Friday, December 29, 2017

Scenes This Frigid Week (Lake K., Symphony Woods, Wilde Lake)

 Above: One very cold cedar waxwing popped into view at the Lakefront while I was surveying birds at Lake Kittamaqundi on Christmas Day.

Below: American crows muster in huge flocks this time of year -- you can see them by the hundreds in rural areas. Here, December 26, I investigated a flock of at least 70 at Symphony Woods.

The bald eagle pair was seen at Wilde Lake.

Back at Lake Kittamaqundi, hooded mergansers flock near the poster display.

 Lake Kittamaqundi during yesterday's sub-freezing weather. A single ring-necked duck was part of the mixed flock.

Meanwhile, Gracey stays warm at home...

Friday, December 22, 2017

This Week's Birds at Lake Kittamaqundi

A Lone Ring-necked Duck Seems to Like the Buoy

Male Hooded Mergansers

Brown Flecks Instead of Orange Breast Indicate a Young Red-shouldered Hawk

Another View of the Hawk

Perfect Mallard in Full Breeding Colors

The Ring-necked Duck Dives

Meanwhile, at other local lakes: The visiting trumpeter swan continues at Lake Elkhorn. The photo below shows the swan on the spillway pond below Elkhorn's dam yesterday. One or two king eiders -- very rare this far inland -- were seen at Triadelphia Reservoir.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Swan P95 Visits Columbia

A trumpeter swan at Sewell's Orchard Pond in east Columbia tripped the rare bird alerts on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. My photos show the bird on Wednesday at Sewell's Orchard, but apparently it (or she) is on the move and has been reported at Lake Elkhorn today. Other birders submitted the wing tag number -- P95 -- to the appropriate authorities and learned that it is a female hatched around 2014. She was tagged near Oro Medonte, Ontario, Canada on April 24, 2017.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Looking for Snowy Owls (in Howard County?)

 In winter of 2013-2014, there was an irruption of snowy owls further south of their usual winter range. The Arctic species can wander southward in winter in search of food, and that winter an unusually high number of snowies was being seen in Maryland and further south in the United States. However, none were reported in Howard County. The screenshot above, taken today, shows an interactive species map from eBird focusing on snowy owl reports in Maryland. The two points showing in Howard County are historical entries -- the one in Clarksville is from 1960; the one directly below it, location given as Fulton-Reservoir Road, is from 1947.

This winter, individuals have been reported in Harford County and Kent County already. I may have to drive a bit, if I want to see a snowy owl soon, but I'm holding out for one in Howard County. If you happen to see one but are not equipped with a larger camera,  then a cell phone camera or compact camera ought to capture a decent documentation shot from a distance without bothering the bird. If you are inclined, you can report it on eBird . (eBird accounts are free and help support research, but donations are appreciated.)

Snowy Owl  on Cornell Lab's All About Birds

In other local owl news: Barred owl, a common local species, finally has been documented at Lake Kittamaqundi on eBird. I had one right outside my window near the lake on a recent morning (heard and seen), and someone down the street later reported one on eBird. Great horned owl is well-documented in Howard County, but I have yet to see or hear one in the area myself. I have seen them in other states twice, and they are certainly an unforgettable sight.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Snow Birds

You never know what birds that a weather system like yesterday's snow could bring. Above: Looking across Lake Kittamaqundi, I spotted a horned grebe in a flock of hooded mergansers. (A smaller, more common pied-billed grebe has been on the lake for a while now.) Meanwhile, elsewhere in Howard County, birders found an Iceland gull among the more common gulls, and a very late pine warbler showed up at someone's suet feeder. The gull and the warbler tripped the rare bird alerts.

Photos above and below, birds staying longer on the lake: This great blue heron looks immature, probably born this year, but its plumage is developing. The double-crested cormorant below is probably one of the last of migrating cormorants this season.

The last three photos following: Among the birds taking advantage of my feeders during the snow were a house finch, a white-throated sparrow and even some American crows (not regular feeder visitors!).

Friday, December 8, 2017

Rte. 29 Pedestrian Bridge -- This Week's Birds (Bald Eagles) -- Welcome, Mad City Coffee!

The new metal structures to go on the Route 29 pedestrian bridge at the south end of Lake Kittamaqundi have been delivered. Photo above was taken yesterday.

Above: I was lucky enough to catch sight of this brown creeper scurrying up tree trunks by the lake. Not a rare bird, but a difficult one to see, let alone photograph.

A bald eagle pair is in the area, and this week they were frolicking over Lake Kittamaqundi.

Above: Three male hooded mergansers yesterday promise more winter waterfowl on the lake.

Below: I found Mad City Coffee's new location near the lake after noticing it on Google maps. They have been there for about six months. I miss the Lakeside Roastery which was located closer to the lake, but it's nice to have another coffee shop option nearby -- in the business park off Sterrett Place and Wincopin Circle. The photo shows the "view" of the lake from the cafe.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Recent Birds

Pileated woodpecker, male, Lake Kittamaqundi (female was nearby)

Another female gadwall visits Lake Kittamaqundi

Double-crested cormorants on the dredging boom at Wilde Lake

Double-crested cormorants off the dredging boom at Wilde Lake

Red-shouldered hawk, Atholton Park

Yellow-bellied sapsucker, male, at Centennial Park

More cormorants on the Wilde Lake dredging boom -- They are migrating.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Fall and Migrating Waterfowl

Recently on Lake Kittamaqundi...


Male bufflehead

Cloudless sulphur in a late warm spell

Sleeping female gadwalls with male mallard

American coot (mallards in background)

Waterfowl bathing in the rain: male mallards; coots; female gadwall