. Benton's Hallucinations

February 04, 2011

Count down to #600

And while I'm in a birding mood, this is an update on my North American Life List. I'm currently at #550 so here's my "count down" to #600...
  1. Bullock's Oriole
  2. Ash-throated Flycatcher
  3. Fulvous Whistling-Duck
  4. Bell's Vireo
  5. Abert's Towhee
  6. Calliope Hummingbird
  7. Hammond's Flycatcher
  8. Lesser Nighthawk
  9. Scott's Oriole
  10. Tropical Kingbird
  11. Zone-tailed Hawk
  12. Blue-throated Hummingbird
  13. Gilded Flicker
  14. Dusky Flycatcher
  15. Scaled Quail
  16. Short-tailed Hawk
  17. Cordilleran Flycatcher
  18. Gray Kingbird
  19. Hepatic Tanager
  20. Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  21. Connecticut Warbler
  22. Cassin's Sparrow
  23. Pinyon Jay
  24. Red-faced Warbler
  25. Elegant Trogon
  26. Lark Bunting
  27. Le Conte's Sparrow
  28. Common Poorwill
  29. Gray Flycatcher
  30. Virginia's Warbler
  31. Elf Owl
  32. Black-chinned Sparrow
  33. Ringed Kingfisher
  34. Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher
  35. Northern Pygmy-Owl
  36. Sharp-tailed Grouse
  37. White-eared Hummingbird
  38. Sprague's Pipit
  39. Botteri's Sparrow
  40. Varied Bunting
  41. Greater Shearwater
  42. Kirtland's Warbler
  43. Long-tailed Jaeger
  44. Cory's Shearwater
  45. Audubon's Shearwater
  46. Black Rail
  47. Yellow Rail
  48. Mangrove Cuckoo
  49. Bicknell's Thrush
  50. Black-capped Petrel
These, barring any real rarities, are the most likely new species that I'll see in the ABA area (basically North America north of Mexico). There's a handful of common western species (like Bullock's Oriole, Bell's Vireo, Hammond's Flycatcher), a few Arizona specialties (Elegant Trogan, Red-faced Warbler, some hummingbirds), a few Florida specialties (Short-tailed Hawk, Mangrove Cuckoo, Gray Kingbird and Black-whiskered Vireo), a few Texas birds (Ringed Kingfisher and others), a bunch of random not-that-rare western-ish-type stuff (Lark Bunting, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Pinyon Jay, Le Conte's Sparrow, many more), some Atlantic seabirds (Greater, Cory's and Audubon's Shearwaters), some tricky eastern species (Connecticut Warbler, Bicknell's Thrush) and 20 or so others, mostly western and/or pelagic birds. I'm hoping for about 20 new birds this year and maybe I'll make #600 in 2012 or 2013. Click here to view my life list.

February 02, 2011

Hoary Redpoll pics

This afternoon I spent some time with the redpolls at Beaver Lake Nature Center near Baldwinsville, NY. There were roughly 30 Common Redpolls and in with them was this female HOARY REDPOLLFemale Hoary Redpoll, upper right birdCheck out those undertail coverts!Now here's another female redpoll that I watched for a while...I first noticed it when it was the only female redpoll around and it looked promisingI should mention it DID NOT look this pale to me in real life. The photos make it look much frostier than it appeared to me at the timeA shot of the undertail coverts. Clearly a different individual than the "real" female HoaryFemale redpoll in question on the right, male Common Redpoll on the left. Doesn't stand out so much in this lighting. This is more what it looked like to me through binocularsNot sure what I think about this bird. The bill / head shape don't really stand out to me. I was never able to reliably pick it out once the flock returned. Like I said before, the photos look more like a Hoary than the bird did. On the other hand, the clean white rump and very limited undertail streaking seem good for Hoary. Send me an email if you have any thoughts. I have very limited experience with this plumage. Here's a final shot...