Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Warbler of Maine

First I will list there name where they were first seen and then if it was a life or year bird, or neither.

Yellow Warbler- Cape May, New Jersey- neither

Yellow-rumped Warbler- Bangor City Woods, Maine- neither

Tennessee Warbler- Glassboro Woods, New Jersey- life bird

Blue-winged Warbler- some back road in New Hampshire- life bird

Black-throated Green Warbler- Bangor City Woods, Maine- life bird

Black-throated Blue Warbler- Bangor City Woods, Maine- life bird

Prothonotary Warbler- Glassboro Woods, New Jersey- life bird

Wilson's Warbler- Bangor City Woods, Maine- neither

Canada Warbler- Bangor City Woods, Maine- life bird

Worm-eating Warbler- Glassboro Woods, New Jersey- neither

Yellow-breasted Chat- Cape May, New Jersey- neither

Chestnut-sided Warbler- Acadia National Park, Maine- life bird 

Black-and-White Warbler- Bangor City Woods, Maine- year bird

Palm Warbler- Bangor City Woods, Maine- life bird

Northern Waterthrush- Driving by a random bog in Maine, neither

Louisiana Waterthrush- Beach Pond State Park, Rhode Island- year bird

Magnolia Warbler- Bangor City Woods, Maine- life bird

Cerulean Warbler- unknown state park, New Jersey- life bird

Nashville Warbler- Bangor City Woods, Maine- year bird

Northern Parula- Bangor City Woods, Maine- neither

Blackburnian Warbler- Bangor City Woods, Maine- year bird

Pine Warbler- Jake's Landing, Maine- year bird

Prairie Warbler- Jake's Landing, Maine- life bird

Yellow-throated Warbler- Jake's Landing Maine- year bird

Ovenbird- Glassboro Woods, New Jersey- year bird

Common Yellowthroat- Glassboro Woods, New Jersey- neither

American Redstart- Acadia National Park, Maine- life bird

Recommended Places to bird:
Jake's Landing
Bangor City Woods
Machias Seal Island
Acadia National Park
Cape May

American Redstart, Acadia National Park, Maine

Thanks for reading and good luck birding
Skyler Bol
Ft. Collins , CO

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Salida and Steamboat Colorado, year birds and more

       About 1 week ago our family decided to go down to Salida, Colorado on the Arkansas River. Although the main purpose for the trip was not birding it turned out to have two life birds for me. At the first birding location, Centennial Cemetery (near Buena Vista), we located a nest of Lewis's Woodpeckers, life bird #484. After observing this odd and I guess unique woodpecker for 30 or so minutes we traveled on to Ice Pond.  Besides a few Yellow-headed Blackbirds and 3 more Lewis's Woodpeckers no interesting birds were found. So we drove back to our friend's house. As the trip went on no other birds were found, until the very last 3 hours of our trip. As some of you may know, my dad is a photographer, so on our way out we stopped at a local skatepark surrounded by a forest of Pinyon Pines. As my dad shot pictures of a skateboarder doing tricks out on a half pipe I wandered off into the forest in search of the unpredictable Pinyon Jay. When the game trail I walked on curved to the left a blue bird flew out in front of me giving a call almost unmistakable. I had found what I was looking for. A Pinyon Jay sat 10 feet in front of me giving its noisy call as a group of 5 or so joined him a few trees away, score #485. Two life birds in one day in Colorado!

Steamboat Springs
     At 10:00 A.M. June 26, 2012 my mom and I left for Steamboat Springs, CO (going the route north of the High Park Fire burn zone through Laramie, Wyoming).This three hour drive goes right through the heart of the shrub lands, and the Rocky Mountains through North Park. It is surrounded on both sides by either coniferous forest of the high mountains or grassy shrub lands of southern Wyoming and North Park. A small town named Walden lies right in the center of North Park and is surrounded by both large lakes and tall grass and sage brush. As a small diversion we visited one such lake, known as Lake John. As we drove the winding road out to the reservoir we passed an irrigation ditch with two large chicken-like birds sulking in the grass, Greater Sage-Grouse quickly shot out of my mouth and the car came screeching to a stop giving us a view of a male and female Greater Sage Grouse, score year bird #390! As the trip progressed no other birds where found except a very anticlimactic Hammond's Flycatcher and a Red-naped Sapsucker.

The solution to the photo quiz: Lazuli x Indigo Bunting hybrid

Thank's for reading
Skyler Bol
Ft. Collins, CO

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Back from Maine with 26 Warblers!

After an amazing trip filled with memorable moments we traveled to: two countries, 10 states and 1 providence. We traveled over 2,000 miles and saw 198 birds. My Year list is now 389 and I am going to Arizona in late July for summer Mexican migrants. My life list soared to 485 and I am way over my schedule. I hope that birding is going well in the rest of the country for my followers and that one day you might be able to do a big year of your own! 
On another note earlier tonight I observed a group of 50+ Barn Swallows fly just over my house in a giant flock. All the birds flew in unison and gave Barn Swallow calls. It was also just before rain started to come down and thunder and lightning were going as they did this behavior. To me this seemed a little odd, any ideas? 

Thanks for reading!
Skyler Bol
Ft. Collins CO                               pics below from trip

Machias Seal Island, Canada
Atlantic Puffin (life bird)
Razorbill (also a life bird)
Black Skimmer, Cape May New Jersey
Forester's Tern (same location)
Also seen:
Black Bear
White-tailed Deer
Harbor Porpoise
Gray Seal
Harbor Seal

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chico Days, a sucsess!

I would like to start out by thanking all of the wonderful people who donated their time to band birds at Chico Basin all around the country. I truly wish that I could do that every day of my life.  I got the experience of taking a Swainson's Thrush from the net and letting it go, and watching it fly through the forest with agility matched by no other animal. I also got to do the "run" and carry the birds in little bags as shown below.

Blue bag: Lazuli Bunting
Orange/Brown bag at bottom: Bullock's Oriole
Other bags: Swainson's Thrushes and Gray Catbirds
Although many great birds were found here, this was definately the rarest.
Worm-eating Warbler
My list is now at 305 and we are heading to New Jersey up to Maine for 8 days in about 1 week, the day after schools gets out! Before I end this post I have a bird identification challenge for all of the birders who read my blog. Here is the picture from Chico. Take a guess at what this is in the comment section below (hint, hint, it is not what you think it is)

any guesses?
Have fun birding!
Skyler Bol
Ft. Collins, CO
birds: 305

Friday, May 11, 2012

Update: I am at 280 birds and it is May 11. This weekend I am going down to Chico Basin Ranch for rare warblers. Some of my most recent birds have been a Northern Parula at Sean Walters house (thanks Sean), and a Least Flycatcher at Norma's Grove out in the Pawnee National Grasslands. Our next trip will be to the northeast flying into Philidelphia ad birding southern New Jersey on June second. I WILL post what birds we see at Chico Basin Ranch. I also just had a day last weekend with 100 birds to. I might do a blog post for that too. Skyler

Monday, April 16, 2012

Big Day records shatered

              The next stop in our California trip was San Francisco where we stayed at a friend's house and went to a birding location 1 mile from her house called Heather Farms Park. Here the only bird we got that we didn't see the rest of the trip was a Red-breasted Sapsucker (an awesome life bird). On our last day in San Fran we woke up at 7:00, had a nice birding session at Heather Farms and then casually found our way to Point Reyes. We were unaware that our biggest day of birding ever lay in front of us.  As we puttered along, we passed the Golden Gate Bridge which turned out to be a wonderful back drop for an amazing life bird, Western Gull.
Gulls are one of my favorite species of birds because they are a challenge to even some of the best experts.  I was turned on to the wonder of gulls by local gull expert Nick Komar.
             At our next stop, our campground, we located a Fox Sparrow an a Hermit Thrush. We then continued on and found 3 species of loon (RT, C, P loons), Godwits, Black Oystercatcher, 2 Scoter (WW and S scoters), Greater Scaup, and White-tail Kite all in Tomales Bay. As we made our way to the light house we located all falcon species commonly found in North America except the Gyrfalcon. This was amazing finding all of these falcons, especially the many Peregrine Falcons on the sea shore. Other birds at the light house were; Brant, Glaucous Gull, Thayer's Gull, Pigeon Guillemot, and DC, B, and P cormorants. 
                  At a local trail head we also located GIANT ELEPHANT SEALS, a Chipping Sparrow, and 1 American Pipit. this ended the day section of the birding and opened up a whole new type of birding, owling. After a failed attempt at a nearby campground we came back to our KOA and found my life Saw-Whet Owl and a wonderful pair of Great-horned Owls. With these two birds our final  number was 120 in one day! That beat our old score in Texas by 20 birds! What a great day! Here are some pics from the day.
Brant in Bodega Bay sitting in a rainstorm like the rest of the birds

Common Loon

young Snowy Egret

Surf Scoter
Just as a side note I hope that all of you, my readers, have the chance to see an elephant seal, what a cool animal!

Skyler Bol
Good luck birding

P.S. Thank Christian Nunes for the free membership to WFO for young birds!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Photos from Colusa

Here are some of the birds we got pics of at Colusa National Wildlife Refuge in California:

American Bittern, one of the 6 we saw that day!
Northern Pintail

Finally a White-faced Ibis. Does anyone know why birds such as ibis and small grebes have red eyes?

Have fun birding and getting outside. I also got 2 new year birds today, Barrow's Goldeneye at Fossil Creek Reservoir and a Franklin's Gull found by Cole Wild at Ketcher Pit.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Trip summation, then some more!

As the sun sets over the hot Front Range of Southern Colorado I realize I am half way to my goal of 400 birds this year with an amazing returning number of 253 birds. Sorry for not posting forever but we have had no internet access for the whole rest of the trip. In the end we took a detour to Tucson, Arizona and also scored there. In one week we traveled 3000 miles and 226 birds. I have decided to do a post every night for our trip until I have reached the current time. Once again sorry about the inconvenience. I hope all of the people reading this blog have seen good birds to and also had a good Saint Patties Day.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

89 on our first day

Yesterday at 4:30 AM we got up and left Denver Airport at 8:00 AM. We arved in Reno and the birding was on! After the first five minutes we had 17 bird species and weren't even into California. Our next stop was Donner Lake where we located 3 new birds; Golden-crowned Kinglet, a life bird, Williamson's Sapsucker, and Lesser Goldfinch. Now in the 70 degree heat of the Sierra Mountains we moved on to central valley and Sacramento, the Capitol of California. Colusa NWR was the place to be. Here was where all the birds where. We saw:
4 Black Phoebes
6 American Bittern
120 Greater White-fronted Goose
8 Savannah Sparrows
20 Black-necked Stilt
49 Great Egrets
54 Black-crowned Night-Heron
5 Snowy Egret
1 Lincoln's Sparrow
15 White-faced Ibis
6 Turkey Vultures
12 Brown-headed Cowbirds
2 Barn Swallows
16 Tree Swallows
25 Marsh Wrens
30 Long-billed Dowitcher
2 Least Sandpiper (life bird)
1 Dunlin (life bird)
3 Lesser Yellowlegs
2 Common Moorhens
3 Ring-necked Pheasant
1 Loggerhead Shrike
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
1 California Towhee (life bird)
2 Nuttal's Woodpecker (life bird)
1 House Wren
California birding is some of the best birding I have ever seen. I hope that you can visit this wonderful birding destination.
Skyler Bol

Friday, March 9, 2012

Condor Count in California?

Today I was sitting reading my bird book and thought, "what are the regulations for counting the California Condor". I have seen these birds in the Grand Canyon before, actually 3 (2 adults, and 1 juv.). Can any Condors be counted?
Also in the world or rarities a COMMON SNIPE just showed up in the mountains of Colorado and it has to show up right when we are leaving for California. Hopefully we will be able to get this bird when we come back. We will try for the Tufted Duck in Oakland. Here is our scedual for California (it will probably change a lot in the corse of the trip):
March 10- fly into Reno Nevada bird there a little then drive to San Fransico
March 11-12- stay in San Fansico and bird and visit friends
March 13- Point Reyes and Bodega Bay
March 14- head down to southern Cal. for the rest of the trip.
Thanks for any help given.
Skyler Bol 116

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sunday Boulder Birding

"Was that a Peregrine Falcon?", that sentence will always be stuck in my mind as a birding day of 73 species came to an end, only 1 mile away from my house in the middle of suburbia. That was only the second Peregrine that I had ever seen in my 1 1/2 years of birding.

As I woke up at 7:00 in the morning my dad said there was some Evening Grosbeaks in a small town in the mountains (Boulder County) called Allenspark. "Why not, that could be a good year bird", I thought. So we drove, drove until we found a local reservoir (Ryan's Gulch Res.) covered in a sea of migrating birds. We quickly diverted to a neighborhood right on the reservoir edge. As I scanned in the scope for any new birds a beautiful Greater White-fronted Goose swam through the scope almost the exact same time my dad said, "I got a white goose on the opposite shore". I quickly diverted my scope making sure to tell my parents where the GWF Goose was. Sure enough it turned out to be a Ross's Goose, a bird that we already had seen this year. As the hour wore on two tiny ducks flew in eluding my parents view and flying onto the ice about 30 feet away. As it turned out, both birds were Cinnamon Teal, a great new year bird.

With 32 birds and 2 new year birds we headed to Allenspark where we were able to photograph the two new year birds as shown below with this beautiful Clark's Nutcracker.
Clark's Nutcracker in Allenspark, CO

Cassin's Finch in Allenspark, CO

Evening Grosbeak Allenspark
After our mountain trip and a list of 52 bird, back in Ft. Collins we decided to head east. The only other new bird I got was a Say's Phoebe at the south end of Timnath Reservior. Thanks to everybody who helped me on that day.

Once again I am face with the lack of diversity in Colorado so this weekend (spring break) we are, as planned, going to go to California for a week and score on all the wonderful birds in all of California. Hopefully we will make it over 200. We will hit all of California from Point Reyes south to the Salton Sea and I am excited because I have only been there once when I was six and not birding. Hopefully I will score!
Skyler Bol

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Last Weekend's Mountain Trip

Sorry for such a late post but we have been so busy that I haven't had time to post. Anyway, last weekend my whole family made the 2 hour drive up to Cameron Pass where the Moose Visitor Center lies tucked into the snow covered white forest. In search of Pine Grosbeaks and Rosy-finches, we did not turn up empty handed. We arrived there at about one o'clock just as a flock of about 150 Gray-crowned  and 2 Brown-capped Rosy-finches landed in a nearby spruce tree and on the center's bird feeders. The common Gray-crowned Rosy Finch was  a new bird for my year list.
Grey-Crowned Rosy Finch at the Moose Visitor's Center near Cameron Pass in Colorado

Soon after a large gang of bullying Pine Grosbeaks came in and stold the show. After our final count of this new year bird our number was 16. This bird I think is truly one of Colorado's mountain gems.
Male Pine Grosbeak at the Moose Visitor Center

After getting a quick look at a White-throated Sparrow, a first county record for Jackson County, we headed to North Park to find some grouse. Sadly no grouse showed but this Rough-legged Hawk sat out the 60 mph wind on a  large bulky fence post.
Rough Legged Hawk at the Arapahoe National Wildlife Refuge
Good luck birding!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

4 new birds in one day!?

Today my dad and I decided to go to Pawnee National Grasslands. Here we found 4 new birds. These included: a Red-bellied Woodpecker ( very rare for Colorado), a juvenile Ferrugenous Hawk, 2 Rough-legged Hawks, and 3 Northern Shrikes. These were all new for my year list. My list s now at 107 and California is only a few weeks away and if anybody has any recomendations fOr there we will greatly appreciate them. We will also be stopping at Bosque Del Apache to see all of the birds there. Once again any info is appreciated. I am not sure but my Life List might break 500 this year, if so. . . wow, amazing.
Skyler Bol

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What s up with all the Northern birds!?

This morning my mom and I headed over to a house about 25 minutes out to the Northeast. If you read my last post I talked a little about this place. I had never been to Steve and Kathy's house, it was birders heaven! Their house is completely surrounded by a coniferous forest with some cottonwood trees by their house. The crazy thing is that it used to be a giant corn field and they planted all the trees there. To me when I get my own house I hope I can buy property and also do that. After 5 minutes (we hadn't even made it to the house) a Varied Trush (101) flew over our heads and landed into a tree. AMAZING This was the second Varied Thrush I had even seen,the orange slash over its eye contrasting to the black body color. After passing the Mountain and Black-capped Chickadees we moved to the Sparrows in the back.
Tree, Song, White-crowned, and House Sparrows along with Juncos, Finches (gold and house), and a Kestrel all visited the feeder. "Hay Kathy that is the Sparrow" I chimmed into my mom's conversation about mist nets with her, they all turned their heads to the millet outside where a beautiful White-throated Sparrow (102) hopped around. Two new birds at one house, amazing.
Skyler Bol
Ft. Collins CO

Longspur Luck

Yesterday my mom and I headed out to Fossil Creek Reservior where a Long-tailed Duck has been reported by a local birder friend of ours. Once we got there the reservior was suprisingly open, even though it hadn't gotten above 17 degrees all day. In the end we did not find the arctic traveler but got multiple good birds. Such included 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and a Western Grebe, a new bird, with a scruffy black eye, a giraffe's long neck, and a piercing ruby red eye that when it looked at you you felt like you would turn to stone.

As the morning roled a long we headed out to Timnath Reservoir to see a Barrow's Goleneye and any prairie bird that might be new for my year list. As we drove the road out to the reservoir on the south side a flock of at least 100+ Larks flew in (trying to aviod a Harrier coming down the road) and landed 30 feet out in a harvested corn field. Why not scope them we both agreed, so I hopped out of the car now at 11 degrees and started to scope the larks as snow crystals landed on my rosy-red cheecks. Lark..1,5,9.."9 more larks mom"... Is that a longspur... Yeah hay mommmmmmmm, the bird flew off with all the other larks, thanks harrier. In the flock of 100 or more larks was one (still winter plumage) Laplands Longspur. Most of the reservior was frozen and what little water it had was barren with a few Readheads and COMMON Goldeneye.

That night as I was checking over my year list I realized something, Laplands Longspur was number 100, cool! Today my mom and I might try for #101 and #102 at a local house where a Varied Thrush and also a White-crowned sparrow have been visiting. Hope we get this one.

I am very excited for Spring break, this march. I hope California turns out to be the holy grail we have heard it can be.

Happy Valentines Day
Skyler Bol
Ft. Collins CO

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A day from the spring,and the winter

Yesturday my mom and I headed to Valmont Reservoir. We got multiple birds including:
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 1 (audubon's that was giving its "chit" like call. This bird was originally found by the Boulder Bird Club.)
Red-breasted Merganser - 16 (the most beautiful rusty brown hash marks in its chest that I've ever seen. Combined with the striking ruby-red eye on the evergreen-colored head, wow!)
Pied-billed Grebe - 7 (it was crazy counting this bird like," oh there is just another Ped-billed Grebe, a summer bird in our home town.)
Tundra Swan - 1 (We saw both Tundra, at Valmont Res., and a Trumpeter Swan, at Cattail Pond, that day.)
Eared Grebe - 1 (It was interesting finally seeing this bird in winter plumage. Not what I expected.)
After a very successful morning and afternoon at Valmont Reservior and then the Walden Ponnds area we headed home, but decided to bird our way home. So, we moved on to Cattail Pond at about 1:30 PM where we refound ( for about the 7 time) the Trumpeter Swan, but that was not all that was there this time. Amoungest the many (47) Ring-billed Gulls was a slightly larger gull, with a more blue/gray color on the legges and a black bill tip with the slightest yellow on the tip barely seen through our scope at 60 power. After consulting our field guides (Nat. Geo., Sibley, Peterson, and Stokes(we wanted to sure that we were seeing this bird)) we decided on a California Gull, a rare bird for this time of year this far north in Colorado. This also was a new year bird for me.

On another note, we almost went out to go see the Common Crane last weekend in Nebraska but it didn't work with our schedule and we weren't sure if the bird would stay. I am glad too; some people say it was a one day wonder and others we know said it was there for only a few days so we did not chase this "Common" Crane.
Skyler Bol

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Visitors from the Northeast

Today my dad and I were looking for rare gulls at a local lake that can be good for this. We definetly found what we were looking for. As we searched for any rare gulls out sitting in the water, a gull with a brown/white wash over its whole body... white wing tips... pink feet and bill with a black tip... Smaller than a Herring Gull but a tiny bit larger than a Ring-billed... It was an Iceland Gull! Score! A great bird I have only seen once this December, in this great year for Iceland Gulls in Ft. Collins and Loveland. After examining the bird and other ducks on the lake (the best were 1 N. Pintail and about 12 C. Goldeneyes) we moved on to the East end of the lake where we saw a flock of about 60-70 Ring-billed Gulls and right smack dab in the middle of the flock was... with out the scope it looked like... a Crow? We pulled the scope out of the back of our black Toyota. As the scope moved onto the dark bird and my cold dry hands tightened the scope I realized what it was... "wow", I gasped as the dark shape formed into the huge midnight black back of a Greater Black-backed Gull, a life bird for me. "Wow" was all I could say as the largest gull in the world preened itself on the cold ice, acting like nothing was wrong just sitting on another cold frozen lake. This will definatly be one of the most memorable birds for my new year to come. On the first day of Febuary my list is at 90 birds. To me I'm amazed that I could get that in one month. My hitlist birds are now Rough-legged, Northern Gos, and Ferruginous Hawks and a Laplands Longspur, maybe a trip to the prairie in the future.
Good luck birding and finding truly memorable birds like me today.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A great day in Colorado

Today we birded from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm, mainly in Central Colorado. We started our day off with a local spot here in Ft. Collins where we spotted the first bird which turned out to be a Cooper's Hawk. Already a new bird at the first stop of the day got our hopes up for the next stop to come: Barr Lake....in search of the Snowy Owl for the 3rd time. On the drive down we saw a flock of geese and a surprising 3 or 4 Snow Geese. We could not get exactly how many there were while birding at 75 miles per hour but we were pretty sure they were Snows.

Pretty much the whole summary of the Snowy Owl chase was "no results" but we did see two Prairie Falcons and also two Long-eared Owls at the entrance to Barr Lake State Park. Neither were new but amazing that we saw not just one but actually two of each! As we drifted to our next location, Red Rocks Trading Post we got slightly detoured by a lead about a Long-tailed Duck at Denver City Park Lake. We did not find the duck, but we did find as equally rare Ross's looking Blue Phase Goose, which was definitely new. Moving on we headed to Red Rocks State Park to see if we could find the rumored Golden-crowned Sparrow who has been lurking in the scrub behind the feeders at the Trading Post. We arrived and off the bat got one new bird, a bright adult Spotted Towhee.

Spotted Towhee
 Along with this little beauty we found all subspecies of juncos:
Cassiar's, White-winged, Gray-headed (the one below), Oregon, Slate-colored and Pink-sided.

Gray Headed subspecies of Dark Eyed Junco

 As we started to walk away a birder said is that a Juv. White-crowned? We quickly ran back to prove that this bird (below) truly was a Golden-crowned Sparrow.

Golden Crowned Sparrow
These birds brought our end of the day total to 55 birds. It was a great day of birding.
Good Luck birding to all and having fun doing it.
Skyler Bol

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A day for raptors

Today I took my mom down to Cattail Pond where we saw the Trumpeter Swan and Canvasback (her favorite duck) the day before. As expected both birds were there except this time there were more Canvasback. Since we were already in Loveland we decided to go birding around Loveland. We moved on to Lake Loveland where we saw a few coots, Common Mergansers, and 2 Herring Gulls. Despite it being midday we headed to a new location shown to me by Nick Komar, it was called Boyd Lake. The only thing on the lake, half frozen, were Lesser Canadian Geese, Cackling Geese, 2 Bald Eagles, and surprisingly large white caps. As we were diving up the highway past a farm a flock of about 300 Starlings buzzed away from a pasture of cows. As I scanned the area around for a raptor a small bird dove and landed on a post. As the car sped up 3 times as fast as we were going the bird slowly appeared before our eyes until this laid out my window:

 An Adult Male Prairie Falcon trying to sit out the windy prairie weather and also get a Starling lunch.
 also on our drive up we spotted aNorthern Harrier which puts me at exactly 82 birds so far.  Down below is the Trumpeter Swan that we got pictures of at Cattail Pond. Both birds were very memorable birds so far in my Junior Big Year.

Today my dad got home from a photo tour he led in Yellowstone National Park, we got our traveling schedule under control and I have a rough estimate of what trips we will be doing and when. If anybody knows where to get any super hard birds in these places please let me know via comment or E-mail.
Mid March - California
Mid to early June - Arizona, Texas
July - Alaska
Late December - Kansas/Missouri  (Kansas City, or on the border)
 Good Luck birding and having fun outside!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Birding today and this week

Today I met up with local birders Cole Wild (who is doing a Larimer County big year) and also Nick Komar. Both of these birders are some of the best birders I know so we all tried to find some harder birds. We started at Rist Canyon where we tried for Northern Pygmy-Owl but with no luck. Instead we got a Red Crossbill at the top of the canyon which was a great bird. Other mentionable birds were Hairy Woodpecker and Harlan's Hawk. We then dropped off Cole and me and Nick decided to go to Cattail Pond were a Trumpeter Swan had been seen lately with other new ducks for my year list. As we got there a long necked white bird rose from dabbling underwater, score, we got the swan. The other ducks we needed to also made quite an apearance with 67 Redeads, 2 Hooded Mergansers, and 20 Canvasback. We also saw an unexpected Bald Eagle which was also new. After this trip we headed to the CSU Environmental Learning Center were we got a look at 2 beautiful Wood Ducks hiding in a Russian Olive Tree by a warm water stream. We then moved on to a local hot spot called Sharp Point Drive Pond. Here is a good place to look for rare geese (like snow and ross's), but due to the 7 Bald Eagles surrounding the lake most of the geese we saw were flying. We did take a little trail to a cow pasture were Nick pointed out a large flock of Brewer's Blackbirds and said that some times you will find a Rusty in with them. That was pretty much my whole day of birding today and with the Western Meadowlark I got earlier this week that puts me at 79 birds so far. Good luck birding to all and hope you have fun doing it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New birds of this week

This week for me has supprisingly been a very birdy week with multiple new birds. No pictures but a few rarities. This week I went birding once all around Ft. Collins on Friday, and then once again today doing a new trail called Grey Rock trail and it's about 10 miles long full of great varying habitat. The new birds of this week are:
Around Ft. Collins: Merlin, Virginia Rail, Norhtern Pintail, and Sharp-shinned Hawk.
On Grey Rock Trail: Hairy Woodpecker, American Three-toed Wooodpecker, Mountain Bluebird, American Dipper, Clark's Nutcracker, Brown-capped Rosy-Finch at the summit of Grey Rock (probably lost)

With these birds I am at 70 for the year, I am also posting all of my lists to Ebird. If you do not know about this site it is wonderful because you can report all your birds that you see when you go birding and these obserations go to Cornell to tell them about bird obsevaton. So anyway I hope everyone has great birding and has a good time enjoying birding.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The first owl of the year

Today I was walking home from school and my dad's car was on. He quickly rushed out with my binos and we rushed into the car. As we drove north my dad gave me the run down of the bird we were chasing ... The rare and elusive Long-eared Owl. This bird was found by a local Ft. Collins birder named Brad Biggerstaf. The bird was closer to Wellington than Ft. Collins though. Once we reached the grove of Russian Olive Trees we started to scan the grove, as we moved farther and farther into the grove, a Red-tailed Hawk screeched out and the wind blew, but no owl ... I scanned the trees and a large raptor with an odd shaped head ... I knew it couldn't possibley be the owl, so I passed it off as a Red-tail, then from 30 ft away on the edge of the grove and a field my dad yelled, "thats the OWL!" and I rushed through the brush so elegantly that I cut my leg and bonked my head on a limb. But I got the owl flying by, at that moment I realized the bird I saw (and maybe spooked) was the Long-eared Owl. Score! A new year bird and number 405 for my life list.

Thanks to Brad for both the West Indies Field Guide and the great new year bird and also lifer.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The trip south was worth while

Yesterday we got back from the Virgin Islands at 11:00 PM, although very tired I made a trip list for the Virgin Islands. Most of the stuff there was new for me (even though I couldn't count it on my year list). I got 23 new life birds and the rarities or better birds we got there were:

Pomerane Jaeger, Wilson's Snipe, Ruddy Duck, Bridled Quail-Dove, Clapper Rail, Sora, Solitary Sandpiper, Yellow-headed Parrot, Smooth-billed Ani, and many more. We also got to see some cool fish, 2 Green Sea Turtles, and 2 Nurse Sharks. We tried for the Tropic birds twice but with no luck. We did try to get some pictures but with out a big lens this is what we got.
Pearly Eyed Thrasher

Brown Booby
Zenaida Dove

Durring our 4 hour delay in Georgia I got 1 new bird that was not the rarest bird ever (even out here in Colorado), it was one singular Common Grackle perched on top of a parking garage near by a tree. This leaves me with 55 birds. Also we found a house Sparrow at 11:30 PM in the Denver airport calling out from a fake tree, not something you see every day.

Monday, January 2, 2012

An early arrival on January 2

As I sat at home waiting for my parents to get back from the gym the door swung open and my mom rushed inside and said," get your binoculars we got a good bird." I quickly rushed outside in my bare feet and hopped into the car were my dad sat. We rushed down the street and my mom had a 600mm ready to capture it on camera. The car screeched to a stop. In the tree in front of me was .... "a Robin?" I said. "No, the bird farther down the tree." rang from the front seat. I scanned down the tree with my binoculars and low and behold eating crab apple berries was this

An Adult Male Bullock's Oriole in the middle of winter!

This was the bird that sat in the tree it was just like that through the binoculars. The bird was very calm and sat in the tree still after we left. What a beautiful bird.

Trip out of country!

Today at 8:00 pm we will leave for the Virgin Islnds in the Carribean. These birds I can not count on my year list so the 6 days we will be there I will be looking for cool birds but I can't count them. We will be in Atlanta for 4 hours and we might go outside, these birds could be vital because we won't go to the south for the rest of the year.

Skyler Bol
Ft. Collins, CO

Sunday, January 1, 2012

the first day with 54 species!

Today was a truly amazing day filled with all sorts of birds and birding firsts for me. This morning I got up at 7:00 and stepped outside to hear the first bird of the day, an American Robin called out its in flight call. The first bird of the day is cheery and numerous, always able to get and find what it needs (most of the time it's berries). This is what I will try to shape my big year off of ..... the Year of the Robin.

Our first stop of the day was a local pond called the Drake Substation.  Here the most notable thing was  4 Ring-necked Ducks, along with some Goldeneye and a Common Merganser.

After that we headed to the local cemetery, here we got both nuthatches, Mountain and Black-capped Chickadees, Pine Siskin, and Cedar Waxwings, nothing too mentionable. At this time we had about 25 birds. So we kept on going.

The next stop was Rist Canyon home of the elusive Pygmy-Owl (which we did not get). This was the place were we got the most surprises, 3 Canyon Wrens were the biggest but we also got: Golden Eagle, Song Sparrow, Stellar's Jay, 2 Pygmy Nuthatches, and 1 Western Scrub-Jay.

Still not out of steam we headed onward to Sharp Point ponds, home of the rare geese. As soon as we pulled in we could almost not hear ourselves talking because of the Cackling and Canada Goose choir. besides that we did not find anything good except some Green-winged Teal and as I looked at the teal through my Vortex binoculars I hear my mom say "I see a weird goose." I walked over to the spotting scope and low and behold a Ross's x Cackling Goose hybrid was in the scope. We quickly showed it to some other birders who had passed over it and went to yet again the next place, Environmental Learning Center.

My mom/dads 600mm lens clicked 1,2..3...4,5 as she took pictures of a Wilson's Snipe 15 ft away, being as obvious as I have ever seen one be. He moved to the left, stuck his bill into the creek, and then repeated. Here is what we got.

Wilson's Snipe

 Besides this a beautiful Green-winged Teal preened himself, we also got him.

Green-winged Teal

Besides both of these we got a Kingfisher, Coot, Gadwall, and a Shoveler at ELC.
The next stop, and the last for the afternoon was at Timnath Reservoir, surrounding fields and marshes. Highlight birds here were Tree Sparrow, a Morning Dove Roost, 45 Horned Larks, and this little beauty.

White Crowned Sparrow
That was the end for the afternoon so after a lunch and some relaxation we headed out to Lake Loveland in search of rare gulls. Luckily when we got down there the best person I know for gulls (Nick Komar) was there. As soon as he gave us a run down of all the gulls I quickly picked out the Glaucous and Herring Gulls. Then,  mom found a Bufflehead and dad picked out a Lesser Black-backed Gull. The one that was hard though was the Thayer's but eventually we found one. As the sky got dark we decided to head back and to wrap up my first day of my big year. What a day!

Skyler Bol
Fort Collins, Co