Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Snow Geese at Dead Creek or Thelma turns 200,000

Monday - the sun came out! Amazingly, this October has been quite rainy and between work and rain (two words that can produce funny emotional responses), I took the day off and went birding. Dead Creek was my destination where I wanted to end the day with the Snow Geese flying in against the setting sun. Hopefully! Wandering the back roads between Route 7 and Lake Champlain is one of my favorite ways to spend a sunny day birding. At McQuen Slang I found Rusty Blackbirds in the Maple-leaf Viburnum along with many robins. The big surprise was the 45 plus juvenile Cedar Waxwings hawking bugs from the tree tops. Next stop was Whitney Creek to try and locate the Orange-crowned Warbler that was reported on VTbird. There were White-throated Sparrows , Savannah Sparrows and more Cedar Waxwings, but no Orange-crowned Warbler. Butterflies were out sunbathing, taking advantage of the warm sunshine. A half dozen Clouded Sulphurs were showing their wear and tear this late into the season. An Eastern Comma Butterfly (winter form) was also enjoying the sun before hibernating in the leaf liter for the winter. They are one of the first butterflies to fly in the spring, often seen late April and early May. Farrell Access road to Dead Creek was very slow; however, there was a lone female Hooded Merganser feeding at the pool in the bend in the road. When I finally arrived at Brilyea Access with winds out of the northwest, it was also quiet. Highlights there were two Pie-billed Grebes, Green Winged Teal, American Black Ducks, Mallards and a feeding Great Blue Heron. I had just enough time to take this image.
There was one of those large farm “honey bucket” spreaders bearing down on my position; it was time to move. At the goose viewing area there was Lady Bugs all over the place, and the Moon. What can I say! The Snow Geese might be down in numbers, but it is still a thrill to see them fly. Here is a link to a report in the Addision County Independent about the decline in the numbers of Snow Geese at the Dead Creek WMA facility. With the geese well back from the viewing area, I used my 400mm lens to close the distance some. A low flying Northern Harrier spooked the geese and I was able to make this image. I thought that there were about 2500 Snow Geese in the area for the afternoon. They only flew one more time towards the end of the day as the light was fading and most of the geese were in the southeast field anyhow; not a good place for sunset images. I looked back one more time just as I was leaving. Wow! I jumped out of Thelma, the jeep, (the official vehicle for all BFO adventures) and was able to record the header image. On the road as I approached the top of the hill on Route 17 and 22a, I saw the sunset reflected in the rear windows of the Addison town office building. A different way of showing it was a nice sunset.

On the way home Thelma, the Jeep, turned over to 199,000 thousand miles - which leads me to this. Guess the date that Thelma the Jeep goes over 200,000 and win a beautiful framed BFO's bird image for your effort. Person or persons closest to the date and time wins. All you have to do is email me with your Date and Time guess. Here’s a clue. I’m sure that this will happen in the next two to three weeks at the latest.

Use this address to enter : petermanshipdesigns AT gmail dot com

Good Luck!!!

Peter Manship

©2009 Peter Manship all rights reserved

Monday, October 19, 2009

Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow at Pomainville WMA, Pittsford, VT

Pomainville WMA: 7:15 am and from Route 7. I could see a few birders already out there looking. Looking for the LeConte’s Sparrow and the Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow that were found on Saturday 10-17-09 by Ted Marin, Allan Strong and Craig Provost and who managed to get the word out quickly.

(birders checking the grassland area at Pomainville WMA for the sparrows)It was a brisk walk out to the general area of the reported sightings. Everything was covered with frost. A bite nippy but beautiful; the excitement of maybe finding two life birds was enough to keep me warm. I joined Greg Askew, Michael Lester and three other birders whom I don’t know (sorry, I should have asked your names). They were looking along the fence row and having no luck. I asked Greg if he had direction to the location. He said, "no, but I can get them"—and pulled out his cell phone and pulled up VTBird. Ah “Birding in the digital age” we heard down the road (mowed path) around the northeast corner of the enpoundment area (pond). Greg was waist deep in the tall grass. I was 20 feet to his left. Next I hear Greg say, NELSON”S SHARP-TAIL! I looked but couldn't find it. I moved in closer to Greg and ask, where? As he pointed out the bird's location, I could feel ice cold water leaking into my boots. I looked down to find that we were standing in over a foot of very cold water. Retreating quickly I pick up the bird just as it moved off. We quickly relocated it and Greg phones the others to inform them that we have found the Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow. Jim Mead joined group as the bird moved around the northeast end of the floodplain wetland affording everyone several chances for great looks.

Inspired by the Nelson’s find everyone spread out to see if we could find the LeConte’s Sparrow, but it was not to be today for us. There is so much good habitat for the LeConte's to hide in, that it would have taken all day for us to check it all. I think that the bird could and probably is still there, but now moved to a safer more private/peaceful area which could be just around the backside of the pond away from all the attention. Good luck if you go looking for the LeConte’s Sparrow or Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow at Pomainville WMA Pittsford VT!

Good Birding to all!


Photos and story © 2009 Peter Manship All right Reserved