Monday, December 26, 2016

Moving (17-26Dec2016)

Hello birders, fellow nerds and friends.  First let me link you the blog where I will moving all my activity in the new year 2017:

That's right, I am moving my blogging activity, not my physical abode.  For the recent past I have been using that address to add a life list of birds, linked in taxonomic order on the side bar.  However, moving forward I will keep that format and add my regular blog entries so it will be a mix of the two.  I don't plan on doing another North Carolina state big year next year so I can focus on maybe some local lists and also on some travels abroad...  In fact, I am starting 2017 out with a bang and headed to Cuba on 29Dec2016.  Look for that entry on the new blog address around the 10Jan2017.

Today's entry here is a final entry for 2016.  It was a good year in North Carolina (from a strictly birding perspective) and although I ended the year with one less on my year list in eBird (330 vs 331 in 2015), I ended up with more on my photographed list (322 vs 321 in 2015). Yes I know, too many parentheses.  In the final stretch I knew I wasn't going to beat any state record so I eased back on the throttle and focused on work and family.  I could have easily picked up a Iceland Gull, Long-tailed Duck and Snow Buntings with a long drive but I just didn't have the desire.

Here are some photos I took locally over the past week.  I tried to get the above birds locally and even paddled out to Mason Inlet jetty a couple times but no dice.

Bonaparte's Gull - Mason Inlet

Belted Kingfisher - Basin Trail

Baltimore Oriole - Basin Trail.

Golden-crowned Kinglet - Basin Trail

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Piping Plover - Mason Inlet

Female Common Goldeneye - Ft Fisher Aquarium pond.

Palm Warbler - Ft. Fisher rocks.

Hooded Merganser - Ft Fisher Aquarium pond.

Blue-headed Vireo - also at the aquarium pond.

Black-and-white Warbler - apparently nuthatches are not the only ones that can climb upside down.

Lesser Yellowlegs - Ft. Fisher Basin Trail.

I don't want to end the year and this blog on a bad picture of a bunch of Yellowlegs.  So here are a few pics from the past three years as a kind of highlight reel.

2014 was my first attempt at a NC big year and I was still learning.  I had an awful camera so none of the photos were worth keeping with the exception of my best bird of the year and maybe my life:

Yellow-nosed Albatross

In 2015 my camera still sucked but I was getting better at using it and better at finding and getting close to birds.

Arctic Tern found on Topsail Beach during a survey I was helping with.

South Polar Skua on a Patterson Pelagic.

A Chuck-will's-widow that we found with an egg.  Sam C ended up seeing the young chick later.

This Limpkin was found in Catawba County by someone else and I had a kayaking adventure to find it.  The best finds usually involved a little extra work.

The Gray-cheeked Thrush Program at Brian P's house is always a hoot.

My last real good bird in 2015 was the Burrowing Owl at Masonboro Inlet.  Although I did not find it originally, I felt like it was my bird because I later re-found it in 2016 and regularly checked up on it leaving updates on the listserv.

2016 started out with a huge bang and 2 very good birds for NC so I figured it would be a good year.

Trumpeter Swan at Mattamuskeet

Swainson's Hawk at Alligator NWR.

Common Goldeneye in Raleigh

Around this time my new lens was allowing me to get better photos.

Glaucous Gull on a Brian P Pelagic.

Northern Fulmar


Louisiana Waterthrush

Yellow-crowned Night-heron at Burnt Mill Creek in Wilmington.

This MEGA rarity Little Egret was far away and the photo suffered but it deserves an honorable mention.

Mountain Plover at Ophelia Inlet.

Eastern Screech Owl at Carolina Beach SP.

Golden-winged Warbler at Rich Mountain.

I found 4 Black-billed Cuckoos this year.  When it rains it pours.

Snowy Plover at Rich Inlet

Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Fort Fisher.

Franklin's Gull at Wrightsville Beach.

Reddish Egret at Shackleford.

Hurricane Matthew was a bit of a dud here but I did see a bunch of pelagic terns and this Sooty was cool to see up close.  I think he made it although I can't be sure.

This Bar-tailed Godwit at Shackleford Banks was a good one.

Merlin at Fort Fisher.

Anyhow you get the idea.  I hope 2017 has some good birds in store and I hope to see you out the field.  Don't forget to visit my other blog in the New Year.  Happy Holidays.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Costa Rica Installment #5 - La Paz Waterfall Gardens (28-29Nov2016)

The grande finale of this awesome trip was to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens and the Peace Lodge.  We figured it would be nice to be pampered the final night and that way we would be within 45 minutes drive of the airport for our late morning flight.  For those of you that have never been, La Paz Waterfall Gardens is a beautiful tourist destination with waterfalls, hiking, butterfly garden, hummingbird garden and what I guess is a zoo although the exhibits seem to hold animals that are much more content than the ones I have seen in most zoos.

The Peace Lodge is a group of casitas on the premises of the Gardens.  It is very plush and a little over the top but nice none the less.  The bed is a big four poster with hanging silk drapes and the shower is a stone cave with a waterfall instead of a shower head.  There was a hot tub on the porch but we favored the big heated pool with waterfalls in the common area.  The boys loved it and so did Melissa, so that was nice.

Of course there was birds too....

Common Chlorospingus

Buff-throated Saltator

Common Chlorospingus

The following Butterflies were in the covered butterfly house so I am not attempting to ID them as they won't count on my life list.  However, they are beautiful and deserve at least some mention.

This one seemed to like Melissa's bright shirt.

On the first day there I spent a ton of time hunkered under some shelter in the hummingbird garden while it rained...

Violet Sabrewing

Black-bellied Hummingbird

Coppery-headed Emerald

White-bellied Mountain-gem

Purple-throated Mountain-gem

Black-bellied Hummingbird

Green-crowned Brilliant

Magnificent Hummingbird

Violet Sabrewing

Brown Violetear - I only saw a few of these.

Purple-throated Mountain-gem female or juvenile.

Female Sabrewing

I only saw a Green Thorntail fleetingly a couple times.

My brother Raf found this Torrent Tyrannulet while hiking with his family and was nice enough to show me the way.

Brown Violetear

In the morning first thing we spotted some birds on the trails that were difficult to get in decent light.

Tawny-throated Leaftosser

This Nightingale Thrush could have been one of two species and my photo is not good enough to know for sure.

Tawny-throated Leaftosser again.

Chestnut-capped Brush-finch

Three-striped Warbler

Gray-breasted Wood-wren

Prong-billed Barbet

Olivaceous Woodcreeper

Not sure but I think another Collared Trogon.  Could be the Orange-bellied too.

I believe this is a Ruddy Treerunner.

Gray-breasted Wood-wren

Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush

Oh and there was a frog house too...

I think this was the Jumping Tree Frog or at least that is what the guy showing us around said.

The famous Red-eyed Tree Frog

This one I think is the Tiger-legged Tree Frog.

Grrr, I forget this species but they were mating.

Back out in the gardens....

Squirrel Cuckoo

Green Thorntail

Coppery-headed Emerald

Crimson-collared Tanager

Baltimore Oriole

Black-cowled Oriole

Buff-throated Saltator

I hope to make it back to Costa Rica again soon.  What an awesome place.  Pure Vida.