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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Kickin' Off the 2015 Year List

January 1st brought the beginning to another year list, and the New Year's Day tradition for birding for most of the daylight hours. Stepping out into the yard before breakfast, my first bird of the year was a common raven (1) followed shortly (and somewhat surprisingly) by a Pacific wren (2) and golden-crowned kinglet (3). The usual feeder species helped round out the list at 8 species before heading out to meet the rest of our family birding group.

Our first stop was Sportman's Lake, which turned up almost all of the expected waterfowl in a single stop! Some additional bonuses included a pair of bald eagles (19), a belted kingfisher (21), and a pied-billed grebe (24).

Next was a walk at Three Meadows Marsh - the moment documented by the one non-birder in our group, my mom :)

As you can see, it was frosty out, but we would definitely take the sunshine! The first year bird at the marsh was a surprising Lincoln's sparrow (25), one of the best species of the day. My pishing also turned up the hoped-for marsh wren (29), but we didn't have any success in getting a Virginia rail talk back, though Keith amazingly saw one!! But it's still a "miss" on my year list.

Next up, Jackson Beach turned out to be a fantastic stop for our first shorebirds and sea birds of the day including greater yellowlegs (33), common goldeneye (36), and another great find - a pair of long-tailed ducks (39). Along with a couple of the common grebes and loons, and a northern harrier (44) flyby, I was well on my way to my goal of 60 species on the day.

Cattle Point was next, where we spent almost an hour and a half. The first species when we got out of the car was another great one - peregrine falcon (45). We filled in the other expected seabirds by scanning with my dad's scope, including the hoped for but by no means expected marbled murrelet (50) and ancient murrelet (52), with decent flocks of both species!

I also had to pull my camera out for the first time of the year to photograph this pair of bald eagles, two of six we saw from Cattle Point!

Leaving Cattle Point I had 58 species on my list, and we went over to the Redoubt Road at American Camp. I was hoping for meadowlarks or a shrike, but there was hardly a bird in sight. There was yet another pair of bald eagles in the distance, and a small flock of golden-crowned sparrows (59), and that was it. 

On our way to False Bay I thought some birds we flushed off the side of the road didn't quite look like robins, and I'm glad we stopped, because they were varied thrushes (60)! That helped me reach my goal of 60, which I've managed to reach on January 1st each of the last four years.

These are likely my best-ever photos of a varied thrush, too, as they're usually skittish and/or hiding in the tree branches.

The light wasn't great at False Bay - there's no way we could have picked out a Eurasian wigeon among all the wigeon there, if there was one around. But we did still add northern pintail (61), dunlin (62), and western sandpiper (63). 

Dad scanning False Bay

The day still wasn't done, as a stop at the grocery store turned up the expected house sparrow (64), and then at home there was a downy woodpecker at the feeder just before dark (65). Not a bad total for the day!

Since the first, the weather has been gray, wet, and windy, and despite putting in a few more hours birding the only addition has been a ruby-crowned kinglet (66) in the yard. There's been several other great species reported on the island in the last few days, though, so as soon as it gets nicer you know I'll be out there looking! As of today, that puts Dave ahead of me at 73, but there's a loooong way to go yet!

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