Vagrant orioles

This has been a good year for orioles in Pennsylvania. A Scott’s Oriole in February near Harrisburg started out the year with a bang, see pictures here. This was the first recorded Scott’s Oriole in the state. The usual suspects for Pennsylvania are Baltimore and Orchard Orioles. Now, its December and there is a Bullock’s Oriole hanging out at the Lost Creek Shoe Shop at Oakland Mills.

Bullock’s Oriole

I managed to get up to see the Bullock’s Oriole the last week in November and after almost an hour of waiting for it to show up at the feeder it had been frequenting, someone spotted it down the lane in some bushes. We all sprinted down there and once we all had good looks I managed a couple shots of it hidden in the tangles.

Finally a Rufous!

Number 266 for my Pennsylvania list, the female Rufous Hummingbird I was able to see in Berks County this past week was a delight. When I first arrived at the house that it has been frequenting for about a month now, the hummingbird was nowhere to be seen. I was treated to a lovely overview of its habits and daily routine and I was promised that it would appear soon. And all of a sudden it did, she was sitting on one of several butterfly bushes the property owner had around the yard. I rushed to the window and was treated to a fantastic view of it sitting on the bush, then it flew to the feeder and I was able to watch it quite a while there.

female Rufous Hummingbird

I was able to sneak outside and digiscope it a few times, but the lighting was dismal and the bird was playing hide and seek behind the butterfly bush leaves. Nevertheless, you can see the orange on the hummingbird’s flanks. Below is a shot that is a tad better of the bird’s face.

As far as I know, this is the 8th or 9th Rufous Hummingbird in Pennsylvania this fall. Keep your feeders out because there could still be some more coming through and there is always the chance of something exotic like a Green-breasted Mango or a Green Violet-ear.

Listing in PA and the run to see the AWPE

To start off with, I want to say that my Pennsylvania list is not really that impressive. Yet. I have been making great strides now that I have been spending more time in PA. I believe I was at around 240 about this time last year, and I am currently sitting at 257, with about 13 that I should be able to see with just a little bit of luck and a whole lot of stuff that will require a little bit more than luck.

To make it easier on myself, I have created a spreadsheet with all the birds that I would very much like to see in Pennsylvania. My biggest holes are waterbirds, sea ducks and shorebirds. I am missing both bitterns, maybe seven species of shorebirds and 2 of the scoters. Some of these birds just require visiting the Conejohela Flats with a little more regularity in the fall. Other species I want to see will require the perfectly aligned tropical storm to sweep out of the Atlantic and blow some storm-petrels, shearwaters, or terns my way. One, Whip-poor-will, only requires that I can drag myself out of bed before my bird surveys start (5am) to listen in some good habitat.

The one enjoyable thing about state listing is that it adds more excitement to seeing birds that are strays and vagrants from other parts of the country. I may have seen 50 Lazuli Buntings in the Dakotas and Montana, but seeing one in Pennsylvania was somehow even more special.

A bird I just recently added to my list for PA is American White Pelican. One individual was spotted a few days ago along the Susquehanna River north of Harrisburg. When it was relocated the next morning, I received a phone call that I should come and see it. At this time it was sitting calmly in the way, providing distant looks. I immediately started the 40 min drive to the river. Not more than 5 minutes into my drive I got a call that the pelican was taking off, circling up in a thermal and giving every impression that it was going to keep going up and leave. Well, I decided I might as well head to the river anyway and see what was there. I continued driving and a little later I received another phone call, this time telling me that it was still in the air, hurry! I picked up the pace a little once I was on a major route and had almost reached the rendezvous point when I got another call telling me to turn around, it was now south of their. I whipped my little car around and started heading south, pulling off the side of the busy 322 as Tom frantically pointed up at the circling bird. I leaped out and got to watch it for maybe ten minutes as it lazily circled up and down the river and finally disappeared from view. The pelican had been in the air for almost an hour total, an amazingly long time. I had really lucked out.

An excellent shot is available at Tom’s photo site.

Fortunate series of chases

I had an excellent Easter. I saw 2 of the 3 birds I chased, missing only Yellow-headed Blackbird. That miss is not too big of a deal because between Scott’s Oriole (1st PA record), Lazuli Bunting (3rd PA record) and Y-h Blackbird, the blackbird is the most likely to turn up in PA again in the near future.

Both the oriole and the bunting have now been in PA for quite a while, allowing for those lucky enough to see them often to watch the progression of molt. You can see photos of the Lazuli Bunting from March 8th thru at least April 9th by clicking here.

Palm Warbler

The other highlight was seeing my first Palm Warbler of the spring at Wildwood Lake in Harrisburg, PA. This was one species that I didn’t see in my Florida trip last month. Here is a photo of a Palm Warbler that I took last fall at Cape May, NJ when they were practically swarming the beach by the hawkwatch.

The chase is on!

A stray from Asia, the Long-billed Murrelet has been sighted at Sandy Hook, NJ and I am off to meet Cameron and some other birders in Bucks County to carpool to the site. I will let you know tonight if I am successful!