Saturday, December 6, 2008

Snowy Owls in Whiting Vermont

Montana and I headed up to Whiting at 6 o'clock this morning to try and find the Snowy Owls before work today. Third time looking was a charm. As soon as we turned on to the Shoreham/Whiting road we had a Snowy Owl on the ground at the edge of the road in the field on the south side. On coming traffic (trailer truck) caused it to fly off, we keep going to see if we could find the second owl. At Webster road I pulled off to watch a large flock of Snow Bunting in the field, they were heading east so we follow. I pulled of on the north side of the road into a field and was trying to photograph the Snow Bunting when Montana says,"Dad Look to your left" I did. It was the Snowy Owl flying right in front of us heading east, perfect I thought! I raised my camera and pressed the trigger, the motordrive fired up and FIVE frames later the camera died. What luck,the battery was dead, but what a sight that Snowy Owl was in the early morning sun light . The owl eventual turned and was last seen heading west along the road. I'm guessing to where Sue Wetmore located it later.
We found the first Snowy on the north side of the road just before the cemetery hill, hurting in the grass. I would have love to stay for a while but it was 7:45 and I had to go to work.

Good birding
Peter Manship

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Snowy Owl in New Hampshire pt 2

The BFO's header (above) image is a crop of and image that will give you and idea just how close I was to this beautiful bird. I was just following a Snow Bunting that was working the edge of the rocks for food when I saw something white and said to myself whats that, you can amagin how surprised I was to be about 12 feet away from a Snowy Owl. I clicked off a few images and turn to tell Len Medlock " Snowy Owl" he was behind and took off running to get his camera and tell the other members of our party. I started to back up everytime the owl looked way and started shooting photos again, someone yelled something, I look back and there was the whole group standing there. Steve Mirick said move away slowly or something like that. I lowered my body to get out of site of the owl when someone out for a walk on the rocks spooked the owl( not on porpose) it flew just a little ways and landed on a rock where everyone had great views of the owl for 30 minutes or so. As we were leaveing I saw Steve M helping a little boy with his camera to get a photo of the owl through Steves scope and i'm sure that boy and his mom will never forget that. Nice job Steve!

These are more of the other images that I took of the Snowy Owl last Sunday Nov 2nd while on the Brookline (Mass)Bird Club's trip to the NH sea coast. As it turns out there was another snowy owl found that day at Plum Inland and from the Vt e-bird report by Jane Stein about a snowy owl seen on a hawk watch two days before. Here's a link to that report; . And I found this very interesting report from Ron Pittaway and Jean Iron in Canada dated: November 1, 2008 ontbirds AT Subject: [Ontbirds] Quebec Report - Snowy Owl, Pine Grosbeak, Bohemian Waxwing. Pascal Cote of the Observatoire d'oiseaux de Tadoussac reports the first good movements of Pine Grosbeaks and Bohemian Waxwings on Wednesday when 1200 grosbeaks and 640 waxwings passed the observatory. Common Redpolls are still moving, but less than 2000 per day. Snowy Owl: Lemming numbers are low across the Eastern Arctic. Quebec is experiencing a big flight of Snowy Owls (Quebec's bird) with more and more observations since 25 October.

See The observatory publishes "The Migration Chronicle" in French and English.. Click on English at top right of page Ron Pittaway and Jean Iron Toronto and Minden ON This was a very interesting read given the Snowy Owl sittings this week. We could be in for a good winter of Boral and Arctic birds in our own backyards.

Anyhow how about bird number 300, a Rufous Hummingbird and I had a great day with this great group of birders from all over NE. Look forward to the next time I'm down on the coast of NH.

Thanks for visiting BFO's

Peter Manship

Monday, November 3, 2008

Birding the coast of New Hampshire in November pt 1 of 3

Blue sky, Sunshine and strong winds coming out of the northeast. The temps in the low to mid forties and the boy's and I headed out at 3;oc in the morning to go birding on the coast of New Hampshire with Steve and Jane Mirick. They were leading the Brookline Birding Club and anyone else that wanted to on a birding tour of the NH seacoast. We started out in Seabrook and worked our way north, the group had great looks at many bird thanks to effort of everyone. We got things rolling with a Fox Sparrow and then a White-crowned Sparrow. Moving up the road to Seabrook state park/beach (i don't know which) there was a large flock of Snow Buntings feeding in the park, probably 300 plus . Horned larks flew past, there was Red-throated Loons preening in the harbor channel and I already had three new life birds. And it was only 10 o'clock, It was going to be a great day, little did I know just how good it was going to be. Steve found a Lapland Longspur which was quite difficult to relocate as the flock of Snow Buntings keep spooking. We were looking in the sand dunes for a Ipswich/Savannah type
sparrow, looking around I found a Lapland Longspur feeding in the tall grass on the sand dunes.

We moved on to a place called Bicentennial park in Hampton, here we found some Yellow-rump, Nashville and Black Poll Warblers. And just beyond the park is where the Dickcessel was found by David Johnston of Bratteleboro Vermont. Here is a link to Len Medlock's beautiful image of it :

This last image is for Art Morris , a soft Blurr of a Ipswick/Savannah sparrow taking flight in the dunes. When it calm down around here I'm going to post a report about my weekend How-To Seminar in Portland, Maine: “The Art of Nature Photography; It Ain’t Just Birds” Weekend with great Arthur Morris, which was just amazing!
Till then make sure to VOTE and I'll start working on part 2 for next post.

Thanks for checking in to BFO's
Peter Manship

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Snowy Owl on New Hampshire coast

This post is just to get some of the Snowy Owl photos up for people to see. I will do a report on my birding trip to the coast of NH tomorrow. For now here's a couple of images .
This is life bird #300 a Rufous Hummingbird

Thanks to Steve and Jane for # 300 and to all the other people that made it a great fun day of birding on the coast of NH. Here's a link to Steve's report for the day:

Peter Manship

Friday, October 31, 2008

Four Sparrows in one day

With a light dusting of snow the bird feeders out back were busy, as I worked on the computer and looked outside I noticed a sparrow that looked different. I grabbed the camera to get a photo before it was gone, then I saw a Fox Sparrow. While the Fox sparrow was scratching around under the bush I decided to try and relocate the mystery sparrow. Looking out a different window I thought that I had found it but something didn’t look right, this was a Chipping Sparrow. (Well as it turns out several people have written me saying that this little guy is a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow-very nice I.D. work on their behalf-Pete) Close but no cigar, there was some Song Sparrows and a large flock of Dark-eyed Junco’s and some White-throated Sparrows all looking for seeds in the brush that I have let grow back. The birds love them for the cover the brush offers and so I just through seed in there every morning for them. I went back to work on the computer and after about a half an hour I looked once again, no mystery bird. An hour later I looked and there it was right out in the open, I rushed to get the camera and some images of the mystery bird. So at this point I have had Fox, Song and Chipping sparrows at the feeders plus the mystery bird. That’s not to say these were the only birds at the feeders because all the usual cast of characters was on hand also. It was time to figure out what this little guy is. There was no spot on the breast so not a Tree sparrow even though this is the time they start to show up around here. As I looked at the photos there was no eye line eliminating the Chipping sparrow, what was left? With a white eye ring the Field Sparrow was starting to look pretty good to me. I then checked in Birdwatching in Vermont and found that this little guy was getting late in the season for Field sparrows but still possible. I was satified that the Field Sparrow ID was a good one. Four sparrows in a day,
what fun, you just never know what is going to show up when it snows.

Thanks for checking in!


Story and images copyright Peter Manship

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Rusty Blackbirds at Dead Creek WMA,Addision Vermont

Anytime that you go birding at Dead Creek WMA you never know what you might run across. On Friday 10-24-08 as we drove in on Brilyea access rd Carol says;" whats that in those bushes?" Rusty Blackbirds was the answer.

There was a man named Tom who's last name I can't remember that was looking for the Rusty Blackbirds too. I pointed him in the direction of the birds and he adds that they are a life bird for him, I said me to . He said let's see what Bryan Pfeiffer and Ted Murin have to say about Rusty Blackbirds and reached in his car, produces their book Birdwatching in Vermont . Looks like their right on time, see here . I look and can see a graph that indicates that the end of September to the beginning of November is the time to see Rusty Blackbirds in Vermont. Dead Creek matched up very well with the type of habitat that Pfeiffer and Murin described as a typical place to be looking in to find Rusty Blackbirds. I keep forgetting what a great resource Birdwatching in Vermont is, Thanks Tom for the reminder! After about half an hour we decided to move on and go looking for the American Coots, not only did we find 2 of them but there was also 19 Green-winged Teals. Mostly males. The geese were scattered all over the area today but we did have some nice fly overs. Northern Harriers were out in numbers hunting the fields everywhere.

Watching them work up and down a field in search of food, plunging into the grass claws extended and coming up empty more often then not was one of those birding experience that you can have at Dead Creek. This Sparrow was keeping a close eye on us as we looked for Snow geese. With clouds moving in we headed for home having had a great day birdwatching at Dead Creek WMA Addision Vt and 2 new birds for the Birding Big year list.
A. Coot #255

Rusty Blackbird #256

Thanks for stopping in!


story and photos copyright 2008 Peter Manship

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Snow Geese at Dead Creek the Dark Morph(Blue Goose) pt 1

After a great start to the day at home birding and the weather forecast calling for rain on Tuesday I decided to make a run to Dead Creek in Addision Vt see the Snow geese. There was plenty of hawk activity to watch along the way, 7 Red-tailed hawks 3 Northern Harriers and 2 Rough-legged hawks all hunting in fields along Rt 22a and Rt 17. At the Farrell access to the Dead Creek a fellow birder told me about all the Pipits around the first bend in the road. Pipits were all over and became bird # 255 in state and # 293 over all on my Birding Big Year list. However it was the Snow geese that would provide the most fun this day because there were many Dark morph Snow geese, more than I have ever seen at Dead Creek. Here are some of the photos from yesterday of the (Blue Goose) Dark morph .
What was interesting to me was even though the Dark morph geese were mixed in with the white Snow geese they stayed together for the most part. Meaning that if you located a Dark morph adult there was usually a couple of Dark juvenile not far behind. Sometimes you would see both parents, other times you could only find one, but juveniles always stayed close to the parents even flying you pick them out in a crowd. If you go keep an eye out for the Dark morph (Blue Goose) Snow geese and bring your Sibley's guide for some ID-ing fun. There was and estimate of 5000 plus Snow geese there on Monday 20th of October and more Dark morph geese then I have seen at Dead Creek Addision Vermont in the past few years.

Thanks for visiting BFO's
Peter Manship

story and images copyright Peter manship

I will post part two soon, Snow Geese photos of what you might find on a typical day at Dead Creek WMA viewing the Snow geese.

Snow Geese at Dead Creek WMA Addision Vt pt2

Snow Geese seen here flying against a backdrop of beautiful late October sky over Addision Vermont.Lucky for us the Snow Geese like to use the Champlain Valley and Dead Creek WMA in particular on their way south every year. Just as the leaves start to change colors in September the geese slowly start to build up in numbers till there are thousands, they leave mid to late November and we get to watch them during this time period. The Snow geese stop here to fatten up before continuing south on their migration, there have been reports of Snow geese feeding in great numbers up and down both side of lake Champlain and returning to Dead Creek. It is these flights in and out of Dead Creek all day long that make Snow Goose viewing at Dead Creek WMA in Addision Vermont such and attraction. Seeing long skeins of Snow geese high overhead in V formation flying in and out of Dead Creek is a wonder to behold, people come from all over to witness this annual event. These photos I hope give you an idea of what you might see if you go to Dead Creek to look at the Snow geese. Watching the geese come in for a landing is full of surprises as the geese descend they preform this funny wiggle which helps them in their approach to landing. All of a sudden with wings back they're ready to land and come in a flurry quick wing flaps and their on the ground. And all you can say is how did they do that with their wings.

The Blast Off as Arther Morris call it happens when all the Snow geese take off at once, it can also be caused by something spooking the group which is what happened in this image. If your lucky and this happens, you will never forget the site or sounds of it. This is one of my favorite image of the Snow geese at Dead Creek.

Hope your day and the same as mine did.

Thanks for visiting BFO's


Story and images copyright Peter Manship 2008

Leucistic,Melanistic or Partical Albino Junco

I first saw this bird on Saturday 19th of October and couldn't find it again after looking for a couple of hours. So this morning while talking on the phone, I look out the kitchen window and there it is, on the ground under the feeder. Call you back was all I said as I hung up and grabed the camera. 9 quick photos later and the bird was gone but this time I got some images.
Can anyone explain what is going on with this bird, I would love to know and I'm sure others would also. (UPDATE 10-25-08 Peter ) It's official , I heard from several people and the Dark eyed Junco is a partial albino. Who is here still (10-25-08) with about 18 other Dark eyed Junco's winter is on the way!
Good Birding!
Peter Manship

Monday, September 15, 2008

Looking for Shorebirds along the New Hampshire seacoast

Well the alarm went off at 3am and off we went, in 3 hours Montana and I would be birding the coast of New Hampshire with Terry Bronson of the N.H. Audubon Seacoast chapter. We arrived early and got in a little early morning birding before the 8am start. I was able to find a Greater Yellow legged Sandpiper and a Buff-breasted Sandpiper behind the Yankee Fisherman’s coop in SeaBrook harbor. The Buff-breasted Sandpiper is bird number 244 on my Birding Big Year list, more on that later.
We joined nine very hearty birders at 8am in the RAIN and started out birding by checking the mudflats in Seabrook harbor. Sanderlings, Semi-palmated Plovers, American Black- bellied Plovers and White-rumped Sandpipers were just a few of the birds we found there.

Baird's sandpiper
That was the beginning to a very wet day with many new shorebirds and ended with a few new friends. I had a great time birding the sea coast, but learning the names and places to go birding on the NH coastline will opened up new reasons to head over to theN.H. seacoast to go birding. Plus getting to meet Terry Bronson, Len Medlock and Steve Mirick and finally put a face with the names that I have been reading about on the New Hampshire e-bird list was a nice opportunity for me. And the birding was great too!
Partial list and photos:
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER 20 male still showing some breading plumage
this next image is a juvenile Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover many
Greater Yellowlegs--many
Spotted Sandpiper--1
Ruddy Turnstone 6 photo bellow molting male Ruddy Turnstone
Sanderling many
Dunlin 2
Semipalmated Sandpiper many
See another photo of Baird's-sandpiper by LenMedlock at:

Short-billed Dowitcher several
Bonaparte's Gull--7
Laughing Gull 2 1 adult & 1 juvenile
Ring-billed Gull many
Herring Gull many
Great Black-backed Gull many

note Lesser Black-backed gull has yellow legs while the Great black-backed has pink legs
Common Tern 1
Belted Kingfisher
American Crow 9
Barn Swallow 2
European Starling hundreds on phone wires
Cedar Waxwing 1
Bobolink 1 nice female Bobolink views were enjoyed by the whole group

NELSON'S SHARP-TAILED SPARROW 1 seen by everyone but me
here's some links to Steve Mirick's photos of the Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow :

Savannah Sparrow 3 doesn't this Savannah Sparrow look mad, must have been all the rain?
Song Sparrow 5
Common Eider many
Double-crested Cormorants many
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 5
Snowy Egret 3

The 8 birds in caps helped put my Birding Big Year total at 251 to date. I must say that I never thought I would make it to 200, what a surprise this year is turning out to be. Anyhow, If anyone reading this is thinking about joining these folks at the New Hampshire Audubon Seacoast chapter (click link to find out more about them and their Birding Trips) for one of their Birding trips by all means do. You'll have a great time, maybe find some new birds and make a new friend or two. I know I did!

Have a safe journey

Peter Manship
Story and photos copyright Peter Manship except where noted,
those are copyright of the noted photographer