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Veagle's 2013 List (1 Viewer)


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Got out fairly early this morning. Nothing doing at the La Cienega Rd. Bridge, out past the airport. I then went to Marty Sanchez Golf Course, where things unfolded very slowly. Some swallows over the pond, and a few Vesper Sparrows, and a Sparrow that I didn't identify at once, first thought Clay-Colored. It had a clear buff breast, a white eye-ring, and and light bill. Just didn't seem right for Clay-colored, later identified it as a Brewer's, which explains why I couldn't ID it. Don't see them too often. Further out, I was very surprised to get an excellent look at a single Virginia's Warbler, which seemed a little out of its habitat. Walking back toward the car, I was surprised to see a Great-Horned Owl, flying directly away. Not 100% sure, but close. And lastly, happy to finally spot a couple of Bewick Wrens.

On the Caja Del Rio Rd, I stopped at a good looking place, and was able to quickly spot a Curve-billed Thrasher, and a couple of Horned Larks.

August 25 - Santa Fe, NM

323. Brewer's Sparrow.
324. Bewick's Wren
325. Curve-billed Thrasher


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This was the day I was looking forward to. Karen and I first visited Embudito a couple of years ago, and it left great memories - scenic beauty, and lifer Crissal Thrasher. So we planned an early start, around 6 am, for the hour's drive to Albuquerque. I was busy looking for my sunglasses, which were right where I put them the day before, when behind me, Karen tripped, and fell coming down the two stairs in front of the house. She seemed OK, but wisely decided to stay behind, as she could tell her ankle was going to bother her.

Got to the Canyon by 7:30. Literally my first bird was a Thrasher with rufous undertail coverts. Almost too easy. And it was to be the only Crissal Thrasher of the day. Lots of Curve-billed, a quick look at a MacGillvray's warbler, and sure enough, some more Virginia's Warblers. One of those things, missed it twice in Roby Canyon this year, but have seen them in Colorado, and twice in New Mexico. Got some excellent looks at the large, noisy Cactus Warbler, and there were Rufous, and Black-chinned Hummingbirds everywhere. And Broad-tailed here and there.

Sparrows were a bit more work. First came the unmistakable Black-throated. Then, after playing the call on my iPod, I clearly heard at least two answering Black-chinned, which stayed hidden, even though I made some effort to find it. But the call was clear, and I have no problem identifying it. Lastly came several Rufous-crowned Sparrows, a bird I had only seen once before,e briefly, in Arizona.

As the canyon narrowed, the birds changed dramatically. Lesser Goldfinches were everywhere, and a single confiding Wilson's Warbler sang in the spring, while two Canyon Wrens sang their hard-to-miss song nearby. Turning around, as I began the walk back to the car, I got a good look at a mysterious gray flycatcher, with wing bars, and no white eye-ring. Process of elimination made it into a Western Wood-Pewee, fairly uncommon in the canyon.

I tried unsuccessfuly to locate another Crissal Thrasher, but no such luck. And no luck with either Quail.

The Rio Grande Nature Center, was very quiet, buy the time I got there at 10:30. Very anti-climactic. All-in-all, though, a very satisfying day of birding.

August 26, Embudito Canyon, Albuquerque, NM

326. Crissal Thrasher
327. Black-throated Sparrow
328. Cactus Wren
329. Black-chinned Sparrow
330. Rufous-crowned Sparrow

August 26, Rio Grande Nature Center, Albuquerque, NM

331. Green Heron


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I left Rapid City at 3:30 am with two friends for a day of birding in the Pierre area. There had been some promising reports of migratory song-birds, and the possibility for good shorebirds and gulls was also there. It was to be a very hot day, so we designed the itinerary to focus on areas that we would be hiking early in the day. Therefore, we headed first to Farm Island. Not too much going on there, other than some local birds that we don't get too often, Northern Cardinal, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and Baltimore Oriole. This was to be the case at several places we stopped - Foggy Bottom, and Fisherman's Point, along the River. So we headed up toward Onida to look for Shorebirds. First stop was a two-track, 303rd St., which bisected a lake after about a quarter of a mile. A fair amount of Shorebird activity, although it was at some distance. The highlights here were a pair of Sanderlings that I found, and 19 American Golden-Plovers, which I had only seen one other time nearby in Sully County. In fact we headed to Onida in Sully County, where the local marshes were filled with Dowitchers, Yellowlegs, and a single White-faced Ibis. After cooling off with a cold drink at McD's, we drove down to Big Bend Dam, where a lot of migrants had been seen last week. No such luck today, where it was very hot, fairly windy, and pretty much nothing to see, except for numerous Franklin's Gulls.

In all, not an extremely productive day, but fun nonetheless.

August 31 - Sully County, SD

332. American Golden-Plover


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I was in Chicago to attend a business meeting, and spent some time with our Son and his girlfriend at their new apartment in Andersonville, a neighborhood on the North Side. I had gotten in touch with Matt from Evanston, who was earlier this summer in the Black Hills.

Matt, and his friend Fran are two of the birders most familiar with Montrose Point, which is probably the best birding site in Chicago. We arranged to meet at a little after 6 this morning. Matt and Fran were very nice, and knew everyone we ran into. I probably saw more birders this morning than I would in a year of birding in South Dakota. And the birds were great. No shorebirds to speak of, not even a Killdeer, but the warblers and songbirds made up for it. Best for me were Magnolia, Black-throated Green, Cape May, Northern Parula, and Chestnut-Sided. Also got great looks at a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and Grey-Cheeked Thrush. Really a nice morning, and further proof that birders are very generous people.

September 21, Montrose Point, Chicago, IL

333. Chestnut Sided Warbler
334. Black-throated Green Warbler
335. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
336. Marsh Wren
337. Philadelphia Vireo
338. Gray-cheeked Thursh
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Karen and I spent a long weekend in Bermuda, for a college fraternity reunion. Turns out this was a good time for birds in Bermuda, where most of the birds are on their way south for the winter. I managed to bird in a number of good areas, including Spittal Pond, reputed to be the best overall birding location on the island. I was not able to locate a Bermuda Petrel, but we did meet David Wingate, the Bermudian ornithologist commonly credited with saving this endemic species. The diversity on the island is fairly good, but many of the wintering species have only a few individuals, so it was difficult to see too many in this short visit. I think I had 34 species in all.

October 11 - Bermuda

339. Common Ground-Dove
340. Northern Waterthrush
341. European Goldfinch
342. Great Kiskadee
343. White-eyed Vireo

October 12 - Bermuda

344. Whimbrel

October 14 - Bermuda

345. Canada Warbler


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I spent the weekend in the Pierre Area for the fall meeting of the South Dakota Ornithological Union. After an extremely uneventful Saturday outing, where there were really no highlights, I was glad to be going out with Scott Stolz's group on Sunday morning. We were heading up to Cow Creek/ Okobojo Point. Nice clear morning. Once we got up to Cow Creek, there were the usual variety of gulls over the water, and a couple of Western Grebes, and then we began to see a good number of Loons. One of them immediately got people's attention, as it's head was a bit darker than the others. It also had a fairly clear demarkation between the light and the dark parts of the neck, as contrasted to the fuzzier boundary on all the other birds.

The previous weekend, Scott had seen a Pacific Loon in this vicinity, and there was a lot of excitement that this could very well be the same bird. We hightailed it around to the other side of the inlet, to Okobojo Point Rec. Area, with the idea that we could get a lot closer, and still position ourselves so that we would have the sun to our backs.

It proved more difficult than it looked to get a good look at the bird, and it did move around a bit, but by the end of the morning the consensus was that this was in fact the Pacific Loon, which was a State bird for me an quite a few of the others.

We then spent about an hour hiking around the area, looking for songbirds. The most predominant species was the Robin, but we found a number of Solitares, and some Juncos, and Goldfinch, and a Blue Jay thrown in. But by far the most interesting bird seen were a pair of Rusty Blackbirds, that gave us a good, if brief look, before taking off.

November 10 - Sully County

346. Pacific Loon
347. Rusty Blackbird


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After eating way more than I should have for Thanksgiving, I got up before dawn and drove down the shore to do some post-Holiday birding. An absolutely beautiful morning, with almost no wind, I first went to Monmouth Beach, where a King Eider had been seen in the last week or so. No luck on that, but a good selection of sea ducks nonetheless. A good number of Common and Red-throated Loons, some Red-breasted Mergansers, and a very large group of Long-tailed Ducks, about 200 in number. They were a bit difficult to identify without a scope, but shape and number were the clues that helped seal the ID.

I next drove 8 miles north to Sandy Hook, where I quickly saw some first of year Brant. I then drove as far north as I could and hiked out to the beach where there were three types of Gulls, Sanderlings, a raft of Mergansers and a dozen or so of Long-tailed Ducks. Also saw a Great Cormorant. With a scope, I suspect, I could have found some Gannets, but no luck without it.

Just before leaving, I went for a short hike on the bay side, and found some American Black Ducks, as well as a furtive Great Blue Heron. Nice morning.

November 29 - Monmouth County, NJ

348. Red-throated Loon
349. Great Cormorant
350. Brant


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Still in NJ, my wife and I traveled out to Barnegat Light, on the New Jersey Shore. It was an incredibly beautiful day down the shore, with light winds, and temperatures starting in high 30 thirties, but moving into the 40s rapidly. I was really hoping to see the King Eiders that have been seen here recently, but tempered my expectations, knowing that they were seen at a distance. I would need to find other birders with scopes to get lucky, as I was traveling light.

As we parked, there were a good-sized group of Boat-tailed Grackles overhead in the telephone wires. As I got out on the jetty, the first birds I saw were a pair of Harlequin Ducks, a matched pair. Then a small group of Purple Sandpipers, and a handful of Ruddy Turnstone. There were the occasional Common Loons, out in the water. Reaching the shore, there were small rafts of birds out in the surf. Mostly Common Eiders including a small number of males in breeding plumage, but also some Long-tailed Ducks. There were also a few Sanderlings playing along the beach, and several good-sized groups of Dunlin, flying around. There were no signs of the Snowy Owl that had been seen the day before, and without a scope, I really couldn't make out enough detail to identify a King Eider.

Making my way back to the car, I stopped in a vegetated area of the dunes, and found a large group of Yellow-rumped Warblers, along with a single House Finch. Karen and I walked over to the visitor center to use the bathrooms, and ran into a group of birders from Canada, whom I had talked to earlier. One mentioned seeing the King Eider, said he had tried to get my attention, when he saw it, and showed me a picture he had taken. Karen encouraged me to make the mile trip out to the beach again, since this would be a lifer for me, and I hustled out to the beach.

Along the way, I inquired about the King Eider, but no one else had seen it. Once I positioned myself on the jetty, I tried to get as good a look as I could of the birds in question. I did see a single White-winged Scotor in flight, but still could not be clear about the King. I did run into another guy with a scope, and he showed me some Black Scoters that were in the same area. I am pretty sure I might have seen the King Eider, but for a lifer, I want a more positive id, and I just couldn't get it with my equipment.

Some day, I will get my lifer King, and I'll remember this day. Until then, I'll wonder....

December 2, Barnegat Light, NJ

351. Common Eider
352. White-winged Scoter
353. Black Scoter
354. Purple Sandpiper


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The weather has been pretty ridiculous recently, and that along with the end of the year when it is hard to find anything out of the ordinary, has resulted in my not doing an awful lot of birding. I did put together a short list of birds that might be targets for this last week of the year, including Long-eared Owl, Gyrfalcon, Pinyon Jay, Pacific and Winter Wren, and American Dipper.

But I forgot all about Bohemian Waxwings, probably because you just have to get lucky to find these wandering birds. I was driving to the Rapid City Outdoor Campus, and spotted a good- sized flock of birds first flying, then in a small road-side tree along Gray's Drive. I quickly recognized them as Waxwings, and as I got a decent look at them, I realized they were missing the usual yellow belly. Then I spotted two with he yellow belly, and confirmed that the rest of the flock, about 45 in number were indeed Bohemians.

December 22 - Rapid City, SD

355. Bohemian Waxwing


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On this last day of the year, there have been repeated reports of a very wary Wren upstream from Canyon Lake. After working a half day, I quickly went out to the sight and was rewarded with a good look at a Wren. Spent a lot of time and effort to try to determine whether it was a Winter or a Pacific. Based on overall dark coloration, and fairly subtle contrast on the light stripe above the eye, I have reached the conclusion that this was in fact the Pacific Wren. I found one here a couple of years ago.

December 31 - Canyon Lake, SD

356. Pacific Wren


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A belated Happy New Year's to any of you who have come across this. This has been an interesting birding year for me. I had fewer total species (355) than I had in the previous three years. And certainly life birds were harder to come by; I had 22 life birds this year.

Winter Finches in South Dakota - last winter was a particularly good winter for finch (and related species) irruption. Until last winter, I had had only a single visit ever by Common Redpoll. They were regular visitors last winter, in good numbers. I also had regular visits from Red Crossbills, as well as my life White-winged Crossbill, all in our backyard. The highlight in my yard, though was a brief visit by a Lesser Goldfinch, the first SD winter sighting of this species!

Winter Birding in Northern Minnesota - I went on a WINGS trip to Northern Minnesota with Chris Woods leading. It was an amazing time, with a great bunch of birders. We saw a very uncommon Black-Legged Kittiwake, several Snowy Owls, a couple of Barred Owls, and my Life Northen Saw-Whet, Great Gray, and Northern Hawk-Owl, but the bird of the trip, and really my bird of the year was Boreal Owl. We had the incredible fortune to see 8 of them on a single day, and witnessed several hunting during the day.

Lifer Northern Lapwing in NJ - on a visit to see my Parents, I decided to go after a group of three Northern Lapwings that spent the better part of the winter in NJ. It took me two trips, but ultimately got great looks at this bird, which is an uncommon visitor to the States.

Early Spring in Louisiana - I spent a couple of days on the Gulf Coast after a business trip. The first day we (I ran into another birder from Philadelphia) focused on the Coast, with a very nice cross section of warblers, and water birds, highlighted by multiple Clapper Rails heard in a memorable setting. The second day, we visited the north side of Lake Pontchartrain, where I picked up several specialties only found in this mature pine forest - Red Cockaded Woodpecker, Brown Nuthatch, Henslow's and Bachman's Sparrows. Great preview of Spring.

Warbler Spring in South Dakota - for whatever reason, we had a particularly good spring in South Dakota for Warblers. I had three new County Warblers (Palm, Blackpoll, and Magnolia), and four new State warblers, including Cape May, and Golden-winged. And although it certainly isn't a warbler, I can't overlook a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, seen at the spring meeting of the South Dakota Ornithological Union.

A Couple of Nemesis Birds in Colorado- on a long weekend in Colorado with my wife, I managed to find two birds that had long eluded me. First, we visited Pawnee National Grasslands, and were finally (after 4 previous visits over the years) rewarded with great looks at McCown's Longspur. The next day, I hiked into the beautiful Skunk Canyon, just outside of Boulder, and found Green-Tailed Towhee. A very satisfying trip.

Anna's Hummingbird Visit - Hummingbirds have gotten interesting in the fall the last few years. We had a month-long visit by an immature Anna's Hummingbird, the third state record. Before this year, there had only been a single visit by an Anna's, in 2008. This year, there were three separate birds seen in different locations.

Birding in Bermuda - my wife and I went on a brief visit to Bermuda in October. While there, I was able to do a fair amount of birding for what was a non-birding trip (fraternity reunion). Nothing really out of the ordinary, but some good birds, including Great Kiskadee (the equivalent to House Sparrows in the US), an endemic sub-species of White-eyed Vireo, European Goldfinch, and some nice warblers. I did not get to see Bermuda Petrel, as we were a bit early, but had a chance meeting with David Wingate, who, since the age of 15, has devoted his lite to saving this rare species. It was almost as memorable as seeming the Petrel.

So I really learned a lot by putting this summary together. I did not do as much business-related travel this past year, which is probably responsible for the relatively low total number of spacies. And I must admit to myself, and you, that I had been feeling sorry for myself about this. But after spending the last hour thinking about the year, it was truly memorable in many ways. The joys of birding come from multiple directions, and I need to be more conscious of how many exciting chapters are being added to my birding life. Only now have I realized that it really was a great year.

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