One Last Try

We made one last try to see a Lapland Longspur on our way back to NJ but had no luck.

The clock has run out. Unless a Boreal Owl shows up in New Jersey tonight (0.0000001% likely) we are really done for the year. After dropping our son off at Cornell we made one last search for Lapland Longspurs on the way back down to New Jersey. We saw some Snow Buntings along the road and about 50 Horned Larks, but the longspur continued to elude us. All year long we have never been at the right place at the right time for that bird.

The “official” final tally is 654 species. If you count non-ABA birds, it would be 659.

Our Big Year is Done

A variety of factors have made it hard for us to get back to any serious birding.

We are waiting out an expected heavy snow storm here in New Hampshire before an unexpected return to New Jersey. It is unlikely that we will be able to do more than just incidental, roadside birding before the end of the year. We’ll write much more about the adventure once we get back home and have a chance to reflect more on the year.

It surely was great fun while it lasted!

Trying to Get Some More Birding Done

We are still hoping to get a day or two more birding in before the end of the year but it may not happen.

We haven’t seen any reports of anything we still need nearby and the weather has been a bit messy, so we haven’t gone out yet. Tomorrow we leave to take Michael’s sister home to New Hampshire and return our son to college in New York. If the snow isn’t too bad we might have a shot at a “Lappie” or a Bohemian Waxwing up there. There’s  also a chance that we could find something on the way back to Texas “at the last minute.”

But, we might just be content to run out the clock if the weather turns any worse.

Just Chillin’ in the Snow

We were planning to drive farther north in New Hampshire to follow a report of Bohemian Waxwings but we decided not to brave the snow and freezing rain.

Living in South Texas has made us a bit timid about driving under those conditions even though it is not a bad storm at all. It’s all about your perspective, I guess. Our next birding adventure will be to try to find a Lapland Longspur on our way back down to New Jersey tomorrow.

Barring a really rare bird on the alerts, we really don’t have anything else to see.

Shrike One!

For images of the (now confirmed) Gyrfalcon look in the Photo Gallery.

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Another nemesis bird bites the dust! (Northern Shrike – Finally)

Seen near Lisle, NY at 11:30AM on Dec. 15, 2012

The picture is poor but the bird still counts.

Renee Has Her Redpoll … Both of them actually!

We started out today on a quest to find a Northern Shrike but we found a huge flock of redpolls instead.

We were following eBird reports of Northern Shrikes in SW New Hampshire, but having no luck, when we decided to go south into Massachusetts and check out a shrike report there. The report also mentioned both Common and Hoary Redpolls near the shrike’s location so it was worth the extra drive to get there. We searched for the shrike for about a half hour with no luck and then stumbled upon the flock of redpolls.

We looked in earnest for the lone Hoary Redpoll. We noticed that there were some likely suspects early on but the flock was so large and so active that their constant milling about made it very difficult to find a single bird among the more than 100 others. Finally, after about an hour-and-a-half of looking we were satisfied that even though we never got an extended observation we each had seen the Hoary Redpoll well enough to add it to our list. We tried extra hard to get a diagnostic photo but it proved impossible to do so.

Some of the Common Redpolls sat still long enough for a photo but never did the Hoary.

We continued looking for the shrike but decided to give up and head back. As we drove along the exit road a falcon flew overhead. It looked larger and paler than a Peregrine Falcon. It landed in a tree along the banks of the Connecticut River and Michael got some distant photos. We have sent some photos to other birders for their opinion on the id of the bird. We think it looks like an immature Gyrfalcon but it could just be a Peregrine after all. (The images below are blown up a great deal and are quite fuzzy.)

What do you think?

Down to the Final Four

We realized recently that there are only four birds that we are still “likely” to see: Northern Shrike, Bohemian Waxwing, Lapland Longspur, and Hoary Redpoll.

Likely is in quotes because some on that short list are really not very likely at all; possible, yes, but likely, no.

Today we spent six hours or so looking for any of our last four targets and trying to get Renee a look at a Common Redpoll … all to no avail. Once again, we were disappointed by the disconnect between what we have seen on eBird and what we were able to see in the field. Where 50 or 60 birds were reported a few days ago, we found none at all. Obviously, it is not always that way. We usually find what we search for when we respond to eBird reports. But it was discouraging nonetheless.

But the day was certainly not wasted. We saw many, many birds, including dozens of White-winged Crossbills; always a treat!

This winter season has been so much better than the last one in terms of those “winter birds” on our list. We still hold out hope for our final four!