2007 by the numbers

Since everyone from my brother to Google is posting a list of 2007 by the numbers, I might as well do it too…

3– number of first state records I missed in PA this year (Slaty-backed Gull, Long-billed Murrelet and Yellow-billed Loon)
77– number of posts this year
253– number of species I saw in PA in 2007
269– life PA list as of the end of the year (got my year-end goal a day late- Northern Shrike)
378– number of species I saw in the ABA area for 2007
642– life list
1137ABA area total ticks
2011– total ticks in PA
3860– number of pageloads on my blog last year


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.

First miss of the year and FOY sightings

Well, I went to go find the Western Kingbird again. I figured it was so easy the first time, why not try to get it for this year’s list. It is an attractive bird anyways, so it would be nice to see again. Well, no such luck for me today. I arrived and a Herb from Lancaster County was already looking for. He had not seen it yet. I stood around for maybe 15 minutes before I took off to see what else I could find. I drove past the dump and was immediately impressed with the number of gulls taking advantage of the free food and the thermals created by the abnormally warm, 60°+ weather. Scanning the flock, I mostly saw Ring-billed and Herring Gulls, mostly adults but there was one adult Great Black-backed Gull, a FOY (first of year). Having met with a piece of luck on that birding front I decided to swing back around to the kingbird spot to see if my absence had inspired it to show itself. No luck there so I proceeded on to my fiancee’s house. The only good bird of the 40 minute car ride there was my FOY Red-shouldered Hawk, a long-tailed juvenile bird. No pictures today but hopefully this coming week I will edit some more from my trip to New Jersey and post them.

Strike three for Thayer’s

Well, I have been to Memorial Lake 3 times now to see the Thayer’s Gull and last night was the closest I have come to see it. It showed up as it was getting dark and Tom Johnson gave me a call that he was seeing it from across the lake. My mistake was trying to see it from where I was rather than whipping over to his location. By the time I finally did go over to the other vantage point it was much too dark to get a satisfactory look. I am fairly positive that I actually saw the bird but I don’t like to count things when I am not 100% positive that I know what I am looking at.
There were good numbers of other gulls as well. I counted at least 50 Great Black-backed Gulls, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls along with 100’s of Ring-billed and Herring Gulls. A small group of A. Coot and 2 Common Mergansers boosted the diversity a tad.

The only other exciting news was the report of an Ash-throated Flycatcher in Lititz, PA. If I can manage to find this bird tomorrow it will be a life bird!

Strike on shrike

I have a brand new miss for my list. There was a Northern Shrike reported around the same area as that mystery empid (probably Least Flycatcher) during the Solanco CBC. It was in an easy to locate area and close to my girlfriends house so I decided to give it a shot today. There was at least one other birder on location trying to find the shrike but we both came up empty handed. My ability to show up after a bird has disappeared continues to amaze and frustrate me.

Here is a picture of the N. Shrike taken by one of the guys who found it. I have seen shrikes on various occasions but I am still looking for one in Pennsylvania. Seems like it has been a good year for them with several being reported across the state so maybe I will find one yet.

and I missed the Thayer’s Gull

Missed another good bird yesterday. There was a Thayer’s Gull reported at Memorial Lake State Park along with a first cycle Iceland Gull. Both are good for the area with Thayer’s being especially hard to find this far east. It was a second cycle bird that had been seen at least several nights coming in to roost. Due to the holiday schedule with UPS, I only had time in the morning so I thought I would give it a chance. I got there at dawn in order to scan the gull flock before it took off for the day. Great Black-backed Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were there in good numbers among the Herring and Ring-billed Gulls but nothing else. I had dipped on what I thought was almost a sure thing.

Here is a shot showing the Thayer’s Gull. For more pictures and analysis go to Tom Johnson’s web gallery. The above picture was taken by Tom.

What is luck?

Well, first of all let’s look at my luck so far. There was a Rufous Hummingbird only 15 minutes from my house for over 3 weeks. As luck would have it I was busy working at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and did not have time to chase this bird. When the season was over I went home and the (almost) first thing I did was head to the house where the Rufous had been seen daily. Every 15 minutes most mornings to be exact. Well, after 2 hours I realized that I was one day too late, the hummingbird had waited to make its last appearance when I could not make it. So that is my most recent dip.

Then there is the Fork-tailed Flycatcher that was in Bucks County, Pennsylvania earlier this year. I managed, once again to go the day after the last day it was seen. I spent about 7 hours there waiting and looking before I went home. The next day there was a rumor that it had been seen again so I drove the hour once again, only this time I got to stand in the drenching rain for several hours and be interviewed about why I was crazy enough to be there. And I struck out on this one too.

Then there was the Saw-whet Owl, the Varied Thrush and Townsend’s Solitaire’s that I kept missing at Indiana Dunes State Park. The list goes on with the reported Northern Hawk Owl and Black-backed Woodpeckers in Glacier National Park, Montana. I am starting to wonder if the birds have something against me.