Saturday, April 10, 2010

Birding Lancaster-Blue-winged Teal and a new sparrow!

Alan and I went back to Bolton Flats today to attempt yet again to get the Blue-winged Teal as now its getting personal because every birder who has gone to Bolton Flats in the past week or so has gotten the darn bird except for the two of us so we were on a mission!!!! We decided to go to the South side 1st to try our luck there as opposed to dragging our scopes out to the main parking lot area as quietly as we would to scan the waters that are more vast, hence, more difficult as you have more to scan. Needless to say, we wouldn't see the Blue-winged Teal here (we did have the Snow Goose though), so we did wind up going to the Main area to scan in the FREEZING COLD by the way and once again, no luck!!

After that we decided to go to another area close by to try for the Vesper Sparrow where we run into Strickland Wheelock who is there leading an Audubon Trip and he proceeds to tell us, that he had just left the South side a few minutes after we had left and guess what he had......Go on, guess.............Why the darn Blue-winged Teal, that's what and on the convenient South side to boot! Alan and I rushed back and did another scan and low and behold, no Blue-winged Teal. We sat there for a while scanning the waters hoping for a miracle and then suddenly a bird flew into view and guess what it was...
Why the Blue-winged Teal that's what (lifer)! We were both very happy at this point as we looked at the bird and I got some really good looks at it so attempted to take a photo. I would have to settle for the lousy one above because there were so many Canada Geese in the water that they essentially took up the whole pond so every time I would try and get a photo, either a goose or a Mallard would get in the way and block my view.
After that we decided to head back to try and get the Vesper Sparrow, but didn't have much hope due to how cold it was this morning. We would arrive there and wouldn't hear any bird song, which is not a good sign when you are looking for birds because it means they are hunkered down low vs. teed up and singing. Alan takes us to an area he thinks would be ideal as it is sheltered from the strong winds of today, and the closer we got, the louder a particular call note would get and it sounded reminiscent of a Vesper Sparrow and after a little pishing, this little guy popped up to see who was causing all of the racket.
None other than the Vesper Sparrow (lifer!). As soon as it popped into view my breathing stopped for a moment and heart gave a little pitter patter because the bird was rather sweet looking as it glanced our way and sang its song. I was thrilled to get a picture of him singing as you all know how fond I am of pictures where I can get a bird with its bill open as its belting out a tune!!
Snow Goose now on the other side of Bolton Flats with all of the Canada Geese and Gulls because there were Crow hunters on the South side

After that we decided to hit Bolton Flats one more time in hopes for the Northern Shoveler. While driving there, I was telling Alan how nice it would be to get a Northern Harrier in Worcester County in the spring vs fall because I am essentially obsessed with my raptors and want them all on my list before June :-p. While walking to the waters from the main parking area, we see a raptor appear out of nowhere and it is none other than a female Northern Harrier. HA!! No pictures though as it was a total surprise and I wasn't prepared, but a pleasant surprise none the less.
We would also have a Red-tailed Hawk there and an Osprey who was carrying fish in its talons. Lousy photo though but what else is new lately.

Finally it was time to head a little closer to home but decided to make a quick stop at St Philips. We wouldn't see much there, except for a now very familiar scene to me which were the Northern Flickers chasing each other around while making their super cute flicKa, flicKa call. Take a look at the photo above and you will see the birds I am referring to. Are they not adorable or what?? Here they are gazing into each others eyes as spring has sprung and this is what birds do this time of the year right???

Not so fast.......Take a good look at both of their faces and what you see??? Notice something consistent with the two of them?? How about the black malar that is on both of their faces which only means one thing and that is both of them are male!! It's not what you think really it isn't. ;-). What you are seeing here is a good old fashioned case of male rivalry going on as they are both fighting over a female who isn't in any of these pictures. All she does is fly around while these two fly after her in return in between staring each other down and giving some pretty evil looks to each other if you ask me.

Like the look above. Seriously, talk about ice cold. HA!! All in all, a really good day. It is getting harder and harder to get life birds now that I am not as new as I was last year, so it was quite the treat to get two of them in one day no less!

Take care all.


Larry said...

Always nice to get a lifer!

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Chad said...

Muy congrats on the lifer! I have never had a Vesper Sparrow. Aren't Blue-winged Teal gorgeous? When I went to Florida this spring they were everywhere and I could not stop looking... the cutest things! You are really turning into the professional birder... I'm envious!

The Early Birder said...

Hi Kim. The intrepid birder gets her quarry at last! Congrats on the lifers. It always gets tougher as your list gets bigger but just think back to over a year ago and see how far you have come. Well done. FAB.

Hilke Breder said...

Nice story! Sounds like you had a great day despite the cold. Congrats on the Vesper Sparrow - love the photo! - and the Blue-winged Teal!

Chris Petrak said...

its always a thrill to get a new sparrow because it is so easy to miss a slightly different little brown bird - congrats!


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