Saturday, April 6, 2013

Some Birding & The Crossley Raptor ID Guide Review

I've done some birding here and there the past few days given the nice weather and early migration that's motivated me to get out there and bird and my lucky strike on Sunday with the Black Vultures continued that day while I was out in my yard doing some yard work. I'd be raking leaves when the two local Red-tailed Hawks were flying above doing their courtship circle which prompted me to get out the bins for a better view.  After a while they'd be out of sight so I'd keep my eyes to the sky hoping to see them again when I'd spot a raptor high in the sky that was so high I'd spend some time playing "what's that bird".  Hmmmmm....Turkey Vulture....Nope, wing beats are far too powerful......Red-tailed Hawk...looks too dark and just isn't giving me the vibe.......Common Raven.....Too big........In the split seconds I was going through my mental checklist the bird would alter it's flight position to reveal plank like wings and arm pits making me call out Bald Eagle....Despite how high in the sky the bird was out would come the camera in an attempt for a record shot which is what you see above.  Really cool and hawk watching can sometimes be like playing a game of origami but instead of transformation from paper it's done with wings which is why I find hawk watching so fascinating.

Not only would I be excited to get the eagle as a new yard bird, but it would also give me the chance to put to work the review copy of the new Crossley Raptor ID Guide I received the week prior.

Which had me very happy as not only is the art beautiful but the birds are given two whole pages and pretty decent sized pictures which are just what my middle aged eyes need lately!

Another two pager.  Check out the ones up top which are smaller than the ones down bottom.  Huge brownie points for that as it beats flipping through countless pages looking for the photos you want as they're all on two pages making it easy and enjoyable.

I'd be so impressed I'd continue to leaf through it.  Photo above shows pictures dedicated to black and white which is how one often sees raptors from the sky.

And they'd take it up a level and dedicate another two pages to raptors seen during an Eastern sunrise.  How cool is that!  I can't say enough about this book except to say it's on my "eye level" shelf.  Books given this honor are only my best guides as I go to them all the time and this will now be the first book I pick up when trying to ID a raptor.  Should also note I got another yard bird shortly after the Bald Eagle which was a Tree Swallow so all in all Sunday was a great day with one life bird and two yard birds.  Woot!

I'd also do some light birding before work a couple days this past work week and get nothing new but was holding out hope for better luck at my feeders with Fox Sparrow being top of the list for the bird wanted.  The want has now turned into an obsession as I look out the window every time I pass the kitchen hoping to see that rusty, robust sparrow!  I'd see a rusty sparrow alright but it turned out to be one of my local Song Sparrows a little redder than the others including the lousy photo of the one above.  I share this with you only so you can get an idea of the degree of molting this little fella has going on where it appears as if half his breast is about to fall off at any given moment and as of today it hasn't gone anywhere so he's going on day number 4 looking like a freak.

And since I have my eyes out for the Fox Sparrow's all the time, I'm seeing a lot more birds including more Common Redpolls who graced me with their presence this past Thursday!

I know I said I wasn't going to refill the thistle feeders due to the finch conjunctivitis but couldn't do it with the cold weather we were having this week.  The now colorful American Goldfinches would haunt me with their cheery call and my heart would melt as I saw them all sad landing on the empty feeders so out come the last of the thistle which is now all gone so they're restoring to what's left on the ground.  In hind sight I'm glad I'm a softie as it gave me the opportunity to see the redpolls one last time before their journey North and am happy to announce I haven't seen another sick finch since early last week.
Continuing with my weekly birding, I'd head out last night to my local spot for American Woodcock and it wouldn't take long to remember how frustrating it is to bird here by ear with the local, heavy traffic coming from 122A.  I'd have my ears in the zone when my cell phone would ring and it would be my son of course.  I'd snarl at the phone preparing for the usual "where's my green jacket" or "can you pick up some Celeste Pizza's" but he'd throw me a curve ball by first asking me what was I doing.  "I'm over at 122A looking for Woodcock" I'd tell him.  There'd be a long pause on the other end of the phone so I'd quickly tell him woodcocks were birds as it probably didn't sound right, especially to my bewildered son!.  "Oh okay", he'd reply with an immediate "where's my health card"....It would be then I'd hear a faint Bubble Zeeee coming from nearby and my mind needed to make a decision on who to focus on and the son won as I told him where it was and asked what he needed it for...."Nothing major" he'd reply and say a quick "gotta go" and hang up....Hmmm...That was weird I'd think but then I'd here the Bubble Zee again so go back in the zone and be happy to see my FOY Brown-headed Cowbird.  Woot!  I'd never get the woodcock of course but will try there again the next few days as they're a guarantee here and love getting them FOY here in Millbury.

I'd be up bright and early this morning as my son somehow managed to break his hand while bowling yesterday with his girl friend which is why he needed the health card I'd find out so I spent half the night touching base with him via our cell phones to see what was going on.  He'd finally make it home from the emergency root at 2AM and wake me up and we'd both head to the 24 hour pharmacy to get his pain meds as he couldn't drive.  We'd get back home at about 3 and I'd have to help him take off his shoes and socks which is something I haven't done for him since he was 5 so let's just say I didn't sleep much afterwards!  I'm still in spring cleaning mode so took the extra time as an opportunity to clean our my front hall and made two trips to the dump before 7:30. The two local American Crows would be nearby and close enough for photos.  What makes these crows so special is how tame they are when it comes to people.  I think the majority of their diet comes from garbage so if they want to eat they have to deal with us which is just what this one did as it got as close as 20 feet to me!

After the dump I'd take a quick drive to St Philips in Grafton in hopes for the Pileated Woodpeckers Justin had there prior and the first birds I'd hear getting out of the car were a couple of Wood Ducks and my FOY Killdeer who'd be up on a sand mound doing what I thought at first was "the deed" but there were three of them so immediately dismissed it as I'm thinking they're not into that stuff!

Hormones would be raging in heronville as well where I'd catch one trying to play footsie with the other.  Sigh, isn't love grand!  I'd get no Pileated but would hear an Eastern Phoebe nearby and see another Tree Swallow which is always nice.  I'd make my way to the wetlands hoping for some Green-winged Teal and it wouldn't take long for the stinging, cold wings to cause my fingers to freeze and eyes water so off I went home to do my once a week cooking to get that out of the way to give me some time tomorrow to do some birding and some much needed yard work so cross your fingers for me that I'll have better luck than today!

Take care all.

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