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Baltimore by the Sea

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Little Saturday Morning Birding

There is nothing I love more than sleeping in on Saturday mornings, sometimes as late as 6:30, 7 AM. I know, I know, but my normal wake up time is 5:30 AM so 7:00 is sleeping in. Still, this morning I was up at the crack of the first sparrow's fart, and off to bird at Jerri Langham's backyard 'pit'. I've birded there before, and today there was a special guest I was anxious to meet and photograph - a lovely immature Harris Sparrow.

Teen-aged Harris Sparrow at Breakfast in the 'Pit'

For a western birder, this species, I've only ever seen in the eastern half of the country, is AWESOME!

Ok, Ok, these days every other thing is 'awesome', but honestly - this is one outstanding sparrow. It was probably a few hundred feet down from where Jerri, and several other happy birders, including myself, sat comfortably in swivel lawn chairs. Even my 400 mm camera had trouble getting any sharp photos, but hell, the photos I got of the bird are better than a sharp poke in the eye.

Love it's fawn coloring

There was another sparrow that popped up, much closer, at maybe 15 feet away from where I sat, a Lincoln Sparrow. I've never had any photo opts with that species so I'm thrilled to present - my first ever Lincoln Sparrow photos!

Lincoln Sparrow - not as plain as it looks

Lincoln gives its Bird-of-Paradise impression

There were loads of birds for us to sit and watch. Just overhead several White-tailed kites swooped, dove, dusted off their 'go a court'n feathers and put on a show.

White-tailed Kite presented overhead entertainment

A nice pair of Tree Swallows that will likely be setting up house in one of the nesting boxes along side the 'pit'.

Future Parents of a nestful of Tree Swallow chicks

After an hour or two, Dr. Lang grabbed his spotting scope and we took a short hike along the river for a quick look at his nesting boxes, where annually dozens of pairs of titmice, Tree Swallows, White-breasted Nuthatches, Common Mergansers, Wood Ducks and other hopeful pairs, bring up their broods. This Nuttall's Woodpecker was cruising through the riparian habitat and stopped for a quick Claire photo of dubious quality.

Nuttall's Woodpecker - it's there! Look.

One of the usual birds on the water way was this Spotted Sandpiper in winter plumage, ergo, unspotted just now. I noticed it because it bobs it's tail up and down like it's conducting the philharmonic.

Ensie little Spotted Sandpiper

After the walk about, we returned to our easy chairs over the pit, which is a low cliff which Jerri spreads with a bird feast of seeds. The buffet attracts California Quail, White and Golden Crowned Sparrows, California & Spotted Towhees, Morning Doves and the odd Cottontail rabbit. There are blueberry brambles too, in which I had a nice viewing (but a crap photograph) of a Bewick's Wren. Great way to spend a morning. Will have to get out there again sometime soon.

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