Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Festival of the Birds 2009-Keynote Dinner

Saturday evening was spent tallying birds, recounting almost unbelievable bird sightings (see photo above), and enjoying the company of friends, old and new. Dinner was a delicious success as festival participants enjoyed great food and a wonderful keynote address given by Dr. Gene Wilhelm. His topic was Birding: Past, Present and Future and served not only to entertain but to inform and educate the audience about the roots of birding and where he expects it may go in years to come. Some of the highlights for Saturday, as mentioned in the program evaluations, included the pontoon boat rides which were added this year (Many thanks to our captain, Julie, and to the DCNR for allowing us to use the pontoon boat!); naturally, the 120 birds sighted (especially Sam Stull's find-see photo above) and the wonderful camaraderie. Perhaps, the "star" birds were the pair of nesting Least Bitterns. They will get a post of their own in coming days:)
Mr. Bittern stands guard and incubates the 3-4 eggs.
Even the most experienced birders refer to their favorite field guide from time to time. Keynote Speaker, Dr. Gene Wilhelm, discusses the future of birding with festival participants.
Joao and company add to the bird tally as of Saturday.
As the Saturday festivities wound down, everyone looked forward to another wonderful day of birding on Sunday. Stay tuned for highlights of the final day of the 2009 Festival of the Birds.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Migrating Birds Week 7

One of my favorites a Chickadee
Friday nights weather was absolutely perfect for bringing in migrating birds. The Southwest winds were a bit cool as the front came but soon turned warm as hundreds of birders descended on Presque Isle for our 2nd Annual Bird Festival.
I went prepared for a full day of activities starting with my birding class. Our first stop was the banding station and they were already in full swing catching warblers, sparrows, and more. I later found out from Tom LeBlanc they caught a Chat, wish I could have seen that one.
I knew Tom was going to be in Erie with his group from Jamestown, NY and we ran into each other near Niagara Pond where everyone was fascinated by the Least Bittern nest. It was wonderful seeing Tom again and I got to meet Patty. What a great couple. I'm looking forward to seeing them at the Nature Pilgrimage.
Our class maneuvered through several trails Saturday morning weaving through birders catching glimpses of Yellow Warblers, Magnolia Warblers, Northern Parula, Sparrows, Vireo's, and one of my favorite finds an Indigo Bunting. But the Least Bittern stole the show for the weekend as we watched both female and male taking turns on the nest, turning the egg and fixing the nest. What a thrill for all.
We did not come across one disappointed birder because our feathered friends were putting on quite a show for everyone.

Michele and I will have more about the festival including:
the Live Raptors - Up close show by Sue DeArment from Tamarak.
And a video of the Least Bittern that Michele was able to capture.

She doesn't get noticed much next to her male counterpart.
Female Red Wing Blackbird

I just love this Magnolia Warbler!

Female: Least Bittern

Male: Least Bittern

Gotta keep the egg turned!
Here is our list of birds from class:
We recorded 65 species of birds including the following:

Canada Goose--many scattered around the park
Wood Duck-- a male near the owls nest
Mallard--a few flying overhead
Wild Turkey--one heard gobbling along Pine Tree Trail
Double-crested Cormorant--one distant one flying well south of Dead Pond Trail
Least Bittern--one female on a nest at Niagara Pond
Great Egret--one over Niagara Pond and later off Sidewalk Trail
Green Heron--one along Sidewalk Trail
Turkey Vulture--four from beach 11 parking lot
Osprey--one distant bird past Niagara Pond
Bald Eagle--one immature over Niagara Pond carrying a fish
Broad-winged Hawk--one adult flying low directly over our heads at Fry's landing
Killdeer--one in Beach 11 parking lot and one over Lawrence's boat launch
Ring-billed Gull--singles overhead
Herring Gull--singles overhead
Mourning Dove--a few along Pine Tree Trail
Red-headed Woodpecker--one flying past Pine Tree Trail
Northern Flicker--one heard near Sidewalk Trail
Least Flycatcher--heard at least four, and we saw three others
Great Crested Flycatcher--mostly heard, but we did get glimpses of one at Fry's landing and Pine Tree Trail
Eastern Kingbird--one at the second parking lot and one at Lawrence's boat launch
Blue-headed Vireo--a couple at Thompson Circle
Warbling Vireo--a couple heard and one seen at Thompson Circle and a couple on Sidewalk Trail
Red-eyed Vireo--one heard and one seen at Fry's landing
Blue Jay--several overhead
American Crow--one at Thompson Circle
Tree Swallow--several overhead
Bank Swallow--one on a wire at Niagara Pond
Black-capped Chichadee--one on Pine Tree Trail
House Wren--several heard though none seen
Ruby-crowned Kinglet--singles at Pine Tree trail, Fry's landing, and Sidewalk Trail
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher--one at Fry's landing
Eastern Bluebird--two flying over beach 11 parking lot
Thrush species--one flew across the trail at Thompson Circle
American Robin--a few at various sites
Gray Catbird--many throughout
Cedar Waxwing--several overhead at Fry's landing
Nashville Warbler--a couple heard at Fry's landing
Northern Parula--one at Fry's landing
Yellow Warbler--everywhere on the park
Chestnut-sided Warbler--singles at most sites
Magnolia Warbler--singles at Fry's landing and a few along Sidewalk Trail
Black-throated Blue Warbler--at least one at Fry's landing
Yellow-rumped Warbler--several scattered throughout
Blackburnian Warbler--one at Fry's landing
Pine Warbler--one heard singing on Pine Tree Trail
Palm Warbler--several at most sites
American Redstart--one male along Sidewalk Trail
Ovenbird--a couple heard at Fry's landing
Common Yellowthroat--several heard throughout, but we did get a brief look at one on Sidewalk Trail
Eastern Towhee--several at a few sites
Chipping Sparrow--one at Niagara boat launch on the split rail fence
Song Sparrow--one in the hand at the banding station
Swamp Sparrow--several heard singing on Niagara Pond and along Sidewalk Trail and Pine Tree Trail
White-throated Sparrow--several with most seen along Sidewalk Trail
White-crowned Sparrow--almost everywhere especially along the roadways
Northern Cardinal--one along the road near Pine Tree Trail
Rose-breasted Grosbeak--one heard at Fry's landing and one seen on Sidewalk Trail
Indigo Bunting--one male on Sidewalk Trail
Red-winged Blackbird--several throughout, especially at Niagara Pond
Common Grackle--one flying past Pine Tree Trail
Brown-headed Cowbird--several at various sites
Baltimore Oriole--everywhere in the trees
Pine Siskin--at least 75 flying past the second parking lot when the leader first arrived
American Goldfinch-singles overhead at various sites

Jerry McWilliams (instructor)

Monday, May 11, 2009

May One: Linda's One-A-Day Challenge

Marsh Blue Violets (Viola cucullata)
This year's roadside violets formed patches so dense that they looked like puddles of purple paint. These are growing beside Peninsula Drive near the 0.9-mile mark at the dirt road that goes past the boardwalk and viewing platform and back to Leo's Landing.

Marsh Blue Violet (Viola cucullata)
The short, thick white hairs at the base of the two side leaves are the identifying feature of this species. A magnifying glass shows that each hair is swollen at the tip.

Black Morel (Morchella elata)
Yum! This single mushroom sprang up overnight in the violet patch pictured above. Yesterday, when it was still only April, there was no sign of it. The magic of May, I hope to demonstrate, is that day after day, something materializes from nothing--webs of green tissue from pure, invisible energy; delicious gourmet treats from wet, sandy mud; and singing chips of color raining down  from overhead streams of migrants.


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